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The Tao of Peace Hardcover – February 15, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Students of Sunzi (Sun-tzu), author of the Art of War, tell us that he was more interested in peace than war and that he even had a Taoist slant. Wang Chen, a military commander of early ninth-century China, went a step further, turning Laozi's Dao De Jing into a manual for peace. Having experienced the horrors of war firsthand, Wang reflected on the causes of conflict and solutions for peace. Commenting on each chapter of the Dao De Jing, he elucidates his and Laozi's ideas. Wang is practical in terms of nonviolence, realizing that force can be necessary. Instead of strict avoidance of conflict, he emphasizes the paramount role of a leader. "To be able to gain the hearts of people, one must realize himself. One who is able to realize himself will certainly be pliant and weak." The obviously masculine characteristics of a successful leader must be balanced by feminine virtues. Equally important, a leader's desires must be reduced, because desire, leading to greed, is one of the root causes of conflict. The Sawyers, seasoned translators of China's military classics, include their own translation of the Dao De Jing, plus helpful comments on Wang's commentary. With more leaders like Wang Chen, we would need fewer like Sunzi. --Brian Bruya

About the Author

Ralph D. Sawyer has studied Chinese intellectual history at Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and National Taiwan University. He is the translator of Ling Ch'i Ching, The Art of War, The Seven Miltary Classics of Ancient China, and Sun Pin's Military Methods.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; 1st edition (February 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570625115
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570625114
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,513,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
The Sawyer translation of Wang Chen's T'ang Dynasty commentary on "Lao Tzu" (the "Tao Te Ching") as a guide to military and civil policy has been reissued in paperback by Westview (2003), as "The Tao of War," with Ralph D. Sawyer's name more prominently displayed than Wang Chen's, and a catalogue of Westview editions of Sawyer's books as an appendix of "Further Reading."
I have reviewed the Westview edition at greater length. Both editions consist of a translation of each of the eighty-one short chapters of the "Tao Te Ching", as understood by Wang Chen, followed by Wang Chen's commentary, and a modern explication of Wang Chen. General Wang Chen's book was written around 800 C.E., and is a departure from the better-known religious and philosophical readings of the Taoist classic. As Sawyer points out, however, it agrees in basic approach, if not in details, with a number of modern attempts to understand the book as a product of the Warring States period, and concerned with problems of society and government.
NOTE: The present volume should NOT be confused with a book by Diane Dreher, variously published as "The Tao of Peace: A Modern Guide to the Ancient Way of Peace and Harmony ," and "The Tao of Inner Peace: A Guide to Inner and Outer Peace."
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