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Tao of Spycraft

   Traditional records depict spycraft as playing a pivotal role and being widely practiced in China from its earliest dynasties, embodied by such figures as Yi Yin and the T’ai Kung. Sun-tzu penned his famous chapter on clandestine agents -- the first dedicated work on spycraft -- at the end of the Spring and Autumn period, an era when state survival depended upon gaining secret information and disrupting enemy plans through disinformation, bribery, women, pleasure, sex, and even assassination. Thereafter techniques multiplied and agents proliferated until the Ch’in subjugated its remaining enemies through force of arms and subversive measures systematically executed by clandestine agents dispatched throughout the realm.

   The art and theory of intelligence gathering rapidly evolved during the imperial period, with many of the military writers devoting well documented sections to spycraft even as abstruse conjecture dedicated to issues of nebulosity and formlessness burgeoned. The Tao of Spycraft traces the development of these theories and activities, and also includes a major section on the somewhat esoteric but crucial practice of evaluating or “knowing men.” Many of the techniques discussed continue to be systematically studied even today in the quest for effective methods and approaches of utility.

   "A welcome addition to intelligence libraries everywhere. The Sawyers have collaborated on the daunting task of scanning China’s military classics and its twenty-five dynastic histories to produce the first thorough discussion of the theory and practice of Chinese intelligence operations." Journal of Military History

   "A tour-de-force on ancient Chinese ‘spycraft’ that is culled and selected by the author from the vast storehouse of Chinese literature. In this case ‘spycraft’ is broadly defined to mean the various categories of espionage from strategic intelligence, simple battlefield intelligence pertaining to enemy strength and disposition, as well as terrain analysis, to clandestine and covert political and psychological operations, including assassinations. The Tao of Spycraft merits high marks for its comprehensive scholarship . . . ." War in History