No one has hitherto had the breadth of imagination and intellectual boldness to describe and analyse government throughout recorded history and throughout the world. This unique study of government is the culmination of the work of the late S. E. Finer, one of the leading political scientists of the twentieth century. Ranging over 5,000 years, from the Sumerian city state to the modern European nation state, five themes emerge: state-building, military formats, belief systems, social stratification, and timespan. The three volumes examine both representative and exceptional polities, and focus on political elites of different types. Ancient Monarchies and Empires opens with Finer's masterly Conceptual Prologue, setting out the entire scope and structure of The History. Books One and Two then consider early examples of the predominantly palace' type of polity, notably in respect of the Kingdoms of Egypt and the Empires of Assyria, Persia, Han China, and Rome; interspersed with consideration of the exceptional' Jewish Kingdoms and the Greek and Roman Republics. Professor Finer's cogent descriptive analysis offers both an invaluable reference resource and an exhilarating journey across time and space.