John's Reviews > Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China

Oracle Bones by Peter Hessler
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's review
Dec 18, 2007

liked it
Read in November, 2007

I didn't know much about China before so I found the various glimpses this book provides interesting. It's focused on three things-- a) Chinese archaeologists of the 20th century and some of their discoveries, b) a Uighur trader, and c) recent students of the author who taught English for a while and how they're lives in some of China that has opened up to capitalism. It seems that everything in China that is suppose to help move it forward (whether communism or capitalism and the government programs to implement both) is forced and ineffectual in their long term goals. And the people are just trying to get by.
At one point late in the book, the author interviews a Chinese actor/director who says: "Everybody is too busy; there's not enough quiet for reflection. In the distant past, the country was peaceful and stable, but now it changes so fast. Certainly that's been the case since Reform and Opening, but to some degree the past two hundred years have been like that. We don't know where we are. We haven't found our road. In the early part of the twentieth century, the Chinese tried; some of them tried to find it in our own traditions, while others looked outside the country. This debate is still going on." That's a good summary of the book.
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