Ancient China in Context
Arts of War:
The Classical Chinese Military Tradition
E Bruce Brooks and A Taeko Brooks

 

Cover: Arts of WarThe Sundz Art of War is one of the most popular of classical Chinese texts, studied by general staffs and scrutinized by war buffs around the world. To the many previous translations, this one adds a complete account of the Wudz, the other text which was already "classical" for Sywndz in the year 0250.

The Sundz is not a simple text, written by one person at one time. It represents the accumulated wisdom of the Chi military tradition over about half a century. It is merely confusing to read the early and elementary chapters as though they were saying the same thing as the late and sophisticated ones; to do so misses the way Chinese military thought evolved during its critical formation process, rethinking some early solutions to continuing problems, and adding new theory. In the Sundz, we have not only a manual of field tactics, but a case study in how the conscious art of warfare evolves. The present book makes it possible to follow the development of the art of warfare in this way, and thus to understand war itself more deeply.

The Sundz is the most famous of the Chinese military classics, but it is not the only one. From the middle 03c onwards, it is regularly bracketed with the second oldest of those writings, the Wu Chi or Wudz ("Master Wu"). This treatise was written in the state of Ngwei, Chi's great enemy. It goes beyond the Sundz at several points. It gives more space to the training of an army, and it also asks the question: What do you do after you have won the war? These are important additions to the range of the Sundz. To read the Sundz alone does little justice to Chinese military tradition; it is also not a procedure that is safe for a modern general, or general staff, to follow. The Sundz people recognized the threat to their theoretical supremacy posed by the new Wudz, and partly in response, they added the famous 13th chapter, on espionage, to their previous 12-chapter work.

These texts here translated entire. They are made further intelligible by extracts from the contemporary antiwar literature, including selections from the Mician guidelines for defensive war. To assist the modern reader in understanding the wide applicability of these classical maxims, comparisons with specific battles or strategic decisions, both ancient and modern (the American Civil War, the campaigns of Napoleon, both the Pacific and Atlantic phases of World War Two) have been included in the commentary for the first few chapters of the Sundz. This is material that is not normally taught to military leaders below the staff college level. It is here shared with all readers, both military and civilian.

Extracts from Arts of War:

This book can serve as an introduction to the Sundz and other classical Chinese military texts, and also as an elementary introduction to the art of war itself, for the citizens who make, or accept, the decisions about war and peace that guide modern nations. Chinese characters are included, so that the book may be used by students in a language curriculum as well as those whose primary interest is historical or philosophical..

The companion volume in this series, Waging Peace, gives a consecutive look at the antiwar tradition in classical China. For an overview of the classical period, which puts these and other developments in the context of state modernization, see The Emergence of China.

E Bruce Brooks

E BRUCE BROOKS is Research Professor of Chinese, and A TAEKO BROOKS is Research Associate, at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Arts of War: The Classical Chinese Military Tradition

Approximately 224 pages
Tentative $46.95 cloth. ISBN 978-1-936166-27-5
Tentative $23.95 paper. ISBN 978-1-936166-67-1
Tentative release date: September 2011

When announced, this book may be ordered from the University of Massachusetts Press

 

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