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The Thirty-Six Stratagems by Peter Taylor

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36. If all else fails, retreat

If it becomes obvious that your current course of action will lead to defeat, then retreat and regroup. When your side is losing, there are only three choices remaining: surrender, compromise, or escape. Surrender is complete defeat, compromise is half defeat, but escape is not defeat. As long as you are not defeated, you still have a chance.

The Ming emperor Hwei Ti had disposed of all his uncles except one who feigned madness. In 1403 this uncle, the Prince of Yan, led a huge army to the capital of Nanking to seize the throne. The city was surrounded and the emperor considered committing suicide when he was stopped by a eunuch who told him that his grandfather, the emperor Hong Wu, had left a chest in his care ...

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