This vivid narrative history of Chinese intellectuals and public life provides a guide to making sense of China today. Timothy Cheek presents a map and a method for understanding the intellectual in the long twentieth century, from China's defeat in the Sino-Japanese war in 1895 to the 'Prosperous China' since the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Cheek surveys the changing terrain of intellectual life over this transformative century in Chinese history to enable readers to understand a particular figure, idea or debate. The map provides coordinates to track different times, different social worlds and key concepts. The historical method focuses on context and communities during six periods to make sense of ideas, institutions and individual thinkers across the century. Together they provide a memorable account of the scenes and protagonists, and arguments and ideas, of intellectuals and public life in modern China.