Sun Tzu The Art Of War Bibliography Meaning

On By In 1

Bibliography

The following are the oldest Chinese treatises on war, after Sun Tzu. The notes on each have been drawn principally from the SSU K`U CH`UAN SHU CHIEN MING MU LU, ch. 9, fol. 22 sqq.


1. WU TZU, in 1 CHUAN or 6 chapters. By Wu Ch`i (d. 381 B.C.). A genuine work. See SHIH CHI, ch. 65.


2. SSU-MA FA, in 1 CHUAN or 5 chapters. Wrongly attributed to Ssu-ma Jang-chu of the 6th century B.C. Its date, however, must be early, as the customs of the three ancient dynasties are constantly to be met within its pages. See SHIH CHI, ch. 64.

The SSU K`U CH`UAN SHU (ch. 99, f. 1) remarks that the oldest three treatises on war, SUN TZU, WU TZU and SSU-MA FA, are, generally speaking, only concerned with things strictly military -- the art of producing, collecting, training and drilling troops, and the correct theory with regard to measures of expediency, laying plans, transport of goods and the handling of soldiers -- in strong contrast to later works, in which the science of war is usually blended with metaphysics, divination and magical arts in general.


3. LIU T`AO, in 6 CHUAN, or 60 chapters. Attributed to Lu Wang (or Lu Shang, also known as T`ai Kung) of the 12th century B.C. [74] But its style does not belong to the era of the Three Dynasties. Lu Te-ming (550-625 A.D.) mentions the work, and enumerates the headings of the six sections so that the forgery cannot have been later than Sui dynasty.


4. WEI LIAO TZU, in 5 CHUAN. Attributed to Wei Liao (4th cent. B.C.), who studied under the famous Kuei-ku Tzu. The work appears to have been originally in 31 chapters, whereas the text we possess contains only 24. Its matter is sound enough in the main, though the strategical devices differ considerably from those of the Warring States period. It is been furnished with a commentary by the well-known Sung philosopher Chang Tsai.


5. SAN LUEH, in 3 CHUAN. Attributed to Huang-shih Kung, a legendary personage who is said to have bestowed it on Chang Liang (d. 187 B.C.) in an interview on a bridge. But here again, the style is not that of works dating from the Ch`in or Han period. The Han Emperor Kuang Wu [25-57 A.D.] apparently quotes from it in one of his proclamations; but the passage in question may have been inserted later on, in order to prove the genuineness of the work. We shall not be far out if we refer it to the Northern Sung period [420-478 A.D.], or somewhat earlier.


6. LI WEI KUNG WEN TUI, in 3 sections. Written in the form of a dialogue between T`ai Tsung and his great general Li Ching, it is usually ascribed to the latter. Competent authorities consider it a forgery, though the author was evidently well versed in the art of war.


7. LI CHING PING FA (not to be confounded with the foregoing) is a short treatise in 8 chapters, preserved in the T`ung Tien, but not published separately. This fact explains its omission from the SSU K`U CH`UAN SHU.


8. WU CH`I CHING, in 1 CHUAN. Attributed to the legendary minister Feng Hou, with exegetical notes by Kung-sun Hung of the Han dynasty (d. 121 B.C.), and said to have been eulogized by the celebrated general Ma Lung (d. 300 A.D.). Yet the earliest mention of it is in the SUNG CHIH. Although a forgery, the work is well put together.


Considering the high popular estimation in which Chu-ko Liang has always been held, it is not surprising to find more than one work on war ascribed to his pen. Such are (1) the SHIH LIU TS`E (1 CHUAN), preserved in the YUNG LO TA TIEN; (2) CHIANG YUAN (1 CHUAN); and (3) HSIN SHU (1 CHUAN), which steals wholesale from Sun Tzu. None of these has the slightest claim to be considered genuine.

Most of the large Chinese encyclopedias contain extensive sections devoted to the literature of war. The following references may be found useful: --

T`UNG TIEN (circa 800 A.D.), ch. 148-162. T`AI P`ING YU LAN (983), ch. 270-359. WEN HSIEN TUNG K`AO (13th cent.), ch. 221. YU HAI (13th cent.), ch. 140, 141. SAN TS`AI T`U HUI (16th cent). KUANG PO WU CHIH (1607), ch. 31, 32. CH`IEN CH`IO LEI SHU (1632), ch. 75. YUAN CHIEN LEI HAN (1710), ch. 206-229. KU CHIN T`U SHU CHI CH`ENG (1726), section XXX, esp. ch. 81-90. HSU WEN HSIEN T`UNG K`AO (1784), ch. 121-134. HUANG CH`AO CHING SHIH WEN PIEN (1826), ch. 76, 77.

