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The Great Wall of China

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By Daniel Schwartz. Thames & Hudson, 2001.

216pp. £24 This elegant reissue of a book first published in 1990 surveys, in fine photographs by Daniel Schwartz, what is left of the Great Wall of China - some 56,000km of visible remains. As Schwartz points out, though, the title is misleading: there is no one wall but a system of walls, erected over 2,000 years by successive dynasties in changing political climates, its impact psychological as much as physical, aimed equally at those within and those without.

When Schwartz took these photographs in the late 1980s, China had only recently admitted independent travellers and his movements were necessarily restricted. But the book gives a vivid sense of the varied terrain that the construction of these walls was adapted to - from mountain peaks to desert - and of its current state - restored, ruinous, or virtually eroded.

Pictured is a beacon tower on Mount Gouzhu, Shanyin.

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