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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: January 2015

4 - Ancient and Modern Eras of Grand Strategy


Chapter 4 provides an overview of the evolution of the theory of grand strategy as it developed, from its roots in ancient China and Greece to prominent theorists who contributed to the philosophical, military, and economic foundations of grand strategy since the seventeenth century. These scholars and strategists laid the foundations for understanding the forces that shape the articulation of grand strategy and its development as a discipline for guiding how the state implements its policies and strategies.

Grand Strategy in the Ancient Era

The development of grand strategy can be traced back to ancient China, Greece, and Rome. To understand how the thinkers of those eras contributed to the evolution of grand strategy, this chapter analyzes prominent strategists whose ideas and principles helped articulate the defining concepts of strategy from which the discipline and principles of grand strategy are derived. The ideas developed by these thinkers influence primarily how we as modern scholars and policy makers think about the nature of the articulation of grand strategy and, to some extent, its implementation.

Ancient China – Sun Tzu

Scholars are not certain when Sun Tzu lived. Most, however, think it was during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history (ca. 771–476 BCE). Experts believe that Sun Tzu lived at the end of this era of upheaval and reform (ca. 544–496 BCE).

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