The bibliographical sections of certain historical works also deserve mention: --

CH`IEN HAN SHU, ch. 30. SUI SHU, ch. 32-35. CHIU T`ANG SHU, ch. 46, 47. HSIN T`ANG SHU, ch. 57,60. SUNG SHIH, ch. 202-209. T`UNG CHIH (circa 1150), ch. 68.

To these of course must be added the great Catalogue of the Imperial Library: --

SSU K`U CH`UAN SHU TSUNG MU T`I YAO (1790), ch. 99, 100.

Literature Network » Sun Tzu » The Art of War » Bibliography

Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily

In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.

Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.

Languages: English, Espanol | Site Copyright © Jalic Inc. 2000 - 2015. All Rights Reserved.

As Seen In: USA Today "Hot Sites"

Credit to Nicholas Morrow, Johns Hopkins University SAIS

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is perhaps the oldest and one of the most widely read classics of military strategy. Published in ancient China an estimated 2,500 years ago, it has remained “the most important military treatise in Asia” according to the historian and translator Ralph D. Sawyer.[1] This classic of Eastern thought draws from Taoist philosophy and addresses the conduct of war and competition between states with poeticism unlike any classic of Western military theory. Thought to be the transcriptions of a general’s advice to his king, The Art of War emphasizes the use of the unorthodox and deception to overcome adversaries without jeopardizing the dynasty’s existence during a period of increase lethality of warfare. Since its ancient origins, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War has become one of the most influential documents on statesmanship and military strategy and is a classic in the East and West.

­

Origins of The Art of War

Reading The Art of War today poses unique difficulties because it is as much a historical artifact as it is a modern strategic guideline. Originally written in ancient Chinese, the translation of The Art of War is a source of inquiry and debate for scholars. Since 1905 when British Royal Field Artillery Captain E.F. Calthrop made the first English translation while a student in Japan, successive English translations have increasingly sought to add greater historical and philosophical context. The Art of War was widely read in Asia—making its way to Japan around A.D. 516 via Korea.[2] Then in 1772 it was translated from Chinese to a European language (French) for the first time by the French Jesuit, Jean Joseph Marie Amiot, who came across the text in Beijing. The Art of War did not gain its popularity in Western Europe though until Lionel Giles’ 1910 translation.

Today, there are dozens of translations. The most popular include General Samuel B. Griffith’s classic 1963 edition published by Oxford University Press and Ralph D. Sawyer’s 1994 edition renowned for his research of Sun Tzu’s historical context. The number of translations can bewilder just about any reader and the cause of their differences represent a unique challenge. Arthur Waldron addresses the importance of debating the value of each translations’ contributions to the study of Sun Tzu in a Naval War College Review article of J.H. Huang’s 1993 translation. Waldron notes that, translation, “is more than a matter of philological or semantic quibbling. It brings us to one of the fundamental questions about Chinese ‘strategic culture.’”[3] The matter of which translation to read is therefore not a simple question. This article will reference the Griffith translation when citing from The Art of War but will list other translations that have contributed to an understanding of Chinese strategic culture in the bibliography with the objective being to encourage readers to review multiple translations.

Yet another source of difficulty for understanding Sun Tzu’s original intent is his yet undetermined identity and time in which he lived. There are three major views explaining the historic origin of The Art of War largely based on an interpretation of internal evidence and anachronisms found in the text, according to Ralph D. Sawyer.[4] The first is the traditionalist view that The Art of War was written c. 512 B.C. by the historical Sun Wu, active in the last years of the Spring and Autumn period (c. 722-481 B.C.). Second, scholars that include Samuel Griffith place The Art of War at the middle-to-late Warring States period (c. 481-221 B.C.), just after the Spring and Autumn period.[5] The transition from the Spring and Autumn period to the Warring States period is characterized by the change in warfare from a ritual engaged in for honor to one of China’s most chaotic periods of conflict among declining hegemons in which “war was no longer a regulated pastime, but the ultimate instrument of statecraft,” according to Griffith.[6] Finally a third school claims on the basis of interpretations of the bamboo slips discovered at Yin-ch’ueh-shan in A.D. 1972 that The Art of War was published in the last half of the fifth century B.C.[7] Further, scholars speculate as to whether the author of The Art of War is a General from these time periods or the work is a compilation produced by his acolytes. As controversial as these questions are among historians, the circumstances of Sun Tzu’s chronology are addressed to the extent generally necessary for appreciating the originality of Sun Tzu’s concepts by the extensive introductions and appendices of the most popular translations.

