Genius That Was Chin

John Merson, Author
John Merson, Author Overlook Press $29.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-87951-397-9
Reviewed on: 03/01/1990
Release date: 03/01/1990
If medieval China, that vast commercial empire glimpsed by Marco Polo, had gunpowder, paper, a huge army, the compass and other technological wonders, then why didn't the Industrial Revolution occur there instead of Western Europe? Why did the Chinese remain technically backwards for centuries and fall prey to the West's political dominance? These questions are addressed in this enriching, splendidly illustrated study, a tie-in with a PBS-TV series. Australian producer Merson's intriguing chronicle is a subtle account of East-West exchanges--cultural and technical--through the centuries, as well as an inquiry into why the full potential of a scientific discovery often is not realized in its country of origin. As a case in point, he weighs Japan's pre-eminence in high technology based on innovations adapted from the West. He also gauges the enormous environmental and technological problems facing Deng Xiaoping's China. (Apr.)
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