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The Art of War
Sun Tzu

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Using Spies

CHAPTER SUMMARY (13.01-13.20): Using Five Kinds of Spies
Use spies to gather inside information on your adversary and avoid doing battle altogether, or use them to end a conflict as quickly as possible. Gain foreknowledge of an adversary's plans so that you can derail them and forestall movements against your own troops. Accept the need of spies to be deceitful (and your need to use these duplicitous agents); they allow you to minimize costs (in lives and money) or to avert battle altogether. Consider the five types of spies: 1) local spies, 2) internal spies, 3) double spies, 4) dead spies, and 5) living spies. Remember to keep your relationship with each kind of spy private, to yourself. And remember also to distinguish between loyal spies and untrustworthy spies, those who are in fact agents for the other side. Has the other side discovered that someone on its side is, in fact, a spy of yours? Cut your ties to that spy and the spy's informants. When spies relay a productive piece of information to you, use it to augment the advantages on your army's side. Meanwhile, keep your own plans (troop movements, organization, etc.) secret from your adversary. Cultivate double spies or agents to build a foundation for your spy network; convert them to your side and build from there, adding other types of spies. Know that such a network is essential to victory.


[13.01] Generally, raising an army of a hundred thousand and advancing it a thousand kilometers, the expenses to the people and the nation's resources are one thousand gold pieces a day.

[13.02] Those in commotion internally and externally, those exhausted on the roads, and those unable to do their daily workare seven hundred thousand families.*

[13.03] Two sides remain in standoff for several years in order to do battle for a decisive victory on a single day.

[13.04] Yet [given this fact] one [who refuses] to outlay a hundred pieces of gold and thereby does not know the enemy's situation is the height of inhumanity. This one is not the general of the people,* a help to the ruler, or the master of victory.

[13.05] What enables the enlightened rulers and good generals to conquer the enemy at every move and achieve extraordinary success is foreknowledge.

[13.06] Foreknowledge cannot be elicited from ghosts and spirits; it cannot be inferred from comparison of previous events, or from the calculations of the heavens,* but must be obtained from people who have knowledge of the enemy's situation.

[13.07] Therefore there are five kinds of spies used: Local spies, internal spies, double spies, dead spies, and living spies.*

[13.08] When all five are used, and no one knows their Way,* it is called the divine organization and is the ruler's treasure.

[13.09] For local spies, we use the enemy's people. For internal spies, we use the enemy's officials. For double spies, we use the enemy's spies. For dead spies, we use agents to spread misinformation to the enemy. For living spies, we use agents to return with reports.



13.02 those unable to do The Chinese people; they had to labor to support the soldiers.
seven hundred thousand families  A historically derived ratio: For each soldier who went to battle in ancient China, roughly 700 families worked to support him.
13.03 not the general of the people. Not a leader who acts on behalf of the welfare of the people.
13.07 five kinds of spies (Why call the fourth kind dead? Their
spyhood is short-lived: Once the information they're passing on is found to be false, they can no longer be used.

Local spy Someone acquainted with your enemy.
Internal spy An intimate friend or family member of the enemy.
Double spy A spy whom your enemy trusts but who actually serves you.
Dead spy A spy who spreads misinformation about you, helps you mislead the enemy.
Living spy A spy who actively collects new information for you about your enemy.


13.08 no one knows their Way. No one is aware of your ties to the spies, that they are your spies.
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