Synopses & Reviews
The history of China is a history of warfare. Rarely in its 3,000-year existence has the country not been beset by war, rebellion, or raids. Warfare was a primary source of innovation, social evolution, and material progress in the Legendary Era, Hsia dynasty, and Shang dynasty--indeed, war was the force that formed the first cohesive Chinese empire, setting China on a trajectory of state building and aggressive activity that continues to this day.
In Ancient Chinese Warfare, a preeminent expert on Chinese military history uses recently recovered documents and archaeological findings to construct a comprehensive guide to the developing technologies, strategies, and logistics of ancient Chinese militarism. The result is a definitive look at the tools and methods that won wars and shaped culture in ancient China.
"Sawyer, a leading scholar of Chinese warfare and fellow at the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, is best known for his comprehensively edited translations of classical military writings. His latest analytical work is no less significant. It begins in the prehistoric period and continues through the fifth century B.C.E., an era traditionally described as one of stability, almost idyllic compared to the two-century warring states period that followed. Sawyer instead demonstrates through archeological evidence, traditional accounts, and convincing interpretations of inscriptions that conflict in China became increasingly complex, lethal, and decisive during the Hsia and Shang dynasties. Armies became structured forces with bureaucratized logistics. Warrior values were integrated into mainstream cultures. Sawyer's analysis ranges from the evolution of fortification, through the metallurgical innovations behind improved weapons, to the technologies and animal husbandry that enabled the chariots that became ancient China's signature. Warfare, says Sawyer, stimulated innovation, social change, and material progress. It also destroyed the peace and security of communities, then peoples, absorbed into ever-larger political systems sustained by force. Ancient China, shaped by its wars, was firmly set on 'a trajectory of state building and aggressive activity.' Illus. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
One of the leading scholars of Chinese military history offers a definitive guide to the ways in which military strategy and technology shaped the face of ancient Chinese civilization.
About the Author
Ralph D. Sawyer has worked extensively with major intelligence and defense agencies, as well as lecturing and consulting internationally on China. A Fellow of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, he is the translator of numerous books from the Chinese military corpus, including The Art of War. He lives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.