Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian
The Records of the Grand Historian (Taishi gong shu 太史公書, now usually known as the Shiji 史記 – "Historical Notes"), is a monumental history of ancient China and the world as it was known to the Chinese of the 2nd century BC, covering a 2500-year period from the age of the legendary Yellow Emperor to the reign of Emperor Wu of Han in the 2nd century BC. The work is traditionally said to have been begun by Sima Tan, the Grand Astrologer to the imperial court under Emperor Wu, but completed by his son Sima Qian, who is usually mentioned as the sole author. The Records is one of the oldest and most influential historical works in human history. Completed around 100 BC, the Records set the model for all of the 24 subsequent dynastic histories of China. Unlike Western historical works, the Records do not treat history as "a continuous, sweeping narrative", but rather break it up into smaller, overlapping units dealing with famous leaders, individuals, and major topics of significance.