Lindesay takes another look at the Wall with fifth book

By Yang Yang ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-12-30 07:41:58

Lindesay takes another look at the Wall with fifth book

William Lindesay (left) discusses Great Wall-related objects in his Beijing study with his wife, Wu Qi (center) and Wang Xuenong, former curator of the Shanhaiguan Great Wall Museum.[Photo by James Lindesay/ China Daily]

Englishman William Lindesay recently launched The Great Wall in 50 Objects-his fifth book on the Wall-in China, as part of the 2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange.

The author has lived in the country for the past 27 years exploring, researching and writing about the mammoth construction.

Lindesay, 59, published his first book, Alone on the Great Wall, in 1991, recording his adventure as the first foreign runner to cover the Wall.

He then extended the focus of his books to subjects like the conservation of the Wall, and in the fourth book, he looked at the Wall from outside China.

In the fifth book, Lindesay, who had studied geography and geology at Liverpool University, picked 50 objects he selected from China, Mongolia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Vatican to tell stories about the Wall.

Among the 50 objects, 30 are from China, eight from Mongolia and the rest are from or found in other places of the world including the UK and the US. Their makers spoke at least 10 languages and were involved in 35 occupations.

"The objects I've chosen touch upon almost every episode of the Wall's story, and reach into every important era of China's past and present," he says.

Through reading the stories related to these objects, people will learn how the Wall was "inspired, named, operated, attacked, abandoned, mythologized, misunderstood, mapped, explored, politicized ... and many other things," he says.

Lindesay's idea for the book using 50 objects partly came from Neil MacGregor of the British Museum, who had podcasts and published a book A History of the World in 100 Objects.

It was also inspired by visits to the ruins of the Wall and museums.

On the Wall, he saw places from where things had gone missing. However, in museums, he could see Great Wall-related objects, but described with just two-line labels.

"I knew that more needed to be said," he says.

Lindesay visited Mongolia in 2011, trying to explore the Great Wall from outside China, which he has been focusing on in recent years.

"I realized that there were so many things-as well as the landscape and climate and nomadic traditions-that were vital to a better understanding of the Great Wall story," he says.

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