Ssu-ma Ch'ien (145–ca. 86 BC) served for several decades as a high official at the court of the Han Emperor Wu around the year 100 BC. As China's greatest historian, he overcame political and personal conflicts to complete this huge narrative account of ancient China, from its beginnings through the end of the second century BC.
William H. Nienhauser, Jr., is Halls-Bascom Professor Emeritus of Classical Chinese Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include The Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature (two volumes, Indiana University Press, 1985, 1998), (as translator) Chinese Literature, Ancient and Classical by André Lévy (Indiana University Press, 2000), and (as editor and translator) the previous volumes of The Grand Scribe's Records. He is a founding editor of the journal Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR).