River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler. Peter Hessler spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in China teaching English literature to college students in the Yangtze River town of Fuling, about 300 miles above the Three Gorges Dam while it was under construction. In his spare time, he learned Chinese and roamed the country, taking notes for this book and the two that followed. I recommend the book and plan to read the sequels.
No one knows the exact length of the Great Wall, but it is estimated at about 1500 miles. In places, the wall is only a three-foot high mound of earth that can be straddled by an adult. The wall was constructed out of stubborn pride that could have been more cheaply and effectively accomplished with diplomacy. Today China is the home to 55 ethnic minorities that the Wall was designed to exclude. Obviously it failed to keep those minorities out of China.