The two political classics in this book are the product of a time of intense turmoil in Chinese history. Dating from the Period of the Warring States (403221BC), they anticipate Machiavellis 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 victory may be ensured. The Book of Lord Shang is a political treatise for the instruction of rulers. These texts are anything but armchair strategy or ivorytower 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.