This volume gives recognition to the fact that China's protracted revolution has finally found fulfillment. For the first time, Chinese history, in its full dimension, is being merged with Western civilization. The present essay accordingly explains how a broadened perspective can be arrived at to encompass the unprecedented event and to supply leads as to whether the author's opinions shall be strengthened or modified; also, if they can be verified or altogether refuted. While reactions to the proposal may eventually vary, in exercising initiative within a pioneering effort the commitment by the author had to be firm and resolute. For this reason, even though I am striving to be as impartial as possible, the disclosure of bibliographical sources may still sound defensive and self-serving to some readers. And in view of the format of the volume, it could not be very lengthy.
In the following discussion, therefore, emphasis is on the "rock-bed" sources of information essential to the study, and a few strategically located items. Several pieces of work by the author himself are cited with explanations, as they lead to titles of interest which cannot be accommodated within this essay.
No serious researcher of Chinese history can completely ignore the Twenty-four Dynastic Histories (Ershisi shi), the primary depository of traditional historiography. Most of the components within the series were prepared by the succeeding dynasties to elucidate their predecessors; in doing so they justified their own takeover. The theme of the mandate of heaven inevitably carries along elaborations on virtues and morals. Moreover, because they were compiled over millennia, the individual sections differ from each other in terminology and diction. Today, the most economical and readable version is the punctuated edition published by Zhonghua shuju ( Beijing, 1959-1974). It comes to 76,815 pages bound in 233 volumes.
A vertical stem of information, entwining historical events with economic data, provides the spine of the present volume. It so happens that within the Twenty-four Dynastic Histories there are twelve "Food and Money Monographs" ( Shihuo zhi). By food the writers really meant landholding and agriculture, and by money, commerce and taxation. Six of them have already been treated by modern scholars, appearing in