- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Columbia University Press; 3rd ed. edition (22 Jan. 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0231081693
- ISBN-13: 978-0231081696
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 984,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
Records of the Grand Historian: Sima Qian Paperback – 22 Jan 2007
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About the Author
Burton Watson is one of the world's best-known translators from the Chinese and Japanese. His translations include The Lotus Sutra, The Vimalakirti Sutra, Ryokan: Zen Monk-Poet of Japan, Saigyo: Poems of a Mountain Home, and The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry: From Early Times to the Thirteenth Century, all published by Columbia.
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Top Customer Reviews
Throughout the book there are a number of characters who jump out at us - the rather tragic Lu Buwei, the Machiavellian totalitarian legalism Li Si, who laid the foundations for China, the violent and sociopathic eunuch Zhao GAO, and of course, the megalomaniacal first emperor himself. - few of these characters are sympathetic, but oh are they interesting.
It is rather ironic that this book should indeed have been written at all. The First emperor and his chancellor Li Si set out on a vigorous book burning crusade, to purge all that was contradictory to the regime and wasn't necessary. This was a big inspiration for Sima Qian's work.
So why, you might ask, did I rate this four stars rather than five? The work itself is a classic, deserving of five stars, however there parts - not many it may fortunately be said - which have been omitted from this addition, most notable the first five records, dealing with pre-Qin china.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I bought this book thinking it was the Asian equivalent of Suetonius's Twelve Caesars or Herodotus' Histories, but it reads more like an eastern version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles; pages of very dry entries along the lines of "...in the twelfth year, Lord Shu of Wu declared war on Lord Wu of Shu..." and the like (compare and contrast with "..in the twelfth year, King Engelbert of Essex declared war on King Dagobert of Sussex ..."). My initial impression was either Sima Qian wasn't as good of a writer as everyone said he was, or Burton murdered the translation. Then I read the appendix with the letter Sima Quan wrote from prison and I revised upward my opinion of both men. The problem must be Sima Quian was writing an official state history while Suetonius and Herodotus weren't. Considering what the Emperor did to Sima Qian just because he disagreed with him on a policy matter, I shudder to think what would happen if he wrote something that really offended the Emperor.
The only other problem I have with the book is it is over priced. Maybe I am spoiled by too many Penguin Classics, but I think $37 for the whole 3 book series would be more fair rather than for just on volume.