Some of the commentary I have read attempts to cast doubt on the existence of Sun Tzu and Sun Wu, so the issue of authorship and timeline are still up for debate.
An intriguing possibility is that both “The Art of War” and the “Tao Te Ching” were written by the same person. The corelation in both books between the yin and yang of life and the yin and yang of war are too similar to dismiss that possibility.
That’s not say both volumes were published contemperaneously. But rather, one or the other were released first, and the other, perhaps, released as a refresher or expansion of the first.
My guess is that the Tao came first and War second.
BTW, during the Tianamen crack-down, we were involved in a tertiary level in setting up safehouses for Chinese students in America, If you recall, Bush Sr. had made statements that he would turn over dissidents to ChiCom authorities. He never did so, at least to my knowledge, and the safehouse plan was never needed.
Anyway, I had a raggy copy of the Tao Te Ching. The vast majority of students never saw the darn thing in their entire lives until we showed them the book.
I would think the Tao Te Ching would present a direct threat to ChiCom authority. On nearly every level, it’s a step-by-step plan to overthrow the commie bastards.
(So watch someone come along and tell me that the Tao Te Ching is posted in every post office and library in China.)
Anyway, I find the entire matter interesting.