ART OF WAR
Lionel Giles Translation
SUN TZU ON THE ART OF WAR
This e-book presents a complete translation of Sun Tzu on the Art of War as penned by Dr.
Lionel Giles from Great Britain. In 1910, Dr. Lionel Giles, a staff member of the Department of
Oriental Printed Books and Manuscripts at the British Museum in London, introduced the
English-speaking world to an effective translation of Sun Tzu Bing Fa, literally translated as
Sun Tzu on War Methods. Lionel Giles published his translation through Luzac and Co. in
London and Shanghai under the more commercial title, Sun Tzu on the Art of War.
Although written in 1910, this translation of Sun Tzu's work continues to be the standard from
which other English translations of the Art of War are measured. Dr. Lionel Giles had both a
solid background in military affairs and was fluent in Chinese where he served as a
representative of the British government. He was uniquely qualified to translate the Art of
War in a way that would explain what Sun Tzu meant with each of his passages.
The following, without commentary, is the Dr. Giles translation: as it appeared in the copy of
original Luzac and Co. book pictured here.
I. LAYING PLANS
1. Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State.
2. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry
which can on no account be neglected.
3. The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s
deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.
4. These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and
5,6. The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow
him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.
7. Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.
8. Earth comprise