The Art lowest of War (Everyman's Library discount Classics Series) sale

The Art lowest of War (Everyman's Library discount Classics Series) sale

The Art lowest of War (Everyman's Library discount Classics Series) sale

Description

Product Description

The ancient Chinese military classic that is widely admired today by both military and business strategists--in a new translation, with new notes and commentary.

For more than two thousand years, The Art of War has provided leaders with essential tactical and management advice. An elemental part of Chinese culture, it has also become a touchstone in the West for achieving success, whether on the battlefield or in business. This Everyman''s Library edition features a brilliant new translation by Peter Harris. Alongside the pithy and powerful ancient text, Harris includes:
     --Extracts from the canon of traditional Chinese commentators who have explained Sun Tzu''s wisdom over the centuries
     --Notes
     --A bibliography
     --A chronology of Chinese dynasties
     --A map
     --An illuminating introduction on the warrior-philosopher Sun Tzu and the role of The Art of War in history and today

Review

“Like Thucydides, [Sun Tzu] has a reputation today at least as great as it was well over two millennia ago . . . Given the peculiarly personal acumen and insight that inform Sun Tzu’s brief, sometimes enigmatic, but always practical Art of War . . . we are surely reading the words of an acutely intelligent military man with a subtle, original mind and a wealth of experience all his own.”
—from the Introduction by Peter Harris

About the Author

SUN TZU was a Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher who lived in China in the 6th century BC. Sun Tzu is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War, a widely influential work of military strategy that has affected both Western and Eastern philosophy. Sun Tzu is revered in China as a legendary historical figure. His birth name was Sun Wu; the name Sun Tzu by which he is best known is an honorific that means "Master Sun."

PETER HARRIS is a specialist in the political and cultural history of China. He is the founding Director of the Asian Studies Institute at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand, and a Visiting Professor at Nanjing University, China. He has written, edited and translated numerous books on China and Asia. Other volumes he edited for Everyman''s Library include The Travels of Marco Polo, Zen Poems, and Three Hundred Tang Poems.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

from the INTRODUCTION by Peter Harris
 
A phrase often used to describe the dangers inherent in the rapidly changing relationship between the United States and China is the ‘Thucydides trap’. Even the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, has alluded to it, if only to express the hope that it can be avoided. The phrase is used to refer to Thucydides’ remark, when considering the origins of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta in the late fifth century BCE, that ‘what made the war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused in Sparta’ – Sparta being the United States in today’s world, of course, and Athens being China. (In fact the phrase ‘Thucydides trap’ is misleading for several reasons, not the least being that Thucydides never wrote about a trap as such.  But this is not the place to dwell on that.)
 
Thucydides’ remark about the inevitability of war between Athens and Sparta reflects his determinedly realist view of the world, with its steady focus on power and self-interest. The Athenian historian would have been surprised to learn that as he applied this realism to his History of the Peloponnesian War, another arch-realist halfway around the world had been making his mark (or would soon be doing so, depending on which dates for his life we accept) with his own penetrating discussion of interstate rivalry and power. This was the Chinese general Sun Tzu, or Master Sun.
 
Sun Tzu (or Sun Zi, if written with the romanisation now used in mainland China, zi meaning ‘master’) was a military man and a strategist, rather than a military historian. But he shared Thucydides’ sense of realpolitik, built in his case on an acute appreciation of the uses of deception in the pursuit of military success. And like Thucydides, he has a reputation today at least as great as it was well over two millennia ago.
 
We know a certain amount about Thucydides from what he tells us about himself in his History. About Sun Tzu we know almost nothing. Indeed, some people doubt whether he even existed, arguing that his writings may have been no more than an amalgam of old military saws. Given the peculiarly personal acumen and insight that informs Sun Tzu’s brief, sometimes enigmatic, but always practical Art of War, this is not a point of view that it is easy to come to terms with. As we read Sun Tzu we tell ourselves that we are surely reading the words of an acutely intelligent military man with a subtle, original mind and a wealth of experience all his own.
 
This is certainly the attitude adopted towards Sun Tzu by many of his admirers. To take just one recent example, the respected writer on political affairs Martin van Creveld has no qualms about treating Sun Tzu as a historical figure. In his 2017 book More on War, Van Creveld calls Sun Tzu one of two giants among military theoreticians, the other being the early nineteenth-century Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz. He describes both men as ‘standing head and shoulders above the rest’ – a suitably solid metaphor for someone assumed to be a real figure from the past.
 
