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Sun Tzu and The Art of War

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Chinese military adviser Sun Tzu from the 6th century BC and the influential work of military strategy associated with him, The Art of War.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas attributed to Sun Tzu (544-496BC, according to tradition), a legendary figure from the beginning of the Iron Age in China, around the time of Confucius. He may have been the historical figure Sun Wu, a military adviser at the court of King Helu of Wu (who reigned between about 514 and 496 BC), one of the kings in power in the Warring States period of Chinese history (6th - 5th century BC). Sun Tzu was credited as the author of The Art of War, a work on military strategy that soon became influential in China and then Japan both for its guidance on conducting and avoiding war and for its approach to strategy generally. After The Art of War was translated into European languages in C18th, its influence spread to military academies around the world.

The image above is of a terracotta warrior from the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor, who unified China after the Warring States period.

With

Hilde De Weerdt
Professor of Chinese History at Leiden University

Tim Barrett
Professor Emeritus of East Asian History at SOAS, University of London

And

Imre Galambos
Reader in Chinese Studies at the University of Cambridge

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

43 minutes

LINKS AND FURTHER READING

Hilde De Weerdt at Leiden University

Tim Barrett at SOAS, University of London

Imre Galambos at the University of Cambridge

Sun Tzu (trans. Lionel Giles), Sun Tzu on the Art of War: The Oldest Military Treatise in the World

‘Soldierly Methods: Vade Mecum for an Iconoclastic Translation of Sun Zi bingfa’ by Victor H. Mair, with a complete transcription and word-for-word glosses of the Manchu translation by H. T. Toh - Sino-Platonic Papers (2008)

Sun Tzu – Wikipedia

 

READING LIST:

Nicola Di Cosmo (Ed.), Military Culture in Imperial China (Harvard University Press, 2009)

Hildegard Diemberger, Karl Ehrhard and Peter F. Kornicki (eds.), Tibetan Printing: Comparison, Continuities, and Change (Brill, 2016), especially ‘Manuscript and print in the Tangut state: The case of the Sunzi’ by Imre Galambos

Li Feng, Early China: A Social and Cultural History (Cambridge University Press, 2013)

Alastair Iain Johnston, Cultural Realism: Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy in Chinese History (Princeton University Press, 1995)

D. C.  Lau and Roger T. Ames, Sun Bin: The Art of Warfare: A Translation of the Classic Chinese Work of Philosophy and Strategy (State University of New York Press, 2003)

Mark Edward Lewis, Sanctioned Violence in Early China (State University of New York Press, 1990)

Michael Loewe (ed.), Early Chinese Texts:  A Bibliographical Guide (Society for the Study of Early China and the Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, 1993)

Ralph D. Sawyer, The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China including The Art of War (Basic Books, 1993)

Sun-tzu (trans. Roger Ames), Sun-tzu: The Art of Warfare: The First English Translation Incorporating the Recently Discovered Yin-ch’ueh-shan Texts (Ballantine Books, 1993)

Sun Tzu (trans. Lionel Giles), Sun Tzu on the Art of War: The Oldest Military Treatise in the World (first published 1910; CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012)

Sun-tzu (trans. John Minford), The Art of War (Viking Press, 2002)

 

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Hilde de Weerdt
Interviewed Guest Tim Barrett
Interviewed Guest Imre Galambos
Producer Simon Tillotson

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