While one does not have to be a Sinologist or scholar of Eastern philosophy to appreciate The Art of War, a basic contextual understanding of the time in which Sun Tzu lived is beneficial for understanding his intent. Regardless of the view on when The Art of War was written, the late Spring and Autumn period or early Warring States period, Sun Tzu lived in a time of great transition in China.  The translators of the two most popular editions of The Art of War agree on this. In The Tao of Deception, Ralph D. Sawyer writes that The Art of War was, “composed against a backdrop of multiparty, internecine strife.”[8] Similarly, Samuel Griffith (who places The Art of War’s origins in the period of c. 400-320 B.C.[9]) writes that, “war had become more ferocious” and, “when Sun Tzu appeared on the scene, the feudal structure, in the ultimate stages of disintegration, was being replaced by an entirely different type of society.”[10] As a sort of modern day National Security Advisor, Sun Tzu (which translates as Master Sun) would have been trusted to advance his king’s goals without risking the existence of his regime among a violent, multi-state system. Today, strategists benefit from the basic agreement among scholars that The Art of War is the product of a respected ancient Chinese military advisor during a time of intense competition between multi-polar warring states that endangered their own existence through conflict.

The Art of War is sometimes called the ‘thirteen chapters’ because it comprises thirteen major sections. Its structure and format are unique from that of any Western classic. The chapters are presumably the transcribed aphorisms of Sun Tzu to his king or acolytes. In terse and enigmatic quips, the thirteen chapters span topics from statecraft to the methods for marching an army. Their breadth, from the grand strategic to tactical, in such a short text, lends them to expansive interpretations that pose a challenge for most Western readers seeking to understand Sun Tzu’s original intent. Also, as with any disputed translation, the titles of the thirteen chapters vary from translation to translation, further opening the text up to interpretation. Griffith and Sawyer interpret The Art of War’s structure and evident attention to every facet of war to show Sun Tzu’s recognition of warfare’s increase capacity for the destruction of the state. Such a rational and wide scope on all aspects of warfare and statecraft would not be necessary in earlier times when war did not endanger the existence of the state. Sun Tzu’s recognition of the changing consequences of war is evident in the first chapter, Estimates, which begins, “war is a matter of vital importance to the State; the province of life or death; the road to survival or ruin.”[11]The Art of War presents a doctrine that emerges as the result of the intense competition for the state’s survival and emphasizes the use of unorthodox warfare, known as ch’i, in relation to cheng, or the orthodox style of direct warfare commonly associated with Western strategy.

Major Themes: Realpolitik and Deception

Sun Tzu’s emphasis on the unorthodox (also known as the indirect approach) introduces an element of psychology in warfare that distinguishes The Art of War from most other military classics. Henry Kissinger, likened Chinese statesmanship’s, “tendency to view the entire strategic landscape as part of a single whole” to Sun Tzu’s recognition that, “everything is relevant and connected.”[12] Approaching The Art of War with Kissinger’s framework in mind helps explain the larger meaning of Sun Tzu’s chapters on minor topics—weather, terrain, spies, logistics, and morale—which independently mean little. Establishing their connected and shifting relative importance to one another is Sun Tzu’s most important insight, according to Kissinger. Once the interconnectedness of everything in warfare is established, success depends on the accuracy of the strategist’s calculus weighing each component’s relative importance and war becomes an effort to deceive your enemies into arriving at incorrect solutions—not just a battle of the wills as depicted by some interpretations of the Western way of war. The Art of War’s thirteen chapters present a guideline for deceiving an opponent in warfare on the basis of Sun Tzu’s insight—that warfare depends on rationality.

