Finally available in paperback, Ralph D. Sawyer's incomparable study of ancient Chinese warfare.
One of the most profound studies of warfare ever written, The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China presents us with an Eastern tradition of strategic thought that emphasizes outwitting one's opponent through speed, stealth, flexibility, and a minimum of force - an approach very different from that stressed in the West, where the advantages of brute strength have overshadowed more subtle methods.
Safeguarded for centuries by the ruling elites of imperial China, even in modern times, these writings have been known to only a handful of Western specialists. In this volume are seven separate essays, written between 500 B.C. and A.D. 700, that preserve the essential tenets of strategy distilled from the experience of the most brilliant warriors of ancient China. This accurate translation remedies a serious gap in Western knowledge of Asian thought. Based on the best available classical Chinese manuscripts, some only recently discovered by archaeologists, The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China is a uniquely important contribution to the world's military literature and is essential reading for anyone interested in China's rich cultural heritage or in the timeless principles of successful warfare strategy.
"Military thought was never a popular subject in ancient China - partly because of Confucianism's distaste for the soldier's craft, partly because of the enduring concern of central governments with maintaining a monopoly on effective violence. Nevertheless, between 500 BCE and 700 ACE a number of significant treatises on warfare emerged, the most familiar being Sun Tzu's Art of War; the others have remained obscure even to specialists. Sawyer's brilliantly edited translation makes the entire body of work generally available in English. These writings reinforce the traditional image of a Chinese way of war emphasizing speed and cunning rather than brute force. They also establish the military's importance in governing China: the virtuous ruler demonstrated his virtue by succeeding in war, which depended on understanding war's nature. Recommended for all public and private collections of military history." (D. E. Showalter, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, in Library Journal)
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