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Legendarily 2,200 years old and 4,300 miles long, China's Great Wall seems to be a confident physical statement made by an advanced civilization, anxious to draw a line between itself and the 'barbarians' at its borders. But behind the Wall's intimidating exterior, and the myths that have built up around it, lies a history far more fragmented and far less illustrious than its crowds of modern-day tourists might imagine. In this epic history exploring the conquests and cataclysms of the Chinese empire over the past 3,000 years, Julia Lovell restores a human dimension to this astonishing structure: examining the emperors who planned new phases of building; the people who constructed, lived and guarded the walls; and the millions who died - of overwork, starvation, cold and combat. The Great Wall is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand China's past, present and future.
Julia Lovell was born in 1975 and teaches Chinese history and literature at the University of Cambridge. She has recently translated the prize-winning Chinese novel, A Dictionary of Maqiao. She writes on China for The Times, Guardian, Economist and TLS.