cover image The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

Leonard Everett Fisher. MacMillan Publishing Company, $15.95 (30pp) ISBN 978-0-02-735220-7

After conquering many small kingdoms, King Cheng became Ch'in Shih Huang Ti, the first Supreme Emperor of China. He systemized weights, measures, money and writing in China, and brought order to the country. That alone would have ensured his place in history. But because he feared the Mongol raiders who were plundering northern Chinese villages, he conceived of and commissioned the Great Wall, 2200 years ago. This is the brilliantly executed story of the construction of the wall, a feat that took 10 years and more than a million people. Fisher's text is gripping in its detail: criminals and soldiers worked side by side; complainers were buried alive, sometimes in the wall itself. To call the paintings black and white would be an injustice; somber shades of gray create the moody atmosphere of a time and place quite different from our own. Captions run down the sides of each page in Chinese characters, with English translations at the back of the book. An inviting first look at one of the world's seven wonders. (610)