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6 Must-read books for an in-depth look at the Great Wall

As China gradually relaxes its policies on the coronavirus, plans for travel to China can be put back on the agenda!

The Great Wall, as a must-visit destination for travel to China, is so popular that it attracts people from all over the world.

Through me and my team comparisons, we have carefully selected 6 books that can provide you with the most comprehensive perspective on the Great Wall before your visit.

1-3 is suitable for adults to read.

4-6 is suitable for children aged 7-12.

1. The Great Wall: From Beginning to End Hardcover

Michael Yamashita, an award-winning National Geographic photographer.William Lindesay, who conducts tours of the Wall and preserve it.

Two men who navigated every inch of the Wall have collaborated to this amazing book. You will read:

  • An overview that debunks myths and dishes up rare facts and figures.
  • A comprehensive history that proceeds dynasty by dynasty through its construction.
  • An account of Lindesay’s personal experiences of the Wall.

Why do we pick this one?

  • This book is in fact a logical and photographical study of the Great Chinese Wall. The restored parts nearby Bejing will probably be known by many tourists, but this book opens the way to all the other and lesser known parts of this world heritage monument. 
  • This book was written and edited by two authors who both have a long history with the Great Wall. Their perspective of the Great Wall is different from that of other tourists, and they can offer you unique insights.
  • This hardcover book can be a souvenir of the visit itself, providing a way to remember and share the experience with others or display as shelf or home decor.

2. The Great Wall: The Extraordinary Story of China’s Wonder of the World Hardcover

While many photographs have made this extraordinary landmark familiar to millions more, its story remains mysterious and steeped in myth.

  • John Man travels the entire length of the Great Wall and across two millennia to find the truth behind the legends.
  • He delves into complex history of China—from the country’s tribal past, through the war with the Mongols, right up to the modern day.

Why do we pick this one?

  • John Man’s approach to telling the story of the Great Wall is an entertaining and informative mix of legend, history, archeology and travel writing.
  • Man traces the route that the Great Wall takes across northern China, including his own travails along the journey and showing just how far (and how not so far) new China has come in embracing the 21st century.
  • He’s an expert on Mongolia and an explorer, and his tone is intelligent and down to earth. He tracks the walls’ sections through most of the country, and his travels, supplemented by his research and excellent knowledge of ancient Chinese and Mongolian history, are really fun to read.

3. The Great Wall: China Against the World, 1000 BC – 2000 AD Hardcover

British historian Lovell narrates the history of China’s Great Wall, questioning its defensive efficacy and exploring the Wall as a metaphor for Chinese attitudes towards the outside world.

  • Lovell’s account of the Great Wall provides an overview of imperial and postimperial Chinese history.
  • Full of astonishing details and extraordinary characters — from emperors to engineers, statesmen to soldiers.

Why do we pick this one?

  • The author’s vivid descriptions of the places provide an enjoyable introduction or refresher on the dynastic successions from a perspective of the frontier.
  • The author is able to effectively communicate the theme of the Wall in relation to the state of the empire and the politics of the time. This provides readers with not only a historical analysis, but also an insightful look into contemporary China.
  • The text is easy to read, the narration is excellent, and the descriptions of the characters are outstanding. The 5 maps covering the 5 periods of wall building are clear and uncluttered, unlike most maps of the frontier walls.

4. Where Is The Great Wall?

Through the story of the wall, Patricia Brennan Demuth is able to tell the story of China itself.

  • The rise and fall of dynasties.
  • The greatness of its culture.
  • Its present-day status as a Communist world power.

Why do we pick this one?

  • It’s one of my top picks for teaching geography with story. Beautiful map of ancient China was there.
  • Very well written, presenting key highlights of the long history of China with clear facts. Perfect for readers from 8-12 years old.
  • Great gift to a new elementary school teacher or for grandchildren.

5.  Lonely Planet Kids Unfolding Journeys – Following the Great Wall

Unfold the adventure of a lifetime as you travel along the Great Wall of China with Lonely Planet Kids Unfolding Journeys – Following the Great Wall.

  • This fold-out frieze is more than six-feet long and can be removed and displayed.
  • It features stunning illustrated detail on one side and incredible facts on the other.
  • You’ll discover breathtaking wonders of nature, visit modern China, and see how the traditions and landscape of the Great Wall are changing.
  • You’ll also encounter fascinating ancient Chinese monuments and amazing creatures living near the Great Wall.

Why do we pick this one?

  • Lonely Planet Kids combine astonishing facts, quirky humor and eye-catching imagery.
  • Younger students will enjoy browsing these visually rich, readable travelogues which are best viewed by unfolding and displaying the entire concertina book at once.

6.The Great Wall Through Time

This thrilling children’s book about this fascinating structure will leave you with newfound knowledge and appreciation for this amazing world wonder. It includes:

  • Exquisitely detailed panoramic artworks that show how the Great Wall of China has changed from one era to the next.
  • Cutaway views that reveal the interior of forts and buildings.
  • Every illustration is surrounded by pull-out details for children to look at, making the book fun and interactive.
    Lively, engaging narrative text and simple annotations that guide children on a journey through time.

Why do we pick this one?

  • This informative book educates young readers about how the Great Wall was built and showcases the people that help build it.
  • The time-traveling fox who appears in the artwork will have children inquisitively searching for the charming fox throughout the book.
  • This makes for the perfect gift or collector’s item for children age 7 and up to learn about the Great Wall of China and its history.
  • It is also perfect for parents looking for books on Chinese history to read with their children.

What is our selection criteria?

Price: 10USD-50USD;

Content: accurate and interactive

Author: experienced and insightful


The Great Wall of China is not only historically significant, it also attracts many adventurers.

The Great Wall is a famous scenic spot for taking pictures. Many foreign celebrities have climbed to the top of the Great Wall.

(Great Wall is not the only spot to take nice pictures with in China, check more hidden spots in China, read this article)

The following pictures hope can give you some inspiration before visiting the Great Wall.

If you like our articles, do not forget to share with friends on social! 🙂

Frequently asked questions: FAQ

How long does it take to walk the Great Wall of China start to finish?

To walk the Great Wall of China start to finish will take 18 months.

Is there toilets on the Great Wall of China?

No, there are not toilets on the Great Wall. Please use the bathroom before climbing the wall.

Can you walk the Great Wall of China by yourself?

Yes, you can walk the Great Wall by yourself. You can also camp on the wild parts.

Is the Great Wall of China Impressive?

Yes, the Great Wall of China is very impressive. You can even see it from the space and it’s one of the 8 wonders in the world.

How many flights of stairs is the Great Wall of China?

The Great Wall has almost over 30 million steps to climb the whole sections. But most travelers just experience about 3-hour hiking for 4-6 kilometers, which is about 5,000 steps.

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