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The Art of War - Appreciations of Sun Tzu

1. Introduction

2. The Text of Sun Tzu

3. The Commentators

4. Appreciations of Sun Tzu

5. Apologies for War

6. Bibliography

7. Footnotes

8. Chapter 1. Laying Plans

9. Chapter 2. Waging War

10. Chapter 3. Attack By Stratagem

11. Chapter 4. Tactical Disposition

12. Chapter 5. Energy

13. Chapter 6. Weak Points and Strong

14. Chapter 7. Manuevering

15. Chapter 8. Variations in Tactics

16. Chapter 9. The Army on the March

17. Chapter 10. Terrain

18. Chapter 11. The Nine Situations

19. Chapter 12. The Attack by Fire

20. Chapter 13. The Use of Spies

Appreciations of Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu has exercised a potent fascination over the minds of
some of China's greatest men. Among the famous generals who are
known to have studied his pages with enthusiasm may be mentioned
Han Hsin (d. 196 B.C.), [49] Feng I (d. 34 A.D.), [50] Lu Meng
(d. 219), [51] and Yo Fei (1103-1141). [52] The opinion of Ts`ao
Kung, who disputes with Han Hsin the highest place in Chinese
military annals, has already been recorded. [53] Still more
remarkable, in one way, is the testimony of purely literary men,
such as Su Hsun (the father of Su Tung-p`o), who wrote several
essays on military topics, all of which owe their chief
inspiration to Sun Tzu. The following short passage by him is
preserved in the YU HAI: [54] --

Sun Wu's saying, that in war one cannot make certain of
conquering, [55] is very different indeed from what other
books tell us. [56] Wu Ch`i was a man of the same stamp as
Sun Wu: they both wrote books on war, and they are linked
together in popular speech as "Sun and Wu." But Wu Ch`i's
remarks on war are less weighty, his rules are rougher and
more crudely stated, and there is not the same unity of plan
as in Sun Tzu's work, where the style is terse, but the
meaning fully brought out.

The following is an extract from the "Impartial Judgments in
the Garden of Literature" by Cheng Hou: --

Sun Tzu's 13 chapters are not only the staple and base
of all military men's training, but also compel the most
careful attention of scholars and men of letters. His
sayings are terse yet elegant, simple yet profound,
perspicuous and eminently practical. Such works as the LUN
YU, the I CHING and the great Commentary, [57] as well as the
writings of Mencius, Hsun K`uang and Yang Chu, all fall below
the level of Sun Tzu.

Chu Hsi, commenting on this, fully admits the first part of
the criticism, although he dislikes the audacious comparison with
the venerated classical works. Language of this sort, he says,
"encourages a ruler's bent towards unrelenting warfare and
reckless militarism."

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