Sun Tzu and The Art of War

Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu (sōōn dzōō), fl. c.500–320. BC, name used by the unknown Chinese authors of the sophisticated treatise on philosophy, logistics, espionage, and strategy and tactics known as The Art of War. It includes many commentaries by later Chinese philosophers. The core text was probably written by one person during a time of expanding feudal conflicts, but the exact century is uncertain. Most authorities now support a date early in the Warring States period (c.453–221 BC). This work has deeply influenced Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese military thinking and has enjoyed growing popularity among businessmen. It stresses the unpredictability of battle, the importance of deception and surprise, the close relationship between politics and military policy, and the high costs of war. The futility of seeking hard and fast rules and the subtle paradoxes of success are major themes. The best battle, Sun Tzu says, is the battle that is won without being fought. See guerrilla warfare.

See The Art of War (tr. by S. B. Griffith, 1971).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Art of War
Ralph D. Sawyer; Sun-Tzu.
Westview Press, 1994
Sun Tzu and the Art of Modern Warfare
Mark McNeilly.
Oxford University Press, 2003 (Expanded edition)
Strategic Logic and Political Rationality: Essays in Honor of Michael I. Handel
Brandford A.Lee; Karl F.Walling; Michael I. Handel.
Frank Cass, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Sunzi Bingfa as History and Theory"
The American War in Vietnam: Lessons, Legacies, and Implications for Future Conflicts
Lawrence E.Grinter; Peter M.Dunn.
Greenwood Press, 1987
Librarian’s tip: "Sun Tzu: Revolutionary War in the Asian Context" begins on p. 99
A History of Game Theory
Mary Ann Dimand; Robert W. Dimand.
Routledge, vol.1, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Sun Tzu and The Art of War begins on p. 104
The Tao of Spycraft: Intelligence Theory and Practice in Traditional China
Ralph D. Sawyer.
Westview Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Sun Tzu and The Art of War begins on p. 123
Strategic Leader Readiness and Competencies for Asymmetric Warfare
Williams, Thomas J.
Parameters, Vol. 33, No. 2, Summer 2003
Ancient Chinese Advice for Modern Business Strategists
Rarick, Charles A.
SAM Advanced Management Journal, Vol. 61, No. 1, Winter 1996
An Encyclopedia of War and Ethics
Donald A. Wells.
Greenwood Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Sun Tzu begins on p. 464
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