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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Good Anecdotes Within, 26. August 2012
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China (P.S.) (Taschenbuch)
Oracle Bones, Peter Hessler's second effort, or Part II, as it were, of his China trilogy, chronicles, mainly, the lives of various Chinese people, from archeologists and intellectuals to the author's friends and former students. Many of the narratives seem to be more detailed and more rewarding versions of his newspaper and magazine articles. Themes and "characters" recur and are given a sort of chronological treatment. The glue that binds the book together, the oracle bones, is also a sort of loose symbol for the volume in total. The oracle bones convey meaning; their messages and the stories surrounding the people who excavate, study, and try to make sense of them attempt to tell us something about Chinese culture. The people Hessler writes about, and the yarns pertaining to his effort to do so, also try to tell us something about Chinese culture.

Oracle Bones is a long book, about 470 pages of text. Some of the topics are interesting; others are not. But what was not interesting to me would be interesting to someone else. What's important is that the subjects were interesting to the author. That's what a good writer does: he writes for himself. If others like it, fine; if not, that's fine, too. Readers like me are going to criticize no matter what you do, so you may as well scribble about your own interests.

And Hessler is a good writer. His sentences are crisp, his paragraphs economical. His writing is better than in his first book, River Town, even if River Town is a better, or at least more coherent, story. (I suppose it's fair to clarify that whereas River Town is a story, Oracle Bones is a series of vignettes.) In any event, it's always interesting, to me at least, to plot an author's development.

And Peter deserves credit in general. In the sea of China experts, i.e. know-it-all expatriates who write thousands of words in poorly-formed blogs and internet forums, he got off his duff and wrote, seriously, about his experiences in China and what he learned from them. He dug deeply, he researched, he became a journalist, and he travelled extensively (sometimes at considerable risk) to talk to people and record what they had to say. He got published, and his China trilogy continues to sell. Hessler proved that there's always room for one more voice, provided that voice is reasoned, informed, and intelligent. He's got much more to say than Henry Kissinger, for instance. He's got much more to say than a lot of China writers.

That said, I wish the book were a bit more passionate. In places, I found Hessler's style a little too, well, journalistic. He removes himself from the stories, but in the places where he inserts himself, i.e. expresses his opinion, or shows his frustration (as he does with the "struggle session" he faced after being detained for camping on the Great Wall, or, so the authorities thought, reporting illegally on a village election) it's quite satisfying. But again, this is a matter of personal taste.

A recurring comment about Hessler's writing is that he is so very sympathetic toward Chinese people, but I don't see this as being the case, especially in this book. As there is in any China book worth its salt, there are heaps of send-ups and bucketfuls of criticism, though they are rendered in a flat, ironical fashion. I don't see Hessler as being eminently empathetic; at one point he describes himself as coldly pragmatic - a journalist getting his scoop.

Oracle Bones did what it was supposed to; it made me want to read his third book, Country Driving. I'm curious as to whether there is (and I hope there isn't) as much detachment in that book as there is in this one.

In total, a very good read. China at the microcosmic level is infinitely more rewarding than books on China's dynastic history or soporific tomes on, say, the history of Chinese diplomacy. And, among the dozens of intriguing and memorable stories, there are excellent tips for would-be journalists and aspiring writers. Oracle Bones works as a starting-point for neophytes or a refresher for old China hands. I recommend it.

Troy Parfitt is the author of Why China Will Never Rule the World
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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen wunderbar, 13. Januar 2014
Verifizierter Kauf(Was ist das?)
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Oracle Bones (Kindle Edition)
Persönliche Erfahrungen im China der 90er und 00er Jahre und ihre Verbindungen zur Vergangenheit. Niemals wertend, dafür wertschätzend und präzise beobachtend. Nachdem ich schon mehrere Male in China war, hat mir dieses Buch einrätselhaftes Land um vieles näher gebracht und verständlicher gemacht. Auch die Sprache ist einfach sagenhaft. Absolute Leseempfehlung.
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1 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A good read, 15. November 2011
Verifizierter Kauf(Was ist das?)
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Oracle Bones (Kindle Edition)
I very much enjoyed reading this book. The author gives insights into lives of modern Chinese people. His blending in of historical information I found particularly good. I feel motivated to read some of the works given in his bibliography.
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Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China (P.S.)
Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China (P.S.) von Peter Hessler (Taschenbuch - 8. Mai 2007)
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