He will win who knows how to fight - and when not to fight. This is the classic translation of the Chinese military masterpiece, and it remains the best as it preserves the character and nuances of the Chinese original. The inspiration of Mao Tse Tung and countless generations of military leaders, it was written in antiquity and consists of thirteen chapters that reflect the mind of a born strategist and practical soldier whose maxims, full of acuteness and common sense, relate as much to the present day as they do to the military conditions of the time when they were written. Preceded by critical notes on Sun Tzu and the history of his work and including key Chinese characters, chapters are devoted to laying plans; waging war; attack by strategem, tactical dispositions, energy, weak points and strong; manoeuvering, variation of tactics, the army on the march; terrain, the nine situations, attack by fire and the use of spies, followed by an extensive index. As useful in the pursuit of success in modern business as it was in ancient warfare, this volume also relates to all aspects of personal and everyday life in which you must either be a winner or a loser.
Lionel Giles used the Wade-Giles Romanization method of translation, pioneered by his father, Herbert Giles. Like many Victorian-era sinologists, he was primarily interested in Chinese literature, which Victorians approached as a branch of classics. Victorian sinologists contributed greatly to problems of textual transmission of the classics. The following quote shows Giles' attitude to the problem identifying the authors of ancient works like the Lieh Tzu, the Chuang Tzu and the Tao Te Ching:
The extent of the actual mischief done by this "Burning of the Books " has been greatly exaggerated. Still, the mere attempt at such a holocaust gave a fine chance to the scholars of the later Han dynasty (A.D. 25-221), who seem to have enjoyed nothing so much as forging, if not the whole, at any rate portions, of the works of ancient authors. Some one even produced a treatise under the name of Lieh Tzu, a philosopher mentioned by Chuang Tzu, not seeing that the individual in question was a creation of Chuang Tzu's brain!
Continuing to produce translations of Chinese classics well into the later part of his life, he confessed to a friend that he was a "Taoist at heart, and I can well believe it, since he was fond of a quiet life, and was free of that extreme form of combative scholarship which seems to be the hall mark of most Sinologists."