The main characteristics of The Art of War that make it a foundational text of realpolitik are the analytical nature and rational self-control with which Sun Tzu advises the employment of military power. “His entire approach to employing the army is thoroughly analytical, mandating careful planning and the formulation of an overall strategy before commencing the campaign,” writes Ralph D. Sawyer.[13] Sun Tzu’s measured plan for warfare extends to control over emotions that he states can cloud rationality to the detriment of the commander. Sawyer explains, “haste, fear of being labeled a coward, and personal emotions such as anger and hatred should never be permitted to adversely influence state and command decisionmaking.”[14] In contrast, the expectation for emotion in warfare from the classic Western military strategist, Carl von Clausewitz’s, paradoxical trinity is that emotion is ever present in conflict and is neither inherently positive nor negative.[15]

The Art of War focuses on disrupting an enemy’s ability for rational behavior using manipulation in order to create the conditions for an easy victory and the minimal use of military force to achieve national ends. Sun Tzu’s attention to influencing his enemy’s decisions is foundational to his method of warfare. “What distinguishes Sun Tzu from Western writers on strategy is the emphasis on the psychological elements over the purely military,” wrote Henry Kissinger in On China. [16] The means by which Sun Tzu advises this are, “deception, the creation of false appearances to mystify and delude the enemy, the indirect approach, ready adaptability to the enemy situation, flexible and coordinated manoeuver of separate combat elements, and speedy concentration against points of weakness,” according to Samuel Griffith.[17] These themes are discussed in chapters that detail tactics and operations—the route of the army’s march, the formation of archers, the collection of intelligence. Each, though, are done in a manner in which to deceive and gain a psychological advantage over the opponent.

The dual theme of deception and espionage is prevalent throughout The Art of War. On one side, "all warfare is based on deception," said Sun Tzu in the first chapter, Estimates.[18] The assumption is that warfare is a constant appraisal of your enemy and success comes from capitalizing on your enemy’s incorrect estimates. “Therefore, when capable, feign incapacity; when active, inactivity. When near, make it appear that you are far away; when far away, that you are near. Offer the enemy a bait to lure him; feign disorder and strike him,” continues Sun Tzu.[19] A key component of an estimate is the collecting of information to inform decisions. Along these lines, Sun Tzu devotes an entire chapter to espionage. Sun Tzu describes five types of agents used to both deceive an enemy and collect accurate information in order to overcome your adversary’s efforts to deceive you. Their purpose is to provide “foreknowledge,” information about an adversary’s plans in advance, and to conduct disinformation campaigns behind enemy lines—operations very similar to today’s intelligence collection and covert action operations. Sun Tzu calls these agents: “native, inside, doubled, expendable, and living.”[20] Each type of agent has a separate purpose and would be employed independently to vary the sources of collection and confirm information. His advice for using espionage to a commander’s advantage is one of the earliest and most sophisticated treatments of the subject and shows the importance of information and rational decision making for Sun Tzu.

The unorthodox is second major theme of The Art of War. Sun Tzu is recognized as the progenitor of what is called ch’i, herein, and known respectively as the indirect approach or unorthodox method by Samuel Griffith and Ralph D. Sawyer. Ch’i is an ancient Taoist philosophical concept with an almost mystical role in ancient Chinese history. Sawyer defines ch’i as, “the unusual, unexpected, marvelous, strange, heterodox, and sometimes eccentric.”[21] The pairing of these two methods, by using for example, a direct, frontal assault to distract the enemy from the indirect, flanking maneuver is done to keep your opponent off balance. “He who knows the art of the direct and the indirect approach will be victorious. Such is the art of maneuvering,” Sun Tzu is quoted saying in The Art of War.[22] Executing ch’i is the ultimate reason for the deception, espionage, and manipulation Sun Tzu advises and it is done by manipulating an enemy for the purpose of surprising and exploiting a confused enemy force. Sun Tzu describes how to achieve this in his chapter on manoeuver, “march by an indirect route and divert the enemy by enticing him with a bait. So doing, you may set out after he does and arrive before him. One able to do this understands the strategy of the direct and the indirect.”[23] Such operations achieve the goal of tiring your enemy and forcing them to fight on ground that is to your advantage. Here, in Sun Tzu’s example of ch’i, he explains the purpose of deception.

