Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China's Past and Present

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9780060826581: Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China's Past and Present

Oracle Bones tells its engaging and compelling story through the lives of a handful of ordinary people. The author himself is a Westerner living as a journalist in Beijing; the narrative tracks his story along with that of Polat, a trader and member of a forgotten ethnic minority, who moves to the West in search of fortune; William Jefferson Foster, who grew up in an illiterate village; Anne, a migrant factory worker in a city without a past; and Chen Mengjia, a mysterious scholar of an ancient writing form known as oracle bones, a man whose reputation has slipped into obscurity since his suicide in the 1960s.

All of them are migrants, emigrants, or wanderers who find themselves far from home, their lives dramatically changed by historical forces they are struggling to understand. Hessler excavates the past in search of meaning, but his intimate approach puts a remarkable human face on the history he uncovers.

We discover with him not only where the great, influential cultures of East and West intersect, but also how people create meaning out of chaotic world events.

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Review:

'A remarkable travelogue documenting aspects of a country still little understood' ( Kirkus Reviews)

'Hessler gets the stories that no one talks about and delivers them in a personal study that informs, entertains, and mesmerizes. Everyone in the Western world should read this book' ( Publisher's Weekly)

Praise for River Town:

Written with great clarity and affection, River Town should be read by anyone with an interest in finding the Chinese less inscrutable ( The Times)

Hessler's account superbly captures the spirit of a country in which he is an invader, albeit welcomed, understanding rather than merely describing it and, with consummate skill and literary style, bringing it alive in all its mesmerising complexity ( Sunday Times)

To come across a Westerner patient enough and tolerant enough to try and understand the immense, exasperating and ultimately lovable entity that is China is always a pleasure. To encounter one that is as literate and sensitive as Peter Hessler is a joy ( Simon Winchester)

Studded with insight and humility, written with unshowy elegance, River Town is about ways of seeing ( Daily Telegraph)

'A brilliant tapestry of ancient and modern China' ( Spectator)

'Valuable for its necklace of vignettes - poignant, comic, and weird' ( Jonathan Mirsky, Literary Review)

'He ranges widely and, in doing so, illustrates how Chinese history accumulates' ( Mick Herron, Geographical Magazine)

'[An] extraordinary survey of contemporary China...really quite unforgettable' ( The Observer)

Book Description:

From the acclaimed author of River Town comes a rare and authentic portrait - both intimate and epic - of twenty-first century China as it opens its doors to the world

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