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September 27, 2010


Joseph Fouche

The recent book on Richelieu and Olivares I read comments that Tacitus was the Thucydides for the hipster statesmen/favorite set in the early 1600s.


Ha ha, that's pretty amusing.

Phil Ridderhof

I believe that reading "The Romance of the Three Kingdoms" greatly facilitates understanding Sun Tzu. Otherwise, "The Art of War" can come across just as pretty obvious pithy statements.
By placing that philosophy into execution through its stories, the novel gives an idea of how conduct of such war would be different than that we may see in the west.
Phil Ridderhof


You actually see many of Sun Tzu's operational judgments reflected in the strategems, operations, and tactics of the characters.

T. Greer

*Hear, hear! I have always thought it absurd that IR folks can analyze the 27 years of the Peloponnesian War three times over and be lauded for the effort, but those who try to do the same with the subsequent 2,000 years of history are laughed out of the room. If Sparta and Athens are legitimate objects of study, why not Egypt and Babylon, Rome and Byzantium, Qin, and Chu, or the Ummayyad and Abbasids?

*The Sunzi/Three Kingdoms connection makes sense - the earliest extant edition of Sunzi (before archeologists started digging up graves in the 70s) is the copy with Cao Cao's annotations on it.

Burton Watson's translation of Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian are another good place to look for an illumination of Sunzi. This volume, in particular, is valuable in this respect.

*Niccolo Machiavelli's greatest intellectual nemesis was another 16th century Italian political philosopher, the now forgotten Giovanni Botero. His most influential work, Reasons of State, was something of a hack-job at Machiavellian politics, and it is on this count he is remembered by a few intellectual historians today. Given this reputation, I was surprised to find that the great majority of Botero's jeremiads were directed not at Machiavelli, but at the newly translated Tacitus!


The first time I read Robb's GG concept it made me think of a line from Dune (as I remember the line anyways): "He who can destroy a thing, controls the thing".

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