The Art of War/The Book of Lord Shang, Paperback

The Art of War/The Book of Lord Shang Paperback

Part of the Wordsworth Classics of World Literature series

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Translated by Yuan Shibing and J.J.L.Duyvendak. With introductions by Robert Wilkinson. The two political classics in this book are the product of a time of intense turmoil in Chinese history.

Dating from the Period of the Warring States (403-221BC), they anticipate Machiavelli's The Prince by nearly 2000 years.

The Art of War is the best known of a considerable body of Chinese works on the subject.

It analyses the nature of war, and reveals how victory may be ensured.

The Book of Lord Shang is a political treatise for the instruction of rulers.

These texts are anything but armchair strategy or ivory-tower speculation.

They are serious, urgent and practical responses to the desperate situations in which they were written.

They have been immensely influential both inside and outside China.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Literary essays
  • ISBN: 9781853267796



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Now this is what I call a true classic! This book, as well as The Book of Lord Shang, preceded Machiavelli’s captivating masterpiece, Il Principe, by nearly 2000 years (I have to confess that I almost completely forget Il Principe’s contents, but I still remember that it was a captivating read).Back to Sun Tzu…Yes, some of his advices are already outdated and cannot be applied in the modern war. However, the others are, well, I should say mind-opening and inspirational, yet very simple.Want some examples? Here you go.“Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you’ll never be defeated. When you’re ignorant of the enemy but know yourself; your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are sure to be defeated in every battle.” If Hitler and General Tojo read this book, we’d all live in fascism now. If only Bush read this book, the war in Iraq will be over by now.Sun Tzu may taught us about war. But note this, he stressed that non-violent ways are better. This means employing effective politics, diplomacy and strategic considerations. He said: “To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence.” That’s my favorite quote.I also heart this one: “A sovereign cannot launch a war because he is enraged, not can a general fight a war because he is resentful. For while an angered man may again be happy, and a resentful man again be pleased, a state that perished cannot be restored, nor can the dead be brought to life.”That statement breaks me heart, really…. considering what happens in the world today.Highly, highly recommended. I’ll give this book a solid five stars.

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