A classic of both military strategy and Eastern philosophy from the fourth century B. C.E.
Sun Bin's Art of Warfare is an essential text of Chinese military philosophy and of strategy in general. This book, lost for over two thousand years and rediscovered only in 1972, has not yet reached the prominence of Sunzi's (Sun-tzu) The Art of Warfare, which is the best-known military treatise in the world. Sun Bin's work is an indispensable companion to the work of Sunzi, who is believed to be his ancestor, but deserves to be better known in its own right, both philosophically and historically. Here, noted sinologists D. C. Lau and Roger T. Ames offer an admirably lucid translation, and provide an introduction examining the life, times, and original philosophical contributions of Sun Bin.
Sun Bin, advisor to King Wei of the state of Qi, worked and wrote during the mid-fourth century B. C.E. during China's Warring States period. It was a time of unprecedented violence; without a central national authority, nation-states fought fiercely amongst one another. New technologies made fighting more deadly, so that between the mid-fourth and mid-third centuries B. C.E. , the number of battlefield casualties increased tenfold. Sun Bin's work is the key to understanding the physical and intellectual revolution that made such "progress" in the efficiency of warfare possible.
The Art of Warfare shows Sun Bin as both practical tactician and philosopher. He discusses war and rulership not only as philosophical concepts, but also as practical matters, evidenced by his battle-tested techniques. This is a fascinating book both for its reflection on its own time and for its reflection on power, conflict, and leadership for all times.
D. C. Lau is Professor Emeritus at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He has translated such Chinese classics as Mencius and Confucius: The Analects. Roger T. Ames is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hawaii. He is the author and editor of many books, including Sun-tzu: The Art of Warfare and, from SUNY Press (with David L. Hall), Thinking from the Han: Self, Truth, and Transcendence in Chinese and Western Culture.
"For one who has really mastered the way of warfare, his enemy can do nothing to escape death. " — Sun Bin