The challenge of command is another major theme of The Art of War. Sun Tzu lived during a time of heightened stakes in warfare that necessitated the professionalization of the military and its leadership. Effective management of the army came to be a focal point of Sun Tzu’s advice. “The critical element is spirit, technically known as ch’i—the essential, vital energy of life,” writes Sawyer.[24] (The Romanized spelling and pronunciation of this word is the same as the unorthodox/indirect approach but has a different meaning.) This spirit will enable the troops to fight harder and depends on materiel provisions as well as the leadership’s clarity of purpose. Command was a combination of fear and respect. “If a general indulges his troops but is unable to employ them; if he loves them but cannot enforce his commands; if the troops are disorderly and he is unable to control them, they may be compared to spoiled children, and are useless,” The Art of War quotes Sun Tzu saying.[25] This warning and Sun Tzu’s theory of command relates to an anecdote from his biography in the histories of Ssu-ma Ch'ien. It is written there that when Sun Tzu came to the attention of King of Wu, Sun Tzu said he could train the king’s concubines to fight. He then called out the concubines and trained them by executing the leaders when the group did not obey his orders.[26] This story intimates the culture of command Sun Tzu established during a time when warfare called for swift victories delivered by fearless soldiers and a leader that emphasized the psychology of warfare. 

Influence: Historical and Modern

The Art of War is the most widely known of China’s military classics and has had formative significance for both ancient and modern China’s statecraft and military strategy. The idea that China, or any other country, has a common understanding of strategy based on its collective historical experience is known as ‘strategic culture.’ Originally introduced with reference to the Soviet Union’s nuclear strategy by Jack L. Snyder in a 1977 RAND report titled, The Soviet Strategic Culture: Implications for Limited Nuclear Operations, Snyder defined strategic culture as, “the sum total of ideas, conditioned emotional responses, and patterns of habitual behavior that members of a national strategic community have acquired through instruction or imitation and share with each other with regard to nuclear strategy.”[27] Since, the concept of strategic culture has been applied to China’s strategic literature. Strategic culture is more broadly understood to be, “a historically imposed inertia on choice that makes strategy less responsive to specific contingencies,” according to Alastair Iain Johnston.[28] As a part of the canon of China’s strategic literature, The Art of War is indisputably a part of China’s strategic culture and understanding this ancient classic’s meaning has gained new importance for students of China’s modern military modernization who believe that culture has an influence over military operations.[29]

At the foundation of Chinese strategic culture is the collection of what are often referred to as China’s seven military classics. Originally published over a time period of an estimated 1,500 years, these classics are comprised of: Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Wu Qi’s Art of War,[30] T’ai Kong's Six Secret Teachings, The Methods of the Ssu-ma, Wei Liaozi, Three Strategies of Huang Shih-kung, and Questions and Replies between Tang Taizong and Li Weigong. Together, they constitute the basis for the study of the historic origins of Chinese strategic culture. The seven military classics are recognized by China’s premier defense university, the Academy of Military Sciences, as central to the identity of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Thomas G. Mahnken notes in a Lowy Institute for International Policy report he authored titled, Secrecy and Stratagem: Understanding Chinese Strategic Culture, that, “most Chinese military leaders believe that ancient Chinese values and warfighting principles remain relevant today... PLA military handbooks routinely refer to battles fought 4,000 years ago as object lessons, and PLA leaders seek guidance from 2,500-year-old writings for modern operations. Indeed, even today, Chinese officers freely distribute translations of the Chinese military classics to their hosts.”[31] As Mahnken shows here, the enduring lessons of China’s seven military classics are still recognized by not only Western academics, but the PLA’s own scholars of China’s strategic culture.

The Art of War is the most recognized, if not the most significant contributor, to China’s strategic culture of the seven military classics. The predominance of Sun Tzu’s concepts is attributed by scholars to the founder of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Tse-tung’s adoption of The Art of War’s concepts in his military writings. Even though there are parallels between The Art of War and Mao’s revolutionary writings, Johnston and Sawyer have both sought to add historical context to China’s strategic culture, however. Griffith alludes to a false tendency to assume that because The Art of War appears to have influenced Maoism, that Chinese strategic culture is a monolithic continuation from ancient times until today. In fact, Taoist philosophy, and with it Sun Tzu and The Art of War, fell out of the favor during Confucianism and this classic was lost until its ‘rediscovery’ by Mao Tse-Tung during the war against China’s nationalists in the 1930s. Alastair Iain Johnston further challenges what he writes is, “the tendency of the literature is to focus almost exclusively on Sun Zi (an alternate spelling for Sun Tzu), compare him with Mao, and assume that an unbroken strategic-cultural chain links the two.”[32] Again, it would appear, that both Sawyer and Johnston are urging readers to be aware of historical context while still recognizing Sun Tzu’s role in influencing the ethos of the modern day People’s Republic of China.

