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Law's Political Foundations: Rivers, Rifles, Rice and Religion explains the development of the two basic systems of public and private law and their historical transformations.
Its four narrative chapters commence with the development of Chinese legal tradition as a public law order in which regulatory and penal rules were central, compared to the primacy of private law in Western Europe. China was not only among the earliest but also historically the most enduring example of public law order.
The European Legal Tradition in contrast became the source of the private law structures of legal systems worldwide. Included here are the Japanese and Hispanic American experiences as pivotal links that help to identify foundational factors that underpin the historical development of public and private law orders.
Also explained in both contexts is the endurance of private ordering both within and beyond the law. As described, these are stories of rivers, rifles, rice, and religion.