"This book is the fourth in a series on international business history. As such, it deals with two subjects: business and history. The first theme is of great interest to its billions of practitioners around the globe each day, whether the discriminating shopper at Wal-Mart or the corporate executive trying to beat the competition.
The other theme, history, may not be as appealing, at least not at first. Classroom experiences memorizing dates and events leave a bad taste with many. Failing the inevitable pop quiz also lingers in the psyche. Much deeper reasons for North American's aversion to history exist. Citizens of the United States and Canada consider themselves part of the New World, as opposed to the Old.
Seeing themselves as heirs of the world's oldest continuous civilization, the Chinese, more than most of the world, take history very seriously. Their view of their fairly central place in human development impacts their actions, policies, and worldview today. The Shang dynasty (1600-1027 BCE) coined the term "Zhong Guo", the Middle Kingdom. Here exists a self-concept that may be exaggerated but is just as significant as the maxim "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness" for Americans and "True North strong and free" for Canadians. These all may be semi-mythical ideas, but all are part of each nation's memory bank and how they view themselves and their place in the world."