Political and economic development in China during the Han dynasty laid the pattern that Chinese agriculture was to follow for more than two thousand years. This specialized, market-oriented, intensive-farming system evolved for several reasons: efforts of the dynasty to deflect the threat of a strong merchant class, demographic pressures, and the development of sophisticated cropping patterns. Furthermore, the farmer was also able to either turn inward to his own locality or expand his market when political or social conditions allowed.
In this first study of the development of early China's agriculture to appear in English, Professor Hsu has drawn on a variety of sources to bring the reader a coherent picture of the way in which the agrarian economy developed. The first part of the book is his interpretation of the many sources he has used -- archeological remains, official documents of the period, and contemporary accounts. The second part comprises more than two hundred translations of the historical sources.
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