Sure, there’s the printing press, and the Diamond Sutra, the world’s first printed book. But I have just learned that Charlie Soong, who funded Sun Yat-sen and the revolutionaries who overthrew the Qing dynasty, opening the way for the Communist Revolution some decades later, made his early fortune in a printing and publishing business. Mao Zedong not only worked in a library in Beijing when he was young but ran a book business in his home province. The role of publishing has played a more important part in Chinese history than I realized.

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