The view that Sun Tzu really was a living person dates back to the first substantial source of information we have about him, his biography in the Records of the Grand Historian. These Records were a wide-ranging history of ancient China written early in the first century BCE by two men often described as the founding fathers of Chinese history, Sima Tan and more especially his son Sima Qian, who completed the work after his father died. Sima Qian was a careful though sometimes uncritical record-keeper, known for his utter dedication to his great work – after offending the emperor, he chose to stay alive by suffering the humiliating punishment of castration so that he could complete it. There is no particular reason to think that he doubted Sun Tzu’s existence, or the fact that – as he writes in the Records – Sun Tzu was a military adviser to King Helu¨ of the state of Wu, who reigned from 514 until his death in 496 BCE. (Sun Tzu himself has traditionally
been thought of as having been born in 544, and having died in the same year as King Helu¨ , 496.)
 
All the same, as many have pointed out, Sima Qian’s biography of Sun Tzu is disappointingly thin, and far from satisfactory as a historical source. Here is the text of the biography, in which we learn Sun Tzu’s full name, Sun Wu:
 
Master Sun Wu was a man of Qi state. He showed his Art of War to King Helu¨ of Wu state, who said, ‘I have read all thirteen chapters of your work. Can we have a little trial run at drilling troops?’ ‘We can,’ Sun Tzu replied. ‘Can it be done with women?’ the king asked. ‘It can,’ said Sun Tzu.
 
So the king had a hundred and eighty beauties come out from the palace. Sun Tzu divided them into two companies, put two of the king’s favourites in charge of them, and ordered them all to take up halberds. ‘Do you all know your front, back, left and right?’ he asked them. The women replied, ‘We do.’ ‘When I say ‘‘front,’’ ’ he went on, ‘go forward. When I say ‘‘left’’, go left. When I say ‘‘right’’, go right. When I say ‘‘back’’, go back.’ The women agreed to do so. Having issued these instructions, he set out hatchets and battle-axes and repeated his orders several times.
 
But then when he drummed the command ‘right’ the women broke out in laughter.
 
‘If instructions are unclear or orders are not properly understood,’ Sun Tzu said, ‘it is the fault of the general.’
 
He then repeated his orders several more times, and drummed the command ‘left’. The women again broke out laughing.
 
‘If instructions are unclear or orders are not properly understood,’ said Sun Tzu, ‘it is the general’s fault. If they are clear but not obeyed, it is the fault of the officers.’
 
He then made to behead the women in charge of the two companies. The king was watching this from a terrace, and when he saw that his two favourites were going to be executed he was greatly alarmed. He hastily sent a messenger down to say, ‘General, I know now that you are capable of deploying troops. If I lose these two young ladies I will quite lose my taste for food. Kindly refrain from beheading them.’
 
But Sun Tzu replied, ‘I have received the command from Your Majesty to be his general. When a general is with his army, he does not always follow his ruler’s commands.’
 
He then executed the two women in charge of the companies as an example to the others, and appointed the next in line to replace them. When he again drummed his commands, the women all followed the rules exactly, going left, right, forward and back, kneeling and standing up, not daring to make a sound.
 
Then Sun Tzu sent a messenger to the king to tell him, ‘The troops are now in good order. I suggest Your Majesty comes down and see them. Come fire or water you will be able to deploy them in whatever way you want.’
 
The King of Wu’s response was, ‘You may take a rest, general, and go to your quarters. I do not wish to come down to see them.’
 
Sun Tzu replied, ‘Your Majesty just likes talking, rather than being someone able to do things.’
 
At that point the king understood Sun Tzu’s ability in deploying troops. He ended up making him a general. In the west he destroyed Chu, entering its capital Ying; to the north he overawed Qi and Jin states, and became renowned among the various rulers. The power he gained from all this Sun Tzu shared.
 
