An illuminating history of the 214 Chinese symbols or radicals and how they provide a unique way to penetrate a rich, mysterious world and can reflect the history and philosophy of an entire culture. Written Chinese can call upon some 40,000 characters, many of which originated about 6,000 years ago as little pictures of everyday objects used by the ancients to communicate with each other. This book, which introduces the Westerner to a rich and mysterious world, is based on a classic compilation of the Chinese language done in the 18th century, which determined that all the characters then in use were devised from 214 root pictographs or symbols. Each of these 214 key characters, called radicals is charmingly explored by the author, both for its etymology and for what it reveals about Chinese history and culture. Chinese characters are marvels of graphic design, and this book shows, stroke by stroke, how each radical is written and gives examples of how radicals are combined with other radicals and character elements to form new characters.