The Art of War: The Oldest Military Treatise in the World
Harrisburg: The Military Service Publishing Company, 1944. First U.S. Edition. Hardcover. Small octavo. 99 pages. Near find in a good dust jacket. Bound in maroon cloth over boards with gilt-stamped spine and upper board. A few light rubs to binding extremities. Hinges sound. Jacket has a 1" chip to head of spine, a .5" chip to heel, along with a few edge tears and smaller edge chips. Jacket spine is somewhat faded, with rubs along joint folds.
The tools of war may have changed dramatically since this work first appeared about 500 BC, but its focus on fundamentals and the influence of politics and human nature on military operations gives it a timeless relevance. The first Western translation appeared in French in 1782. Amazingly, the first English translation didn't appear until the early 20th century.
The present edition--the first to be published in the U.S.--is transcribed from the 1910 translation by Lionel Giles of the Department of Oriental Books and Manuscripts in the British Museum. It includes an Introduction and Notes by Brigadier General Thomas R. Phillips.
The strategy and tactics of Sun Tzu emphasize maneuver and the avoidance of battle unless all considerations are favorable. The winning strategist seeks battle after victory is assured, while those destined to defeat fight first and seek victory in the course of the battle.