In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews 233 Ralph D. Sawyer, translator, with the collaboration ofMei-chün Lee Sawyer . Sun Pin: Military Methods. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1995. Hardcover $69.95, isbn 0-8133-8887-2. Paperback $18.95, isbn 0-81338888 -0. Since his studies at MIT, Harvard, and National Taiwan University, followed by a briefperiod ofuniversity teaching, Ralph D. Sawyer has spent two decades in international consulting throughout Asia and manyyears reading almost exclusively in müitary texts. The first fruits ofhis research have been translations of The Seven Military Classics ofAncient China (Westview, 1993), Sun Tzu: Art ofWar (Westview, 1994), and now Sun Pin: Military Methods. The Chinese text that Sawyer introduces, translates, and comments on in fhis fhird book is a manuscript attributed to Sun Pin, who lived between 380 and 300 b.c. (pp. 5, 12), probably "a great great grandson" ofSun Tzu (p. 5). Sun Pin's treatise had apparendy vanished during the Han dynasty, causing many scholars in later centuries to insist fhat it had never existed. However, in 1972, a text consisting ofsome four hundred bamboo strips comprising about eleven thousand Chinese characters and identified as Sun Pin's treatise was found in a Han tomb. Many ofdiese strips were perfecdy preserved, although major portions ofindividual ones had suffered varying degrees ofdamage. After three years ofpainstaking reconstruction effected by Chinese scholars during the Cultural Revolution, much ofthe contents had tentatively emerged and were published in Beijing in 1975. A revised text was published in 1985. Even in its imperfect condition, Sun Pin's treatise remains a remarkable text from the middle Warring States period. The translation of such a shattered and badly fragmented manuscript is an extremely difficult undertaking. Sawyer has mastered it in an admirable manner. He acknowledges that without the publications ofChinese experts such as Chang Chen-tse (this name is erroneously transliterated as "Chang Chen-che" on pp. ix, 74; compare the Chinese character on p. 357), he would never have been able to complete this venture. Nevertheless, he preserves his academic autonomy and imposes his own perspective, which is eclectic but predominandy one ofmüitary history. In quite a number ofcases, he presents textual interpretations ofhis own that deviate from fhose ofthe Chinese specialists. The most important of the ten parts of the book are the Preface (pp. xi-xiii); the vivid Historical Introduction, which describes Sun Pin's life and times, ana-© 1997 by University lyzes m detaj1 Sun Pm>s tactics m imp0rtantbattles, and compares Sun Pin's müitary thinking with fhat of Sun Tzu (pp. 3-77); the translation ofSun Pin's treatise, with insightful chapter-by-chapter commentaries (pp. 81-244); the Notes to fhe Introduction, Translations, and Commentaries (pp. 245-356); a Bibliography of 234 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 1997 Selected Chinese and Japanese Works in Chinese and Japanese characters only (PP· 357-358); a Glossary ofNames and Selected English Translations ofChinese Terms (pp. 359-369); an Index ofStrategic and Tactical Principles described in Sun Pin's treatise (pp. 371-376); and a General Index (pp. 377-392), which, however , only refers to pp. 1-244 and does not take into consideration the Notes (pp. 245-356). The high standard oferudition displayed by the translator throughout can be demonstrated best by his treatment ofthe Chinese twin terms chengand ch'i in chapter 30 (pp. 230-235). These terms, already used in Sun Tzu's Art ofWar, were, for instance, translated as "direct/indirect" by Lionel GUes (Sun Tzu on the Art of War [reprint, Taibei, 1964] , p. 34), and—already much better—as "normal/extraordinary " by Samuel B. Griffith (Sun Tzu: The Art of War [reprint, London, 1980), p. 91). Sawyer proposes the exceUent translation "orthodox/unortiiodox," grasping thus with a hifherto unmatched lucidity a core element ofold Chinese müitary thinking that ascribed supreme importance to these two categories. With his brUliant translation of chengand ch'i, he has, furthermore, widened the door to a deeper understanding ofthe Chinese art ofcunning, which is based primarüy on the interplay oforthodox and unorthodox methods to achieve müitary and nonmüitary goals. Of course, as in every great work, diere can be detected...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 233-235
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.