02 April 2010

Chinese Warfare VIII

As good ol' Brian rightly pointed out, tactics does not exist in isolation from strategy.

In Brian's own words on Facebook:

"I'm surprised that you haven't cited three of the four seminal texts to understanding Chinese warfare. Art of war is obvious, but what about Three Kingdoms, Water Margin or the 36 Strategies?"

"How can you understand the tactics without understanding the underlying strategy?"

The Three Kingdoms. This is easily the most celebrated period in Chinese warfare. The most well-known. Many people of Chinese descent would be able to tell specific stories from that period. There is, of course, Records of the Three Kingdoms and the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, both of which are worth examining.

The Water Margin. This consisted of a series of tales, some totalling seventy while others totalled a hundred and a hundred and twenty. These tales told of different campaigns by the group of bandits to put right the empire.

36 Stratagems. This, of course, consisted of thirty-six Chinese idioms which had specific events behind them, some dating back two thousand years. The Warring States Period. Some are on the level of strategy while others are battlefield tactics.

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