The Tao of Spycraft: Intelligence Theory and Practice in Traditional China
By Ralph D. Sawyer
Westview Press, 1998, 592 pp.
Sawyer has previously assembled several other books of this type: substantial translations of and commentaries on classic Chinese texts of warfare and statecraft. He divides this work into extensive sections on early Chinese history, espionage, covert action, theories of intelligence assessment, military intelligence, and divination.
Western readers will often find themselves shaking their heads at Chinese dicta that seem trivial, elliptical, or simply irrelevant to the work of government ("A drowning man sank into the water, his rescuers also entered the water. Their entering the water was the same but their reasons different.") for this reason, they may not come away from this massive volume convinced of the superiority of the Chinese approach. They will, however, certainly come to a better understanding of Chinese texts, which mean as much to Chinese strategists as Clausewitz does to Western ones.