The two political classics in this book are the produce of a time of intense turmoil in Chinese history. Dating from the Period of the Warring States (403-221 BC) they anticipate Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince by nearly 2000 years. The Art Of War is the best known of a considerable body of Chinese works on the subject. It analyses the nature of war, and reveals how a victory may be ensured. The Book of Lord Shang is a political treatise for the instruction of rulers.
Those texts are anything but armchair strategy or ivory-tower speculation. They are serious, urgent and practical responses to the desperate situations in which they were written. They have been immensely influential both inside and outside China.