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.