Another version of this biography was among the writings on bamboo strips unearthed from tombs on Silver Sparrow Mountain (Yinqueshan) in Shandong province in 1972 – a find I will come back to later. This bamboo strips version, earlier by decades than the version recorded by Sima Qian, is incomplete; but what
is left of it suggests a fuller and slightly more plausible story than the one related by the Grand Historian. In the bamboo strips version the King of Wu starts by describing himself as having a dilettante interest in warfare, which Sun Tzu decries, emphasising the importance of warfare as a means of securing gains. When it comes to showing the king how to drill troops, Sun Tzu agrees only reluctantly to drill court ladies rather than noblemen or others, and appoints as field officers – and later, it seems, executes – two of his own men, rather than two of the king’s female favourites. And towards the end there is a sketchy reference to the king studying with Sun Tzu for six days before he understands what the Way of warfare really means.
 
Even with these embellishments, however, the two versions of Sun Tzu’s biography tell us next to nothing about the man or his life. Nor do we learn much about his strategic thinking or his views on generalship. We gather only that he believed in strict discipline, and in the vital importance of a general having full control over his affairs once he was in the field. These are both points made in The Art of War, though in a far more nuanced way. Discipline, in particular, is portrayed in The Art of War as the counterpart of the care,  consideration and consistency with which the rank and file have to be treated if they are to give of their best. Other than that, we are left puzzled as to whether the biography has any point at all. As for the drilling of concubines, that just seems to be a piece of gratuitous whimsy.
 
It is not surprising, then, that many scholars and commentators have dismissed the biography as being without value. And I am not just referring to people in modern times. The no-nonsense scholar and philosopher Yan Shi, writing in southeast China in the thirteenth century CE, described Sima’s account of Sun Tzu as no more than a fiction arising from scholarly debates, and the story of the women being drilled and disciplined as
‘bizarre and incredible’.
 
Before moving on from the biography, we should note that there is another way to look at it, as the Danish scholar Jens Petersen has persuasively argued. Immediately preceding the biography of Sun Tzu in The Records is the biography of another early general, Sima Rangju, who is also depicted as handing down harsh punishments for apparently trivial offences. General Sima Rangju has one arrogant senior officer executed for arriving late for a meeting, and threatens another with execution for riding too fast through his military camp. Again, the story of Sima Rangju contains scant information about him as a man. Petersen suggests that the intention in both cases may well have been to demonstrate the generals’ methods, rather than to provide real life individual histories. According to this view, stories like these (not uncommon in early Chinese literature) are used to illustrate particular points or ‘morals’ of the kind Victorian children’s tales end with. The moral of the two generals’ biographies is presumably that military authority derives from exemplary punishment, even of privileged people.
 
Having cast doubt on the value of Sima Qian’s biography, we are left searching for other sources of reliable information about Sun Tzu. There is not much to be found. He is mentioned a few other times in Sima Qian’s Records, but despite the comprehensive nature of this work these other references are even thinner than the biography. Interestingly, they connect him with another early military figure called Wu Zixu, who in contrast to Sun Tzu seems more likely to have been a real-life figure. According to Sima Qian, Wu Zixu was, like Sun Tzu, a military strategist on the staff of King Helu¨ of Wu. These two men, Sun Tzu and Wu Zixu, pooled their strategic insights to advise King Helu¨ , enabling him to crush his rival the state of Chu, which he did in 506 BCE, and to strengthen his rule more generally.
 
One intriguing thing about Wu Zixu is that he was a refugee from another state – in fact from Chu, the same state he helped King Helu¨ crush. It is intriguing because well over a thousand years later, in the official New Tang History completed in 1060 CE, Sun Tzu himself is described as a refugee, a fugitive from his home state of Qi. (It is not at all clear why it took a thousand years for this piece of information or hearsay to come to light. Perhaps it had been included earlier in other historical materials since lost to us.) In a novel line of thought, Jens Petersen argues that this common attribute of the two men, Sun Tzu and Wu Zixu, suggests that Sun Tzu the refugee may have been no more than a double created out of nothing, a kind of doppelga¨nger or
shadow of the refugee Wu Zixu, one that became potent enough over time to figure in illustrative stories. Even Sun Tzu’s name may be illusory, since one meaning of the word used for his family name, sun, is ‘fugitive’, while wu means ‘warrior’, so that like some of the fancifully-named characters in other early Chinese
fables, Sun Tzu may be no more than a fabulous Fugitive Warrior.
 
