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The Art of War is a Chinese military treatise that was written during the 6th century BC by Sun Tzu. Composed of 13 chapters, each of which is devoted to one aspect of warfare, it has long been praised as the definitive work on military strategies and tactics of its time. The Art of War is one of the oldest books on military strategy in the world. It is the first and one of the most successful works on strategy and has had a huge influence on Eastern and Western military thinking, business tactics, and beyond. Sun Tzu was the first to recognize the importance of positioning in strategy and that position is affected both by objective conditions in the physical environment and the subjective opinions of competitive actors in that environment. He taught that strategy was not planning in the sense of working through a to-do list, but rather that it requires quick and appropriate responses to changing conditions. Planning works in a controlled environment, but in a competitive environment,

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Having inward spies , making use of officials of the enemy. Having converted spies , getting hold of the enemy's spies and using them for our own purposes. Having doomed spies , doing certain things openly for purposes of deception, and allowing our own spies to know of them and report them to the enemy
(1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral Law? (2) Which of the two generals has most ability? (3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth? (4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? (5) Which army is stronger? (6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained? (7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?
It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the enemy's one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two. It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the enemy's one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two. If equally matched, we can offer battle; if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy; if quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him.
(1)  He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.    (2)  He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.    (3)  He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.    (4)  He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.    (5)  He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.
All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
“If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders are clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.”
He burns his boats and breaks his cooking-pots; like a shepherd driving a flock of sheep, he drives his men this way and that, and nothing knows whither he is going. To muster his host and bring
Thus the highest form of generalship is to baulk the enemy's plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy's forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy's army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.
Indirect tactics, efficiently applied, are inexhaustible as Heaven and Earth, unending as the flow of rivers and streams; like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew; like the four seasons, they pass away to return once more.
Again the girls assented. The words of command having been thus explained, he set up the halberds and battle-axes in order to begin the drill. Then, to the sound of drums, he gave the order “Right turn.” But the
(1) By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey. This is called hobbling the army. (2) By attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom, being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army. This causes restlessness in the
soldier's minds. (3) By employing the officers of his army without discrimination, through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances. This shakes the confidence of the soldiers.
All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
To lift an autumn hair is no sign of great strength; to see the sun and moon is no sign of sharp sight; to hear the noise of thunder is no sign of a quick ear. What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.
Indirect tactics, efficiently applied, are inexhaustible as Heaven and Earth, unending as the flow of rivers and streams; like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew; like the four seasons, they pass away to return once more. There are not more than five musical
There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard. There are not more than five primary colours, yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen. There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavours than can ever be tasted. In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack — the direct and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of
For should the enemy strengthen his van, he will weaken his rear; should he strengthen his rear, he will weaken his van; should he strengthen his left, he will weaken his right; should he strengthen his right, he will weaken his left. If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak.
Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting. Thus the highest form of generalship
Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards. So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak. Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in
clever general, therefore, avoids an army when its spirit is keen, but attacks it when it is sluggish and inclined to return. This is the art of studying moods. Disciplined and calm, to await the appearance of disorder and hubbub amongst the enemy: — this is the art of retaining self-possession. To be near the goal while the enemy is still far from it, to wait at ease while the enemy is toiling and struggling, to be well-fed while the enemy is famished: — this is the art of husbanding one's strength. To refrain from intercepting an enemy whose banners are in perfect order, to refrain from attacking an army drawn up in calm and confident array: — this is the art of studying circumstances.

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About

Publisher's Foreword
Introduction

About Sun Tzu:

Sun Tzu was a Chinese author of The Art of War, an immensely influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy. He is also one of the earliest realists in international relations theory. The name Sun Tzu ("Master Sun") is an honorific title bestowed upon Sun Wu, the author's name. The character wu, meaning "military", is the same as the character in wu shu, or martial art. Sun Wu also has a courtesy name, Chang Qing. Source: Wikipedia

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The publisher, Pax Librorum Publishing House, affirms the non-copyrighted public domain nature of the contents of this book but reserves copyright over the cover design of this electronic book, which may only be distributed as part of this digital edition as received by the reader.

