Peter Hessler’s rich and varied new study of China takes its title from the discovery, in 1899, around the ancient city of Anyang, of so-called oracle bones, three thousand years old. These were cattle bones or turtle shells on which questions were written-questions about urgent contemporary problems or the shape of the future. The bones would be heated until they cracked, and the cracks then read by a diviner. These divination texts...
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