Selected Works

History
Charts the nature and evolution of warfare in ancient China.
A tour de force on ancient Chinese ‘spycraft’
Translations
The theoretical chapters from the innovative T'ang dynasty military manual.
"The most accurate, conscise, and usable English language translation available"
The crux itself with contemporary implications.
"A remarkable text from the widdle Warring States period"
"Should be in every library"
"Should be read by anyone interested in Chinese military thought"
A categorical compilation of early Chinese martial wisdom.
"Best of all translations I have seen of Chinese military philosophy"
The martial Tao Te Ching
The most popular Chinese oracle

The Tao of Deception: Unorthodox Warfare in Historic and Modern China

   First articulated by Sun-tzu in the Art of War, the concept of unorthodox warfare grounded Chinese theorizing on military activities for more than two millennia. Being defined against the orthodox and expected, the unorthodox can not be reduced to mere trickery or simplistic posturing, but rather constitutes the very essence of knowledge based, maneuver warfare. Unorthodox actions are designed to create and facilitate localized tactical imbalances, the requisite condition for exploiting overwhelming strategic power and thereby achieving a stunning, apparently easy victory.

   While its implementation stresses special operations and manipulating the enemy, the concept of the unorthodox encompasses elements currently identified with asymmetrical warfare but in a more esoteric, often almost metaphysical conception due to Sun-tzu’s well known original formulation: “In warfare, the strategic configurations of power do not exceed the unorthodox and orthodox, but the changes of the unorthodox and orthodox can never be completely exhausted. The unorthodox and orthodox mutually produce each other, just like an endless cycle. Who can exhaust them ?”

   Numerous pivotal historical battles in which desperate forces overcame immense odds by relying upon craft, cunning, and knowledge and thereby came to define the nature of unorthodox techniques are included. Collated in the military compendia, they invariably furnished a library of examples and methodology for later commanders.

   "The Tao of Deception is a striking success and the first book to link ancient Chinese texts to current Chinese military planning. It has long been suspected that Chinese leaders today draw many specific lessons from their ancient classics. Ralph Sawyer, after a lifetime of translating classic Chinese military texts, has made a dramatic breakthrough to help us all understand the sources of potential Chinese calculations -- and miscalculations." Michael Pillsbury