The 16 chapters translated herein continue the biographies of individuals in pre-Han China presented in volume seven of The Grand Scribe's Records. The reader is introduced to the major supporters and rivals of the founders of the Han Dynasty: the generals, advisors, strategists, and ministers who helped to shape the foundations of the first sustained empire in Chinese history. Although these men were often of common stock, they influenced the development of many aspects of the Han culture, a culture which in turn served as a model for subsequent eras. Based on oral and written accounts as well as on administrative records, these biographies range stylistically from anecdotal tales to repetitious reports of achievements in battle. The failure of the first five Han emperors to trust the loyalty of their subordinates is a leitmotif in many of these chapters. But the individual motifs that echo other sections of the Grand Scribe's Records―unrecognized heroes, both loyal and disloyal retainers, broken friendships, and faithless lovers―also appear in these pages.
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