【摘要/Abstract】I take men from Donghai, a region of northeast China, as a case study for examining models of success in the Western Han (206 B.C.E.–9 C.E.). Employing digital tools to mine data from The Grand Scribe’s Records (Shi ji) and The History of the Western Han (Han shu), I explore the social networks and career patterns of men from a region that enjoyed a reputation for producing a remarkable number of high officials and celebrated Ru. I focus on three questions. First, what was the social mechanism that enabled people to distinguish themselves at both the local and the imperial levels? Second, did these celebrated men from Donghai serve as bridges connecting the local to the capital, directing resources back to their hometown and helping their local fellows achieve success? Third, did their positions in the central government remove them from local society by transforming them into capital-dwelling elites primarily concerned about the success of their families in the central court? By answering these questions, I probe the dynamics between bureaucratic hierarchy, social networks, and the flow of talent and resources. I investigate various understandings of prestige and the strategies for climbing the ladder of success. Furthermore, I ask which forms of social prestige—for example, academic reputation, wealth, social networks—could bypass the hierarchical system imposed by the imperial bureaucracy, providing direct access to lofty positions. Did the patterns of success seen in the Donghai group reflect a bias built into the sources, constitute a regional variation, or provide a universal model for success in early imperial China?