Scepticism about Sun Tzu’s existence would be easier to rebut if he were to feature significantly in other early sources, apart from Sima Qian’s Records. But up until now – pending further tomb excavations or other unexpected discoveries – this has not been the case. He is, it is true, mentioned in several texts dating back to the third century BCE, but only briefly. For example Han Fei Zi, the foundational text of the brutally authoritarian Legalist school of thought, remarks that at the time it was written everyone was talking about warfare, with many families having copies of the works of Sun Tzu and another famous strategist called Wu
Qi. Xun Zi, a book about the Confucian philosopher of that name, makes a passing reference to Sun Tzu, as does Huainan Zi, a set of essays collected around 139 BCE. And the bamboo strips unearthed from Silver Sparrow Mountain include an account of a conversation between Sun Tzu and a king of Wu, presumably Sun Tzu’s patron Helu¨ , about the proper division and taxation of land. But that seems to be all that is left to us.

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Top reviews from the United States

Robert W. Moore
5.0 out of 5 starsVine Customer Review of Free Product
Probably the best edition of Sun Tzu available in English - Highly Recommended
Reviewed in the United States on April 9, 2018
This is a great edition of a classic work. Sun Tzu is read by a lot of different people for a lot of different reasons. I frankly detest the idea of reading this for the purposes of excelling in interoffice politics or as a means of defeating your business competition. It... See more
This is a great edition of a classic work. Sun Tzu is read by a lot of different people for a lot of different reasons. I frankly detest the idea of reading this for the purposes of excelling in interoffice politics or as a means of defeating your business competition. It is a military manual and ideally will be read as a way of understanding ancient Chinese military strategy. It is a wonderful guide for understanding the nature of warfare and for how modern combat resembles or differs from the combat of two millennia ago. Regardless of one''s motives for reading this, it is a fascinating work and Sun Tzu an equally fascinating writer. He means to lay out practical rules that will assist you - assuming that you are the leader of an army - in formulating sound strategy and in avoiding unforced errors. He writes about, for instance, the nine different kinds of campaigns and the different approaches demanded by each. On light terrain, for instance, you should travel quickly, but on rough terrain, you should engage in plunder. Why? Well, the great virtue of light terrain - i.e., terrain that it is easy to travel on - is the ease of travel. Therefore, move quickly while you can. Difficult terrain will keep you from traveling quickly; you therefore should scramble for all of the food and necessities that you can find, because you are not going to make good time and you could easily run out of food. Most of the book consists of pithy little reflections like that. Most are intensely commonsensical, even if they are not something you would instantly grasp.

The book, as with all Everyman''s Classics, features great front matter. As with all such books, you get a list of recommended reading materials and a Chronology. You also get a list of ancient Chinese dynasties. There is an introduction by the book''s translator and a foreword by US General David H. Petraeus, whose name will be familiar to anyone who has followed the news the past decade. The Eleven Traditional Commentaries is included at the back and there are a number of notes by the translator to ease the understanding of the text. All in all, this is one of the best editions of the work that I have seen, equaled only by the Oxford University Press edition, which previously was the sole first rate non-business edition.

This edition is part of a somewhat new tradition on the part of Everyman''s Library. For a long time Everyman''s primarily reprinted translations that were either in the public domain or whose copyright was held by Random House. This meant that most translations came from the nineteenth century. More recently, however, Everyman''s has been doing original translations with all original front matter and back matter. As a result, their volumes have begun to take on a degree of scholarly relevance that they didn''t previously possess. This tremendously enhances the value of a line of publications that has already been among my favorites. Let me put it bluntly: if Everyman''s publishes an edition of a book, that is almost always the edition I would prefer to read. For example, while there are annotated editions of Jane Austen that I prefer to read if I''m trying to glean every possible bit of meaning from the text, if I just want to enjoy PRIDE AND PREJUDICE as a narrative, as a text, then you can''t beat Everyman''s Library. There is definitely no series of books that are more pleasant to read. The paper is gorgeous: a rich, heavy stock paper that is yellow and does not reflect light, which makes reading easy on the eye. And I love the cloth used to wrap each cover, pale olive green in this case, with a lovely dustjacket with a representation of Sun Tzu on the front. Just very close to the perfect book. I also own a lot of Library of America volumes and I never like reading those volumes like I enjoy reading an Everyman''s Library.

