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The Art of War


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Compiled during the Warring States period of 475-221 B.C., The Art of War is the first known attempt to formulate a rational basis for the planning and conduct of military operations. Named the #1 translation of The Art of War by, this edition breaks new ground in resolving the textual and contextual problems of the text, along with complex issues of authorship. Victor H. Mair asserts that Sun Wu, a supposed strategist of the Spring and Autumn period (770-476 B.C.) to whom The Art of War is traditionally attributed, never existed. Instead, Mair claims the text coalesced over a period of years, from the middle of the fourth century to the first quarter of the third century B.C. Mair also reveals how The Art of War reflects historical developments in technological and military strategy in civilizations throughout Eurasia. He demonstrates the close link between philosophy in The Art of War and Taoism and discusses the reception of the text from the classical period to today. Finally, Mair highlights previously unaddressed stylistic and statistical aspects and includes philological annotations that present new ways of approaching the intellectual and social background of the work.

Table of Contents

Foreward by Arthur Waldron Preface Principles of Translation Guide to Pronunciation Key Terms List of Abbreviations Precis Introduction Chapter 1. Initial Assessments Chapter 2. Doing Battle Chapter 3. Planning for the Attack Chapter 4. Positioning Chapter 5. Configuration Chapter 6. Emptiness and Solidity Chapter 7. The Struggle of Armies Chapter 8. Nine Varieties Chapter 9. Marching the Army Chapter 10. Terrain Types Chapter 11. Nine Types of Terrain Chapter 12. Incendiary Attack Chapter 13. Using Spies Appendix. The Pseudo-Biography of Sun Wu Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author

Victor Mair is a graduate of Dartmouth College, the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, and Harvard University. He is professor of Chinese language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania and is the founder and editor of Sino-Platonic Papers, an academic journal that examines diverse aspects of Chinese language, script, and culture, paying particular attention to historical relationships with other societies in Eurasia. For the past two decades, he has led a major international investigation of the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age peoples of Eastern Central Asia, a project that has resulted in numerous publications and several films. His Columbia books include The Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature and The Columbia History of Chinese Literature.


Mair provides insight on how this manual came to exist. Indianapolis Star Lean, clear, all fustian removed. -- Donald Richie Japan Times Mair's excellent new translation of Sunzi's (Sun Tzu) Art of War... brings a new, and extremely useful perspective to the text. -- Peter Lorge Journal of Military History

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