The School of Sun Tzu: Winning Empires without War


Notice of Publication

Author: David G. Jones B.A., M.A., Fellow of the University of King’s College

Awards: Designated a “Rising Star” and “Editor’s Choice” by iUniverse

Format: 5.5×8.5 Perfect Bound

Price: Hardcover $37.95; Softcover $27.95; eBook $3.99

Availability: and; the author

Page Count: 420

Category: HIS027000

Lessons for negotiators, relationship managers, national leaders and diplomats gained from the strategies that ended the period of the Warring States in China, and helped found the First Empire.

Globally, conditions are reminiscent of an epoch 2000 years ago, in what is now China. Conflict is ubiquitous and continuing. War is happening somewhere every day. Attempts at establishing harmony are frustrated. The fervent wish of many is that means be found to open channels between opposing parties, build trust and strong relationships that will allow people to move forward collectively. How can this be done?

My research, now published as The School of Sun Tzu, examines in detail how a small state – over two millennia ago – was able to end 254 years of war, and then bond those warring states into the Chinese empire. All that was achieved in just two decades – through diplomatic means.

The School of Sun Tzu links, for the first time, the history of the foundation of China as a nation with the method used to make it happen. That method included a treatise on principles and philosophy known as the Tao Te Ching, today one of the most frequently published and translated works in the world. It was the mate of a manual for organizational and inter-organizational management that we know today as The Art of War, but whose title was actually Ping-fa, or The Art of Diplomacy. Ping-fa’s messages include instructions in communications, leadership, command and control, intelligence and planning. These two works were the tools for peace- and nation-building.

This consequential review of China’s foundation is an inter-disciplinary study by a social anthropologist with extensive experience in public and private management, planning and policy. That combination of education, experience and skill allowed author David G. Jones to unearth links that have not been defined until now. He began his examination by studying the Tao Te Ching and Ping-fa. He questioned when these works were written, by whom, and to what use were they applied. The commentary on these works does not address these critical issues. But it is widely recognized by writers and readers alike that these works were, and are momentous. The nature of that importance has remained unclear.

Despite the prevalent notion that the Tao Te Ching and Ping-fa were written by individuals “some time in Chinese antiquity,” they first appeared just shortly before China’s founding in 221 BCE. They are policy and practice: the products of enlightened individuals working in concert. Learned persons had been recruited from the known world to find the rationale and process by which war could end and peace prevail.

The Tao Te Ching is a comprehensive and integrated framework of principles and policies for good government, and a people’s relationship to each other and to that government. It is so elegant many assume it to be a religious treatise. Stripped of its military language, Ping-fa’s real messages emerge. The army at war metaphor was a device intended to assist learning and memorization. The commentary assumes this medium was actually the message.

The small Middle Kingdom state of Qin was able – in a few short years – to establish the Chinese empire without force, or conflict. Their tools were propaganda, persuasion and intrigue. The event, and the methods used constitute achievements of global significance. They have not been articulated until now.

The School of Sun Tzu details for the first time just how incredible was first emperor Qin Shi Huang, and how significant were his achievements. That detail emerges when one strips away the shroud of disinformation that was built around the person of Qin Shi Huang for reasons of politics alone. Today he is known only as a tyrant who built the Great Wall. None of that is true. Millions visit his terracotta soldier surrounded mausoleum each year and are reminded, again and again, that he was a ruthless murderer who hated the common people.

First emperor Qin Shi Huang needs to have his honor and reputation restored by China. His discoveries need to be studied by those dedicated to advancing the causes of conflict-free management and international peace.


Interested in managing without conflict – in your personal and professional life? Think that war is inevitable? Here’s my book on the way to peace.

2019 Hoffer Award in Legacy Nonfiction

 The School of Sun Tzu, David G. Jones, iUniverse – In this ambitious work, the author endeavors to ascertain the existence of a particular school of thought, noted as the School of Sun Tzu. Taking careful and calculated precaution, the author proves to be a worthy and thoughtful historian—uncovering details rarely discussed within academia, if at all. There are many important and helpful ways in which the author builds upon historical literature and current thought as it regards the School of Sun Tzu, the most important of which is the characterization of the historical work itself, transferring it from one focused on warfare to one focused on diplomacy and peaceful engagement. Overall, the book is an effective and interesting exploration of a school of thought, often misunderstood, and illuminates a significant part of the story that has remained largely untold.

US Review of Books book review by Michael Radon

“Because Ping-fa is intentionally, and delightfully, metaphorical, the messages need to be ferreted out, tasted, and tested.”

Many people have heard of the classic Chinese text The Art of War by Sun Tzu and may also be somewhat familiar with the way in which our society tends to twist its messages of troop deployment and terrain navigation into some sort of business strategy. The author of this examination of Sun Tzu lays forth a compelling argument that much of what we understand about this ancient text is colored by mistranslations, commentaries of existing erroneous commentaries, and even revisionist histories of China’s first empire. Re-examining this classic work of Chinese literature and understanding it as a series of educational metaphors rather than literal pieces of advice allow it to appear as a tool for cooperation rather than conquering and sheds a whole new light on what so many people claim to understand.

Demonstrating a profound understanding not only of the original text but of many of the most popular translations and commentaries of The Art of War, the author provides these with equal time while also offering his interpretations as well as an analysis of what others have gleaned from the text. This helpful approach allows readers to apply the author’s perspective to the translated text and then see how it sizes up to other interpretations in the voluminous footnotes. Through the author’s provision of ample history, modern perspectives from books and magazines, and even well-known Chinese parables, readers can get a more complete picture on the realities of not only The Art of War (referred to largely by its untranslated name, Ping-fa) but also of Sun Tzu “himself.” The resulting read is enlightening and challenging to preconceived notions but in a way that makes plenty of sense and allows the reader to create their own conclusions based on their understanding and the compelling evidence put forth by the author.

Pacific Book Review by Christa Hill

The School of Sun Tzu: Winning Empires without Wars is a semi-academic study of the topic of Sun Tzu. The author is fascinated by the ideas that surround Sun Tzu, whether it is a school or a person. Jones explores some of the deeper concepts touched on in the book The Art of War. Many of the Chinese authors and philosophers that are discussed in this “ship’s log” have developed ideas about the treatment of others and the behaviors of the society.

Jones’ insights and growing perspective throughout the book are interesting and meaningful for those who know very little about Eastern cultures. As a Westerner, Eastern culture is slightly alien to me, which is why this author’s quick unpacking of the elegance and nuance of these differences make this book educational and important.

The work of Ping-Fa is where many of the musings which make up this book stem from. Ping-fa examines the rise of the Chinese Empire and the structures of communication, oppression and transformation. The School of Sun Tzu, which is what this book is born of, which an institution that looks at idea generation and behavior modification.

This book is a thought provoking read that encourages the reader to learn more about the world, to stay informed and to engage with new and different philosophies. It has religious elements, linguistic ponderings and life histories of important Asian people. While David G. Jones mainly focuses on China he also includes smatterings of other Asian countries, such as Japan, which help to lend credibility to many for his notes.

The School of Sun Tzu: Winning Empires without Wars is incredibly well written especially for a self-proclaimed diary. It also centers on a very well known and important book The Art of War, which according to Jones is not truly about war. He looks at methods of starting and winning a war in the time that Ping-Fa would have written, which reveals a lot about certain ways of thinking. I would recommend this work to readers interested in learning more about Eastern Culture, and a behind the scenes look at war and its many moving parts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: