Imperial Warlord: A Biography of Cao Cao is Rafe de Crespigny's latest masterpiece and focusses on the northern warlord Cao Cao. De Crespigny sheds new lights on events that have never been argued about before, such as Yuan Shao possibly being the one who had a disadvantage at the Battle of Guandu.


The warlord Cao Cao, founder of the Three Kingdoms state of Wei, is most commonly known through the romantic tradition of the novel Sanguo yanyi and other dramatic fictions, which portray him as cruel and vicious. In fact, however, Cao Cao was a fine strategist and politician who restored a measure of order after the political turmoil and civil war that brought the end of Han.The present work offers a detailed account of Cao Cao's life and times, using historical materials and the man's own words from official proclamations and personal poetry. Exceptionally for such a distant time, there is sufficient information in the texts to provide a rounded interpretation of one of the great characters of early China.

List of ChaptersEdit

  1. Preliminary Material
  2. Introduction
  3. Grandson of a Eunuch 155-189
  4. To Guard the Emperor 190-196
  5. To Battle at Guandu 197-200
  6. The Conduct of Civil War 153-202
  7. Conquest of the Nort 201-207
  8. Red Cliffs 208
  9. Military Matters 209-217
  10. Court and Capital
  11. Tensions of Loyalty 210-217
  12. The Last Years 218-220
  13. Another Life: History, Anecdote and Fiction
  14. Bibliography
  15. Index

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