One of the most influential documents of our time, Mao Tse-tung's pamphlet on guerrilla warfare has become the basic textbook for waging revolution in underdeveloped and emergent areas throughout the world. Recognizing the fundamental disparity between agrarian and urban societies, Mao advocated unorthodox strategies that converted deficits into advantages: using intelligence provided by the sympathetic peasant population; substituting deception, mobility, and surprise for superior firepower; using retreat as an offensive move; and educating the inhabitants on the ideological basis of the struggle. This radical new approach to warfare, waged in jungles and mountains by mobile guerrilla bands closely supported by local inhabitants, has been adopted by other revolutionary leaders from Ho Chi Minh to Che Guevara. Mao wrote On Guerrilla Warfare in 1937 while in retreat after ten years of battling the Nationalist army of Chiang Kai-shek. Twelve years later, the Nationalist Chinese were rousted from the mainland, and Mao consolidated his control of a new nation, having put his theories of revolutionary guerrilla warfare to the test. Established governments have slowly come to recognize the need to understand and devise means to counter this new method of warfare. Samuel B. Griffith's classic translation makes Mao's treatise widely available and includes a comprehensive introduction that profiles Mao, analyzes the nature and conduct of guerrilla warfare, and considers its implications for American policy.
Samuel B. Griffith IIrose to the rank of Brigadier General (U.S.M.C.), retiring in 1956 after serving on the staff of the U.S. Commander in Chief, Europe. He earned a Ph.D. in Chinese military history from Oxford in 1961. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he served in Nicaragua, China, Cuba, and England prior to World War II. Wounded at Guadalcanal, he later returned to action and won the Navy Cross and the Army Distinguished Service Cross. His translation of Sun-Tzu's Art of War (Oxford UP) is a staple of modern military study.