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The Thirty-Six Stratagems by Peter Taylor

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16. In order to capture, one must let loose

Cornered prey will often mount a final desperate attack. To prevent this you let the enemy believe he still has a chance for freedom. His will to fight is thus dampened by his desire to escape. When in the end the freedom is proven a falsehood the enemy’s morale will be defeated and he will surrender without a fight.

In the early years of the Han Dynasty news that Prince Mao Dun of Syong Nu murdered his own father and declared himself the new king spread to the neighbouring country of Dong Hu. The Dong Hu wanted to see what kind of person Mao Dun was and so they sent an emissary requesting a gift of the old king’s horse. The officials of Syong Nu disapproved but Mao Dun gave this horse to Dong Hu ...

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