The book of 20 juan was compiled by the Song-period scholar Li You 李攸, courtesy name Haode 好德. Li hailed from Jiangyang 江陽 (modern Luzhou 瀘州, Sichuan) and served as gentleman for discussion (chengyilang 承議郎).
The book had originally a length of 60 juan, but the second part went lost after the downfall of the Southern Song dynasty 南宋 (1127-1279), perhaps intentionally because it included wide information on the powerful Counsellor Qin Hui 秦檜 (1091-1155), who was seen as a traitor of the 'national cause'. The version included in the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 has been compiled as a collection of fragements quoted in the Ming-period 明 (1368-1644) encyclopaedia Yongle dadian 永樂大典.
The resulting book is arranged according to the 25 chapter titles mentioned in Zhao Xibian's 趙希弁 (fl. 1249) bibliographical book Dushuzhi 讀書志. These chapters were by and large the same as in most others encyclopaedias on statecraft of the huiyao 會要-type, for instance, the Song huiyao 宋代會.
The Songchao shishi was written with great care and is therefore a very reliable source concerning persons, place names and calendrical dates. It also includes some detailed information not recorded in other, more attractive, histories. Li You in many cases added critical information about details. Ji Yun 紀昀 (1724-1805), one of the compilers of the Siku quanshu, therefore recommended the book to be included in the imperial series. Of great interest is the in-depth information on local administration during the mid-Southern Song period.
In 1935 the Commercial Press (Shangyu Yinshuguan 商務印書館) published a modern edition that was in 1955 republished as a facsimile by the Zhonghua Press 中華書局.
|1||祖宗世次||The imperial dynasty|
|2||登極赦||Amnesties on accession to the throne|
|4-5||郊赦||Amnesties of the suburbs|
|6||廟制||The system of ancestral temples|
|7||道釋||Daoism and Buddhism|
|配享||Sacrifices for deceased ministers|
|10||宰執拜罷||Appointment and dismission of high ministers|
|樂律||Music and measures|
|15||耕田||Agriculture [and household registers]|
|16||兵刑||Military, and penal law|
|17||削平僭偽||Suppression of usurpers|
|18-19||陞降州縣||Appointment and dismission of local governors|
|20||經略幽燕||Strategies [to regain the northeastern provinces] You and Yan|