Qin Shi Huangdi, the First Emperor of China, was a man of incredible contrasts. He was a visionary leader who united all of China’s warring kingdoms into one unified country, thus paving the way for the modern Chinese nation. He developed a national currency, a standard writing style, and a road network that stitched the country together. Yet he was also evil and cruel. He burned books, imposed harsh taxes, and killed thousands of people.
The story of Qin Shi Huangdi brackets the story of ancient China emerging into modern times. It’s a story of a country whose discoveries, such as silk, tea and the iron plow, had a significant impact on the entire world but whose people lived simply, unaware of their vast influence. Although the story of Qin Shi Huangdi ended with his unusual death, China’s story was just beginning.