"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle." Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Covering more than two thousand years of history, twelve key battles that helped shape today's China
The study of Chinese battles faces many hurdles that include different spelling systems, a haze of seemingly impenetrable names, places, and ideas, and different approaches to recording history. Early indigenous Chinese histories were written by Confucians with an anti-military bias, and used rather laconic phrases to describe battles. These accounts were then transmitted to Jesuit missionaries who shared the Confucian disdain for martial matters. The modern discipline of history developed in the West during a time of particular Chinese weakness and political division, resulting in the lack of parallel material. Decisive Battles in Chinese History by Morgan Deane overcomes these obstacles to present the vast span of recorded Chinese history through key battles, from Maling, fought in 342 BC during the Warring States period, to Hengyang in 1944, which marked the end of major Japanese operations in China. Each of the twelve chapters highlights a significant conflict that selectively focuses on unique Chinese characteristics of the time, including belief systems, ruling ideology, the connection between technology and warfare, military theory, political events and rulers, and foreign policy, including China's eventual interaction with the West. The book pushes back on a variety of ideas and stereotypes, ranging from the Chinese use of gunpowder, their supposedly weak reaction to the West, the viability of the Dynastic Cycle in studying history, the context of Chinese military theory, the exclusivity of martial and cultural spheres, and the uniqueness of Western imperialism. It also offers a groundbreaking reassessment of Mao Zedong's leadership and his impact on the development of guerilla warfare. In a world filled with disturbing reports of conflict and potential warfare, Decisive Battles in Chinese History offers a unique addition to students, historians, and general readers wishing to better understand Chinese history.