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William Lindesay, who will speak at The Bookworm on Thursday, featured in the New York Times

William Lindesay

William Lindesay, author of The Great Wall in 50 Objects, will give a book talk at The Bookworm on Thursday, December 17 (tickets available at the bookstore and via He was interviewed by Ian Johnson recently for the New York Times. Here’s an excerpt:

Q. You’d written four books already on the Great Wall. Why another?

A. Thus far I’ve studied the wall by looking at its grand remains, the ruins. You see ruins. You see things are missing, but what and where? Naturally, I visited museums and saw many relics behind glass. Many of the objects just had a name and a date and a place where they were found. Sometimes they would have a tantalizing label like “an important relic for understanding life on the Han dynasty Great Wall,” but they didn’t explain why. So I thought, I’ll have to do that one day. I want to let these objects speak. I also saw objects in Mongolia, realizing that, although the Great Wall as a building is Chinese, as a story it has two sides.

Q. You make a point of telling the nomads’ side of the story, too.

Q. Your method of focusing on objects reminds me of the podcasts and book published by Neil MacGregor of the British Museum, “A History of the World in 100 Objects.”

A. I’m a great fan of his. He’s a fantastic interpreter of history. Out of the millions of objects in the British Museum, he chose 100 and enthralled people around the world. He showed objects that seem unrelated, but which have so many connections. He showed that the formula worked. But only when you try to do it yourself do you realize how much hard work it is!

Catch Lindesay on Thursday at The Bookworm!

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