Western culture, with its foundation in Greek and Roman conceptions of morality, is often stereotyped as rejecting the style of unorthodox warfare Sun Tzu recommends. The deception it requires is viewed as cowardly and belittles the pride exuded by direct, kinetic-intense conflict. This traditional view of the Western way of war, though popular, again does not present a monolith of Western strategic culture, either. Ralph D. Sawyer points out Maurice’s Strategikon (c. B.C. 600) as an example of a Western text that advises how to deceive your enemy. Machiavelli, as well, is known for advocating “ruthless prosecution of warfare and esteeming the use of deception in The Discourses and The Prince,” writes Sawyer.[33] The debate over the morality that surrounds these classics emphasizes the West’s disdain for the techniques of deception they advocate, however. So, while deception has always been a part of the Western way of warfare, long before Sun Tzu’s influence was felt, it has a legacy few Western strategists accept. One of the central disagreements between those that accept deception and those that do not is over whether or not to accept Sun Tzu’s main assumption that success in warfare depends on rationality. Assuming that war can be rationalized through planning differs with Western expectations for warfare found in Clausewitz’s paradoxical trinity in which war has “dominant tendencies” to include, “violence, hatred, and enmity” that, “always make war.”[34] Having acknowledged the inconsistency of this oversimplified comparison above, Sun Tzu and Clausewitz represent differing basic assumptions with respect to their expectations for warfare and the humility of strategizing.

Today we can trace the reverberations of Sun Tzu’s concepts to the modern fields of intelligence analysis, net assessment, decision-making theory, and ‘soft’ national power. Recognizing the concepts of The Art of War in the Western practice of these disciplines can improve our practical understanding of Sun Tzu’s enigmatic writing. As an example, Sun Tzu might say these fields all seek to, “know the enemy and know yourself,” so that, “in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.”[35] This aphorism remains true in modern warfare; at some level, these disciplines all seek to understand the strategic culture of an adversary. For some of these disciplines, the advent of “disruptive technologies, such as the gift of flight, eventually forced a reevaluation of theory and led to a rediscovery of sixth-century B.C. theory attributed to Sun Tzu,” writes Mark Blomme.[36] He continues, “modern theorists like Julian Corbett, John Boyd, John Warden, and Shimon Naveh extended Sun Tzu’s concepts, perhaps unwittingly, such that Sun Tzu’s theory continues to resonate within the twenty-first-century American theory of warfare.”[37] By looking at the influence of Sun Tzu’s concepts upon these disciplines we can also begin to see how Western culture has addressed Sun Tzu’s concepts in its own, independent terms rather than in the framework of a competition between realpolitik and Greco-Roman heritage.

Among those in Western culture that Sun Tzu’s The Art of War has had long-lasting influence is the field of espionage and intelligence. The creation of the Central Intelligence Agency established a new era of intelligence for which Sun Tzu’s emphasis on knowing the enemy became a raison d'etre. Allen Dulles, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1953-1961, compared the pragmatism of Sun Tzu’s emphasis on what Sun Tzu calls “foreknowledge” and intelligence gathering to early attempts at gaining advance warning from oracles and astrologers in the first chapter of his book, The Craft of Intelligence. “But in the craft of intelligence the East was ahead of the West in 400 B.C. Rejecting the oracles and the seers, who may well have played an important role in still epochs of Chinese history, Sun Tzu takes a more practical view,” wrote Dulles. [38] He continues, “To Sun Tzu belongs the credit not only for this remarkable analysis of the ways of espionage but also for the first written recommendations regarding an organized intelligence service… He comments on counterintelligence, on psychological warfare, on deception, on security, on fabricators, in short, on the whole craft of intelligence.”[39] Dulles’ regard for Sun Tzu, whose analytical approach to war and treatment of covert action, is reflected in the guiding principles of what has now become the U.S. intelligence community.

