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Sun Pin Military Methods

   Reconstructed from bamboo strips recovered three decades ago from a newly opened Han dynasty tomb, the Military Methods (as we have titled it in translation to distinguish it from Sun-tzu’s Art of War) is attributed to Sun Pin (Sun Bin), the ill-fated heroic strategist who formulated the measures through which Ch’i, the powerful eastern coastal state whose military heritage extended back to its founder, the T’ai Kung, twice defeated their nemesis Wei. Reputedly a direct descendant of Sun-tzu himself, Sun Pin's writings reflect the material changes wrought over the intervening 150 years during which Warring States warfare almost unimaginably escalated and intensified, coming to entail massive casualties and catastrophic destruction.

   Although falling well within the theoretical and conceptual thrust of Sun-tzu’s formative writing, the Military Methods explicates many concepts only nebulously explored or minimally articulated in the Art of War, including maneuver warfare, ch’i, command and character, strategic power, and especially unorthodox warfare.(For this difficult translation we supplemented our usual historical introduction describing the key battles and innovative tactics that marked Sun Pin’s era with extensive chapter commentaries that emphasize the evolution of military thought and also appended numerous notes on textual and translation matters.)

   “Sun Pin’s Military Methods provides a wealth of new insights. Readers of history will gain a new perspective on the formative years of a great civilization, while those interested in modern Asia will discover a book that is already a best-seller in that part of the world. But most of all, Western students of warfare will now be able to enter a world in which nearly all their basic assumptions, from the separation of war and politics to the triangular organization of military units, are challenged.” Tactical Notebook