Sun Zi's Art of War - The World's First Treatise on Military Science
Sun Zi's Art of War is the earliest work of military science extant in the world. Its author, Sun Wu, was an outstanding strategist in the late Spring and Autumn Period. Sun Wu was born in the State of Qi, later moving to the State of Wu. The endemic wars between the various states at that time caused Sun Wu to think deeply about military strategy. He wrote The Art of War, and presented it to the ruler of Wu, who put him in command of his army. In consequence, Wu soon became a major military power in the Spring and Autumn Period.
The Art of War consists of 13 chapters, amounting to some 6,000 characters. In this limited space, Sun Wu expounds his wide-ranging views on war. He emphasizes the importance of "knowing yourself and knowing your enemy", "attacking the enemy unexpectedly" and concentrating a superior force to thoroughly defeat the enemy. He was also probably the first to recommend the use of spies. Sun Wu especially stressed the importance of using war only as a last resort, because war was a grievous burden on the people. Some 100 years later, during the Warring States Period, Sun Bin inherited Sun Wu's military theory, and wrote Sun Bin's Art of War.
Sun Zi's Art of War has been translated into English, French, Japanese, German, Russian, Czech and other languages. Because it is deemed applicable to many of life's problems, not just war, it enjoys high international prestige.