Herodotus and Sima Qian: The First Great Historians of Greece and China
First Edition   ©2010

Herodotus and Sima Qian: The First Great Historians of Greece and China

A Brief History with Documents

Thomas R. Martin (College of the Holy Cross)

  • ISBN-10: 0-312-41649-0; ISBN-13: 978-0-312-41649-2; Format: Paper Text, 162 pages

In this accessible volume, Thomas R. Martin compares the writings of Herodotus in ancient Greece with those of Sima Qian in ancient China to demonstrate the hallmarks of early history writing. While these authors lived in different centuries and were not aware of each other’s works, Martin shows the similar struggles that each grappled with in preparing their historical accounts and how their efforts helped invent modern notions of history writing and the job of the historian. The introduction’s cross-cultural analysis includes a biography of each author, illustrating the setting and times in which he worked, as well as a discussion of how each man introduced interpretation and moral judgment into his writing. The accompanying documents include excerpts from Herodotus’ The Histories and Sima Qian’s Shiji, which illustrate their approach to history writing and their understanding of their own cultures. Also featured are maps and illustrations, a chronology, questions to consider, and a selected bibliography.
"Martin clearly has a gift for breaking down difficult historical material and synthesizing it for an undergraduate audience. I found myself captivated by his description of the historical context of the authors, their purpose for writing, and the forms that they used."
–– Mark W. Chavalas, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse