Conquer and GovernEarly Chinese Military Texts from the Yi Zhou shu

Conquer and GovernEarly Chinese Military Texts from the Yi Zhou shu

Robin McNeal

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780824831202

Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press


China's Warring States era (c. fifth–third centuries BCE) was the setting for an explosion of textual production, and one of the most sophisticated and enduring genres of writing from this period was the military text. Social and political changes were driven in large part by the increasing scope and scale of warfare, and some of the best minds of the day devoted their attention to the systematic analysis of all factors involved in waging war. This book makes available a corpus of military texts from a long-neglected Warring States compendium of historical, political, military, and ritual writings known as the Yi Zhou shu, or Remainder of the Zhou Documents. The texts articulate the relationship between military conquest of an enemy and incorporation of conquered territories into one's civilian government, expressed dynamically through the paired Chinese concept of wen and wu, the civil and the martial. Exploring this conceptual dyad provides an alternative view of the social and intellectual history of classical China—one based not primarily on philosophical works but on a complex array of ideological writings concerned with the just, effective, and appropriate use of state power. In addition, the book presents a careful reconstruction of the poetic structure of these texts; analyzes their place in the broader discourse on warfare and governance in early China; introduces the many text historical problems of the Yi Zhou shu itself; and offers a synthetic analysis of early Chinese thinking about warfare, strategy, and the early state's use of coercive power.