The 60-juan long book narrates the events between the uprising of Zhu Yuanzhang 朱元璋 (known as Emperor Taizu 明太祖, r. 1368-1398), the eventual founder of the Ming dynasty 明 (1368-1644), in 1351 until the end of the Southern Ming empire under the Prince of Gui 桂王 (the Yongli emperor 永曆, r. 1647-1661) in 1661. The author made use of the official dynastic history Mingshi 明史, its draft Mingshi gao 明史稿, and the veritable records of the dynasty, Mingshilu 明實錄, but enriches these sources with stories of unofficial origin.
The book is arranged similarly as the chronicle Hanji 漢紀. In was printed in 1871 by the Jiangsu Press 江蘇書局, and the most common version is that of the Worldbook Company 世界書局. It is also included in the reprint series Sibu beiyao 四部備要.