Sima Guang and His History Book
Sima Guang (1019-1086) was a statesman and historian of the Northern Song Dynasty. He was born in today"s Shanxi Province into an official"s family. He served as a prime minister for the Song court at one time.
Sima Guang was convinced that those governing the country should be well versed in history. He spent a total of 19 years writing a history of China covering 1,362 years-from 403 BC to 959 AD. This magnum opus work comprises 294 volumes containing more than 3,000,000 words. Sima Guang had the encouragement of first Emperor Yingzong and then his successor Emperor Shenzong. He also had the assistance of many famous scholars.
Sima Guang was so absorbed in his work that he even invented an "alarm pillow"which prevented him from sleeping too long. The wooden pillow was designed to slip from under his head whenever he turned over. It was Emperor Shenzong who gave Sima Guang"s history its title of Zizhitongjian (Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government).