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. This title has been awarded the Stanislas Julien prize for 2011.