Sun-Tzu (ca. 544-496 B.C.)Sun-Tzu (ca. 544-496 B.C.) - The most famous military treatise in history was written by Sun-Tzu. The accounts of his life are scarce. He is believed to have been born at the end of the Spring and Autumn Period of the Zhou Dynasty. This would fit with his profession as a general since the period was marked by strife. The two primary sources of his life are somewhat conflicting. The Spring and Autumn Annals say he was born in the powerful Zhou state of Qi. But the Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji in Chinese) have him born in the vassal state of Wu. Since the Spring and Autumn Annals are nearly contemporary with his life, one might assume it is the correct account. However, both records agree he served King Helü of Wu, making it possible Shiji is correct.  Apparently it was Sun-Tzu's success as Helü's general that inspired him to write The Art of War around 512 B.C. It's divided into 13 chapters, each dealing with a different aspect of warfare. From the first chapter - Laying Plans: "All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near." Despite its name, the treatise's main theme is how to avoid war whenever possible, and that force should only be used as a last resort. His precepts proved sound when put to the test at the Battle of Boju in 506; and by the end of his life, Wu had grown from a minor state into a powerful kingdom.