Primary Source Analysis- Sun Tzu's the Art of War

Topics: The Art of War, China, Korean War Pages: 4 (1227 words) Published: November 6, 2012
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Primary Source Analysis- The Art of War|
Dr. Chiasson, HI224|
Kavinaath Sriskandarajah|
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The Art of War was published by a Chinese military general named Sun Tzu during the Warring States period between 403-221 BCE. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War has been translated and published in English multiple times in the 20th century; the most notable translations were published in 1910 by Lionel Giles and in 1971 by Samuel B. Griffith. Giles’ original translation of The Art of War serves as this paper’s reference point due to the fact that Griffith’s rendition only adds insightful commentary and minor revisions regarding the choice of words used in Giles’ work. This paper will briefly discuss The Art of War’s significance regarding the meanings and effects that the document intends to invoke in its readers. Additionally, there will be a succinct discussion suggesting that modern Chinese military doctrine, within the specific context of Mao Zedong’s People's War doctrine, is largely inspired by ideals presented in Sun Tzu’s Art of War The Art of War is a military text composed of multiple sections that discuss military tactics without restricting them to specific situations. This allows for individuals, such as Mao Zedong, to create their own military doctrines based upon The Art of War’s teaching. In a 1968 interview, Mao Zedong admitted to having read Sun Tzu's The Art of War before writing his own works on military tactics from 1936 to 1938. Sun Tzu’s diction indicates a serious tone as shown by The Art of War’s succinct sentences that emphasize decisive action. Sentences such as “There is no instance of a country having benefitted from prolonged warfare” and “In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns” candidly highlight the importance of thorough military planning and sharp execution. According to D.C. Lau, a prominent sinologist from the University of Hong Kong, The Tao Te Ching written by Lao Tzu, during the...


Bibliography: Giles, Lionel. The Art of War by Sun Tzu Pax Libbrorum Publishing House, 2009.
Jencks, Harlan
Junbo, Zhang and Yao Yunzhu. "Differences between Traditional Chinese and Western Military Thinking and their Philosophical Roots." Journal of Contemporary China 5, no. 12 (1996)
Loewe, Michael and Edward Shaughnessy
Mair, Victor. Tao Te Ching Lao by Lao Tzu. New York City: Bantam, 1990.
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[ 1 ]. Zhang Jhunbo and Yao Yunzhu. "Differences between Traditional Chinese and Western Military Thinking and their Philosophical Roots." Journal of Contemporary China 5, no. 12 (1996), pg 213
[ 2 ]
[ 3 ]. Lionel Giles. The Art of War by Sun Tzu Pax Libbrorum Publishing House, 2009, pg 3
[ 4 ]
[ 7 ]. Lionel Giles. The Art of War by Sun Tzu Pax Libbrorum Publishing House, 2009, the Art of War
[ 8 ]
[ 9 ]. Lionel Giles. The Art of War by Sun Tzu Pax Libbrorum Publishing House, 2009, pg 1-2
[ 10 ]
[ 11 ]. Michael Lowe and Edward Shaughnessy. The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 BC. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 1999, pg 616
[ 12 ]
[ 13 ]. Harlan Jencks. ""People 's War Under Modern Conditions": Wishful Thinking, National Suicide, Or Effective Deterrent?" The China Quarterly no. 98 (1984), pg 312
[ 14 ]
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