Conclusion

As the most recognized of China’s military classics and the earliest proponent of the unorthodox in military strategy, The Art of War is a classic in the East and West. This ancient document with convoluted origins and enigmatic advice has become a guide for modern strategists seeking an unorthodox approach to the existential consequences of conflict today. Sun Tzu’s increase lethality of warfare harbored the risk of existential threat to the state only more present today given the mechanization of warfare and advent of nuclear weapons. B.H. Liddell Hart, a modern proponent of the unorthodox, assures readers that Sun Tzu remains relevant today even given advances in warfare’s mechanization and the collapse of countries witnessed during his lifetime in the world wars. He extolls The Art of War as, “the best short introduction to the study of warfare, and no less valuable for constant reference in extending study of the subject.”[40] Written over 2,500 years ago, The Art of War provides a unique insight into war today.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Blomme, Mark E. “On Theory: War and Warfare Reconsidered.” The Army War College Review February (2015): 24.

Dulles, Allen. The Craft of Intelligence. New York: Harper & Row, 1963.

Johnston, Alastair I. Cultural Realism: Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy in Chinese History. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1995.

Kissinger, Henry. On China, New York: Penguin Press, 2011.

Mahnken, Thomas G. Secrecy and Stratagem: Understanding Chinese Strategic Culture. Double Bay NSW, Australia: Lowy Institute for International Policy, February 2011.

Tzu, Sun. The Art of War. Trans. Samuel Griffith. London: Oxford University Press, 1971.

Sawyer, Ralph D., and Mei-chün Sawyer. The Tao of Deception: Unorthodox Warfare in Historic and Modern China, New York: Basic Books, 2007.

Sawyer, Ralph D., and Mei-chün Sawyer. The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, Boulder, Colorado: Westview, 1993.

Snyder, Jack L. The Soviet Strategic Culture: Implications for Limited Nuclear Operations. Santa Monica, California: RAND Corporation, 1977. 

Von Clausewitz, Carl. On War. Ed. and trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1984.

Waldron, Arthur. “More Than Just Semantics.” Naval War College Review Autumn (1994): 113-114.


[1] Ralph Sawyer, The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China (Boulder, Colorado: Westview, 1993), 149. Return to Text.

[2] Sun Tzu, The Art of War, trans. Samuel Griffith, (London: Oxford University Press, 1971), 169. Return to Text.

[3] Arthur Waldron, “More Than Just Semantics,” Naval War College Review, (Autumn 1994), 113-114. Return to Text.

[4] Sawyer, The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, 150. Return to Text.

[7] Sawyer, The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, 150. Return to Text.

[8] Ralph Sawyer, The Tao of Deception (New York: Basic Books, 2007), 10. Return to Text.

[12] Henry Kissinger, On China (New York: Penguin Press, 2011), 30. Return to Text.

[13] Sawyer, The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, 154. Return to Text.

[15] Carl von Clausewitz, On War. Ed. and trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 89. Return to Text.

[24] Sawyer, The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, 155. Return to Text.

[27] Jack L. Snyder, The Soviet Strategic Culture: Implications for Limited Nuclear Operations (Santa Monica, California: RAND Corporation, 1977), 8. Return to Text.

[28] Alastair I. Johnston, Cultural Realism: Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy in Chinese History (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1995), 2. Return to Text.

[29] The concept of Strategic Culture is discussed in relation to Sun Tzu having recognized that the concept introduced Jack Snyder in 1977 was originally applied to Soviet nuclear policy. Scholars, such as Bradley Klein and Robin Luckman, have disputed causality of external perceptions of culture and military or diplomatic outcomes. A selection of sources from various scholars and critics of strategic culture are included in the bibliography. Return to Text.

[30] Though some controversy still perpetuates, Wu Qi is thought to be a descendant of Sun Tzu. Return to Text.

[31] Thomas G. Mahnken, Secrecy and Stratagem: Understanding Chinese Strategic Culture  (Double Bay NSW, Australia: Lowy Institute for International Policy, February 2011) , 3. Return to Text.

[36] Mark E. Blomme, “On Theory: War and Warfare Reconsidered” in The Army War College Review, (February: 2015), 24. Return to Text.

0 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *