Most of us are familiar with the Battle of Red Cliff in the Three Kingdoms. However, the popular version of that battle, written by Luo Guan Zhong, is mostly fictional.
In Luo’s story, Cao Cao was said to have chained his boats together to prevent them for rocking, causing motion sickness in his troops. In fact, Cao’s soldiers were not sick from sailing but from an epidemic.
Cao Cao decided to abort the invasion of Dongwu and withdraw. He had been advised to abandon the boats – which was a brilliant idea even before epidemics were known to be caused by human-human transmission. Not wanting Zhou Yu to pick up his boats for free, Cao Cao set fire to them himself before withdrawing to Jingzhou overland.
In most movies and operas, Cao Cao is portrayed as a ruthless tyrant. The real Cao Cao is a bit more complex than that. At least he cared enough for his soldiers not to fight during an epidemic; even if it meant sacrificing 1000 boats.
The Three Kingdoms I’ve presented in my books is based on the popular (fictional) version. I’ll soon start work on a couple of new titles based on selected episodes presented from a historical perspective. In other words, Three Kingdoms minus the fake news. For centuries, the fictional version has been more popular. Let’s see if my style of presenting the truth can give engaging fiction a run for its money when I present it in English.
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