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In The Grand Scribe’s Records Volume X, readers can follow Ssu-ma Qian’s depiction of the later years of the reign of Emperor Wu of the Han (r. 140-87 BC). The volume begins with four chapters describing the Han’s attempts to subdue states north, east, south and west of the empire. The subsequent long biography of Ssu-ma Hsiang-ju (179-117) presents one of the era’s major literary figures who came to oppose the Emperor’s expensive military campaigns against these states. It is followed by an equally extended portrayal of Liu An (d. 122), King of Huai-nan, who was seen as an internal threat and forced to commit suicide. The final chapters recount narratives of the ideal officials (all predating the Han) and the Confucians the Emperor championed.