The Hanji 漢紀 "Annals of the Han dynasty", later called Qianhanji 前漢紀 "Annals of the Former Han dynasty", is a history of the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) written in an annalistic style (biannianti 編年體). It has a length of 30 juan "scrolls" and was written by the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) official Xun Yue 荀悅 who is known for his book Shenjian 申鑒, in which he tried to demonstrate how a strong government would work in a time when the empire suffered of an increasing decentralisation. In 198 CE Emperor Xian 漢獻帝 (r. 189-220) ordered Xun Yue compiling a new history of the Former Han period because he was not content with the irritatingly dispersed style of Ban Gu's 班固 history of the Former Han, the Hanshu 漢書 (a book later to become the official dynastic history of that period), which was written in a biographic-thematic style (jizhuanti 紀傳體). He was rather to use an annalistic style as it was common in the Confucian classic Chunqiu 春秋 "Spring and Autumn Annals". The book begins with the ascension of Liu Bang 劉邦 (Han Gaozu 漢高祖, r. 206-195 BCE) to the throne, as first emperor of the dynasty, and ends with the dead of the usurper Wang Mang 王莽 (r. 8-22 CE).
Xun Yue did not write a totally new book but he simply abbreviated the text of the Hanshu and arranged the differents parts of the biographies in a chronological style. But he also added documents and information not found in the Hanshu.
The greatest merit of Xun Yue is that he continued using the annalistic style and defended it as an excellent alternative to the biographic-thematic style that was to become one of the most important styles of historiography in traditional China. Xun Yue furthermore added his own thoughts about mistakes in government at the end of paragraphs or chapters. These comments served to provide the imperial reader with a reflection about good or bad government.
The commonly cited version is that of the collectaneum Sibu congkan 四部叢刊.
Source: Wu Shuping 吳樹平 (1992). "Hanji 漢紀", in: Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史, vol. 1, pp. 346 f. Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe.
1.-4. 前漢高祖皇帝紀 Emperor Han Gaozu (r. 206/202-195)
5. 前漢孝惠皇帝紀 Emperor Han (Xiao-)Huidi (r. 195-188)
6. 前漢高后紀卷 Empress Lü (Gaohou) (r. 187-180)
7.-8. 前漢孝文皇帝紀 Emperor Han (Xiao-)Wendi (r. 180-157)
9. 前漢孝景皇帝紀 Emperor Han (Xiao-)Jingdi (r. 157-141)
10.-15. 前漢孝武皇帝紀 Emperor Han (Xiao-)Wudi (r. 141-87)
16. 前漢孝昭皇帝紀 Emperor Han (Xiao-)Zhaodi (r. 87-74)
17.-20. 前漢孝宣皇帝紀 Emperor Han (Xiao-)Xuandi (r. 74-49)
21.-23. 前漢孝元皇帝紀 Emperor Han (Xiao-)Yuandi (r. 49-33)
24.-27. 前漢孝成皇帝紀 Emperor Han (Xiao-)Chengdi (r. 33-7)
28.-29. 前漢孝哀皇帝紀 Emperor Han (Xiao-)Aidi (r. 7-1)
30. 前漢孝平皇帝紀 Emperor Han (Xiao-)Pingdi (r. 1 BCE-5 CE)