Written by Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072), an intellectual giant of the Song dynasty, Historical Records of the Five Dynasties offers a compelling interpretation of the Five Dynasties period (907-979). In overhauling the existing official history, Ouyang Xiu made several notable decisions. He recast the entire narrative in the popular "ancient" style to make for a rare fluency. He adopted rigorous moral categories to evaluate historical figures, reflecting the new regimen of his day. He also annotated portions of the text to establish a methodology for future writers. The Historical Records thereby became the official version-the last of China's dynastic histories to be written by an individual in a private capacity. In addition to its provocative commentary and lucid presentation, Historical Records is an eloquent statement on the art and craft of historical writing in the eleventh century.
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