The Han-Xiongnu War

133 BC–89 AD

The Struggle of China and a Steppe Empire Told Through Its Key Figures

The Han-Xiongnu War (133 BC – AD 89) pitted the Han dynasty of China against a confederation of nomadic steppe peoples, the Xiongnu Empire. In campaigns waged on a huge scale by the standards of contemporary Western warfare (several hundred thousand soldiers were fielded at the Battle of Mobei in 119 BC), the two states fought for control of Central Asia, hungry for its rich resources and Western trade links. China’s victory set the stage for millennia of imperial rule and a vast sphere of influence in Asia.

Scott Forbes Crawford examines the war in a lively, engaging narrative. He builds a mosaic
encompassing the centuries of conflict through biographies of fifteen historical figures: the Chinese and Xiongnu emperors who first led their armies into battle; ‘peace bride’ Princess Jieyou, whose marriage to a steppe king forged a vital Chinese alliance and positioned her to
feed intelligence to the Han Court; the explorer-diplomat Zhang Qian, who almost inadvertently established the Silk Road, among other pivotal individuals. Their stories capture the war’s breadth, the enduring impact on Han society and statecraft in what became a Chinese golden age, and the doomed resistance of the Xiongnu to an ever-strengthening juggernaut.

The Han-Xiongnu War, 133 BC–89 AD: The Struggle of China and a Steppe Empire Told Through Its Key Figures
“Scott Forbes Crawford has crafted a superb historical narrative about the clash between two ancient superpowers that influences Asia to this very day. For those who might wonder whether ancient history can be a page-turner, The Han-Xiongnu War assuredly answers that question in the affirmative.”
— M. A. Aldrich, author of The Search for a Vanishing Beijing and Ulaanbaatar Beyond Water and Grass
Scott Forbes Crawford - Novelist, Historian, Author

Scott Forbes Crawford

There is a Chinese saying, “One rarely regrets time spent reading books,” and though he has enjoyed various adventures in his life, books have given Scott Forbes Crawford many of his greatest joys.

When at age eight Scott moved with his family from Washington, DC to Tokyo, a new world of discovery and challenge opened to him. Enchanted by Japanese culture as a boy, the spell of foreign lands only deepened when as an adult Scott settled in Beijing, where he became an author (and a father).