There are indeed enough Histories of China already: why yet another one? Because the time has come for new departures; because we need to clear away the false notions with which the general public is constantly being fed by one author after another; because from time to time syntheses become necessary for the presentation of the stage reached by research. Histories of China fall, with few exceptions, into one or the other of two groups, pro-Chinese and anti-Chinese: the latter used to predominate, but today the former type is much more frequently found. We have no desire to show that China's history is the most glorious or her civilization the oldest in the world. A claim to the longest history does not establish the greatness of a civilization; the importance of a civilization becomes apparent in its achievements. A thousand years ago China's civilization towered over those of the peoples of Europe. Today the West is leading; tomorrow China may lead again. We need to realize how China became what she is, and to note the paths pursued by the Chinese in human thought and action. The lives of emperors, the great battles, this or the other famous deed, matter less to us than the discovery of the great forces that underlie these features and govern the human element. Only when we have knowledge of those forces and counter-forces can we realize the significance of the great personalities who have emerged in China; and only then will the history of China become intelligible even to those who have little knowledge of the Far East and can make nothing of a mere enumeration of dynasties and campaigns. Views on China's history have radically changed in recent years. Until about thirty years ago our knowledge of the earliest times in China depended entirely on Chinese documents of much later date; now we are able to rely on many excavations which enable us to check the written sources. Ethnological, anthropological, and sociological research has begun for China and her neighbours; thus we are in a position to write with some confidence about the making of China, and about her ethnical development, where formerly we could only grope in the dark. The claim that "the Chinese race" produced the high Chinese civilization entirely by its own efforts, thanks to its special gifts, has become just as untenable as the other theory that immigrants from the West, some conceivably from Europe, carried civilization to the Far East. We know now that in early times there was no "Chinese race", there were not even "Chinese", just as there were no "French" and no "Swiss" two thousand years ago. The "Chinese" resulted from the amalgamation of many separate peoples of different races in an enormously complicated and long-drawn-out process, as with all the other high civilizations of the world. The picture of ancient and medieval China has also been entirely changed since it has been realized that the sources on which reliance has always been placed were not objective, but deliberately and emphatically represented a particular philosophy. The reports on the emperors and ministers of the earliest period are not historical at all, but served as examples of ideas of social policy or as glorifications of particular noble families. Myths such as we find to this day among China's neighbours were made into history; gods were made men and linked together by long family trees. We have been able to touch on all these things only briefly, and have had to dispense with any account of the complicated processes that have taken place here. The official dynastic histories apply to the course of Chinese history the criterion of Confucian ethics; for them history is a textbook of ethics, designed to show by means of examples how the man of high character should behave or not behave. We have to go deeper, and try to extract the historic truth from these records. Many specialized studies by Chinese, Japanese, and Western scholars on problems of Chinese history are now available and of assistance in this task. However, some Chinese writers still imagine that they are serving their country by yet again dishing up the old fables for the foreigner as history; and some Europeans, knowing no better or aiming at setting alongside the unedifying history of Europe the shining example of the conventional story of China, continue in the old groove. To this day, of course, we are far from having really worked through every period of Chinese history; there are long periods on which scarcely any work has yet been done. Thus the picture we are able to give today has no finality about it and will need many modifications. But the time has come for a new synthesis, so that criticism may proceed along the broadest possible front and push our knowledge further forward. The present work is intended for the general reader and not for the specialist, who will devote his attention to particular studies and to the original texts. In view of the wide scope of the work, I have had to confine myself to placing certain lines of thought in the foreground and paying less attention to others. I have devoted myself mainly to showing the main lines of China's social and cultural development down to the present day. But I have also been concerned not to leave out of account China's relations with her neighbours. Now that we have a better knowledge of China's neighbours, the Turks, Mongols, Tibetans, Tunguses, Tai, not confined to the narratives of Chinese, who always speak only of "barbarians", we are better able to realize how closely China has been associated with her neighbours from the first day of her history to the present time; how greatly she is indebted to them, and how much she has given them. We no longer see China as a great civilization surrounded by barbarians, but we study the Chinese coming to terms with their neighbours, who had civilizations of quite different types but nevertheless developed ones. It is usual to split up Chinese history under the various dynasties that have ruled China or parts thereof. The beginning or end of a dynasty does not always indicate the beginning or the end of a definite period of China's social or cultural development. We have tried to break China's history down into the three large periods--"Antiquity", "The Middle Ages", and "Modern Times". This does not mean that we compare these periods with periods of the same name in Western history although, naturally, we find some similarities with the development of society and culture in the West. Every attempt towards periodization is to some degree arbitrary: the beginning and end of the Middle Ages, for instance, cannot be fixed to a year, because development is a continuous process. To some degree any periodization is a matter of convenience, and it should be accepted as such. The account of Chinese history here given is based on a study of the original documents and excavations, and on a study of recent research done by Chinese, Japanese and Western scholars, including my own research. In many cases, these recent studies produced new data or arranged new data in a new way without an attempt to draw general conclusions. By putting such studies together, by fitting them into the pattern that already existed, new insights into social and cultural processes have been gained. The specialist in the field will, I hope, easily recognize the sources, primary or secondary, on which such new insights represented in this book are based. Brief notes are appended for each chapter; they indicate the most important works in English and provide the general reader with an opportunity of finding further information on the problems touched on. For the specialist brief hints to international research are given, mainly in cases in which different interpretations have been proposed. Chinese words are transcribed according to the Wade-Giles system with the exception of names for which already a popular way of transcription exists (such as Peking). Place names are written without hyphen, if they remain readable.