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

One Hundred Unorthodox Strategies: Battle and Tactics of Chinese Warfare

   The corpus of military writings grew enormously as the centuries passed and warfare evolved. Although the Art of War provided the initial impetus and conceptualizations, subsequent writings expanded, refined, and sometimes even reversed Art of War's concepts and tactics, often within the purview of Sun-tzu’s own vision of efficient, knowledge based maneuver warfare. In the late Sung dynasty, after extensively pondering both historical battlefield experience and previous military science, an anonymous military thinker identified one hundred, often paired basic principles (such as fast /​ slow) and other important factors and concepts (including configuration of terrain, spies, and strategic power) and then correlated them with one hundred battles that illustate their applicability.

   The Pai-chan Ch’i-lueh quickly became a widely recognized text and critical sections were incorporated virtually intact by subsequent military compendia. It not only continues to furnish the best single volume introduction to the theory and practice of Chinese warfare, but also enjoys immensely popularity in the PRC where it appears in numerous contemporary formats (including comic book editions)that explore the text and its applicability in all realms of life and is actively pondered in military think tanks as part of the quest to formulate military science with unique Chinese characteristics.

   For the reader's convenience brief contextual commentaries have been appended to each of the readily comprehended, four page chapters, obviating the need for conventional footnotes. A tactical index has also been supplied to facilitate individual study of the various concepts and tactical principles, whether purely as a matter of military interest or for adaptation and implementation in business, human relations, and life in general.

   "Unorthodox Strategies presents an insightful, easy to read translation . . . Each of the book’s 100 short sections considers a different strategic or tactical concept, includes a historical illustration from the original, and contains Sawyer’s thought provoking commentary. Much like a modern military “book of days,” it can be taken as a whole or read at random with equal coherence and utility. Sawyer’s commentary, written in language understandable to both soldiers and businessmen, is useful beyond its application to the study of military theory. In some chapters Sawyer adds depth and color to the historical illustration; in others he compares the book’s underlying concepts to those of Sun-tzu and other classic writers. Readers will find this translation and interpretation enjoyable and enlightening." Military Review"

   "This is perhaps the best of all the translations I have seen of Chinese military philosophy; the real value of the work is that it gives a clear, graphic and dramatic idea of the difference between that thought and the western way of war." Military and Naval History Journal

   "Having a 1983 Chinese language edition of this work, this reviewer, after a random critique of some of Sawyer’s translation, found his rendition of the original Chinese text not only insightful but impeccable." War in History