 

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Publisher's Foreword

Lionel Giles' ground-breaking 1910 edition of Sun Tzu's ancient treatise on the Art of War was nothing short of a scholarly masterpiece.  It contains the original Chinese text, an accurate and fancy-free yet highly readable translation, extensive annotations by both ancient Chinese commentators and Giles himself, and a vast introduction to provide an in-depth historical perspective to it all.  Despite not having become the final word on Art of War translations, this now public domain text of a brilliant Orientalist remains an ideal yardstick against which other translations can be measured.

This edition aims to offer the reader the full Lionel Giles translation, sans the annotations, corrected of the many small errors and outright omissions present in most freely distributed digital copies of the work[1].  And instead of the lengthy and necessarily dry academic introduction of the original, our book begins with the fascinating ancient Chinese anecdote about Sun Tzu and the Emperor's concubines.

The publisher, Pax Librorum Publishing House, simultaneously offers an inexpensive paperback edition (ISBN-13: 978-0-9811626-3-8) as well as free digital copies on its website and elsewhere.  If you enjoy this free eBook, please consider showing your support by purchasing the paperback edition from Amazon.com or BN.com for a friend or a loved one.


The Publisher
www.PaxLibrorum.com


Introduction

Sun Tzu Wu was a native of the Ch`i State. His Art of War brought him to the notice of Ho Lu, King of Wu. Ho Lu said to him: “I have carefully perused your 13 chapters. May I submit your theory of managing soldiers to a slight test?”

Sun Tzu replied: “You may.”

Ho Lu asked: “May the test be applied to women?”

The answer was again in the affirmative, so arrangements were made to bring 180 ladies out of the Palace. Sun Tzu divided them into two companies, and placed one of the King's favourite concubines at the head of each. He then bade them all take spears in their hands, and addressed them thus: “I presume you know the difference between front and back, right hand and left hand?”

The girls replied: “Yes.”

Sun Tzu went on: “When I say ‘Eyes front,’ you must look straight ahead. When I say ‘Left turn,’ you must face towards your left hand. When I say ‘Right turn,’ you must face towards your right hand. When I say ‘About turn,’ you must face right round towards your back.”

Again the girls assented. The words of command having been thus explained, he set up the halberds and battle-axes in order to begin the drill. Then, to the sound of drums, he gave the order “Right turn.” But the girls only burst out laughing. Sun Tzu said: “If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, then the general is to blame.”

So he started drilling them again, and this time gave the order “Left turn,” whereupon the girls once more burst into fits of laughter. Sun Tzu: “If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders are clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.”

So saying, he ordered the leaders of the two companies to be beheaded. Now the King of Wu was watching the scene from the top of a raised pavilion; and when he saw that his favourite concubines were about to be executed, he was greatly alarmed and hurriedly sent down the following message: “We are now quite satisfied as to our general's ability to handle troops. If We are bereft of these two concubines, our meat and drink will lose their savour. It is our wish that they shall not be beheaded.”

Sun Tzu replied: “Having once received His Majesty's commission to be the general of his forces, there are certain commands of His Majesty which, acting in that capacity, I am unable to accept.”

Accordingly, he had the two leaders beheaded, and straightway installed the pair next in order as leaders in their place. When this had been done, the drum was sounded for the drill once more; and the girls went through all the evolutions, turning to the right or to the left, marching ahead or wheeling back, kneeling or standing, with perfect accuracy and precision, not venturing to utter a sound. Then Sun Tzu sent a messenger to the King saying: “Your soldiers, Sire, are now properly drilled and disciplined, and ready for your majesty's inspection. They can be put to any use that their sovereign may desire; bid them go through fire and water, and they will not disobey.”

But the King replied: “Let our general cease drilling and return to camp. As for us, We have no wish to come down and inspect the troops.”

Thereupon Sun Tzu said: “The King is only fond of words, and cannot translate them into deeds.”

After that, Ho Lu saw that Sun Tzu was one who knew how to handle an army, and finally appointed him general. In the west, he defeated the Ch`u State and forced his way into Ying, the capital; to the north he put fear into the States of Ch`i and Chin, and spread his fame abroad amongst the feudal princes. And Sun Tzu shared in the might of the King.


Ssu-ma Ch`ien (c. 145 BC – 86 BC)