In short, there are, in my opinion two editions of Sun Tzu worth owning, this one and the edition by Oxford. But I think that this one might get the nod, given that it is more recent, more attractive, and better produced.
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scott stanley
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Real deal
Reviewed in the United States on July 8, 2019
Took forever to get delivered (something like 3 or 4 months), but definitely worth it. This is the real deal. There are a lot of knock offs or abbreviated versions out there and this isn''t one of them. This is just what I wanted.
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sojourner
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Timeless and inspirational
Reviewed in the United States on January 24, 2019
May seem to be about death and destruction to some. To me, I regard it in a business perspective as a shortcut to success. It was suggested reading by my professor.
9 people found this helpful
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Thurston Renner-thomas
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Must read
Reviewed in the United States on October 3, 2019
Fantastic read!
This book is written with a viewpoint of battle tactics,but these are some of the same principles one can apply to any type of tactical thinking. Love it
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Olga Z
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great
Reviewed in the United States on April 15, 2019
I was very excited to receive this book. It arrived in a great condition and promptly. I just love its hard cover. Started reading today and so far it’s very interesting.
7 people found this helpful
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Rubricon
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Not what I was expecting
Reviewed in the United States on April 9, 2021
I expected this electronic book to be authored by Peter Harris. The descriptions included excerpts from Harris. The description of the hard cover copy included a preface by general Petraeus which I was looking forward to reading. When I opened the ebook I found nothing by... See more
I expected this electronic book to be authored by Peter Harris. The descriptions included excerpts from Harris. The description of the hard cover copy included a preface by general Petraeus which I was looking forward to reading. When I opened the ebook I found nothing by Harris or Petraeus. Some other author was given as the translator. I promptly returned the book. Maybe the link from the hard cover copy to the ebook was incorrect?
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Drew tuTWENTY
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Real copy unlike the 10 page fakes
Reviewed in the United States on January 31, 2019
I’ve read this book a few times this copy seems to be the real one unlike the fake ones out there mall over the place. But I was unable to receive the item due to a mixup with my shipping location for the holiday I’m hoping soon to be able to order it again.
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Randy S.
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great Item- Terrible Shipping time
Reviewed in the United States on July 6, 2019
OK
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Top reviews from other countries

Joseph Ricketts
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 18, 2018
excellent!!
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Pratyush Singh
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Not rating it 5 stars, because Amazon lied to me
Reviewed in India on July 23, 2021
It said that this book is 140 pages, but in reality it is 44 pages only. Much thinner than I expected. Keeping that aside, this is a must read for anyone who''d like to use war-like strategies in real life. This does give an upper hand in business, politics or just any...See more
It said that this book is 140 pages, but in reality it is 44 pages only. Much thinner than I expected. Keeping that aside, this is a must read for anyone who''d like to use war-like strategies in real life. This does give an upper hand in business, politics or just any work-life. Most importantly, if Donald Trump considers this his favorite book, then that makes us curious to at least give it a try. Plus this is a skinny book anyway, so what''s the harm.
4 people found this helpful
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Pinkoo
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Abridged version
Reviewed in India on September 1, 2021
This is a shorter version of the actual book. It has bullet points only 40 pages and not 140 as mentioned here. Would request Amazon to rectify the details here. Not at all a worth buy and I returned it. Look for other versions if you are interested to read this book.
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preety
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Just 44 pages!!
Reviewed in India on April 9, 2021
Its paperback edition just has 44 pages. Its too slim. The description said 140 pages which is wrong. I returned it.
4 people found this helpful
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D. Smith
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Not what I was expecting
Reviewed in Canada on June 5, 2018
I have to say I am more than a little disappointed in the organization of this volume of the Art of War. I was expecting an annotated version of the book, however, this has the full text in the front and then commentary on the text in the second half. The second half does...See more
I have to say I am more than a little disappointed in the organization of this volume of the Art of War. I was expecting an annotated version of the book, however, this has the full text in the front and then commentary on the text in the second half. The second half does have the text but it is broken out by paragraphs followed by commentary. It is interesting but it seems to me it could have been done better. Not the presentation I was expecting by a title in the Everyman Library.
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