13.20

Chapter: The Use of Spies 13.20
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Translation:

Whether the object be to crush an army, to storm a city, or to assassinate an individual, it is always necessary to begin by finding out the names of the attendants, the aides-de-camp, and door-keepers and sentries of the general in command. Our spies must be commissioned to ascertain these.

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Commentary

When on a secret mission, the ‘unimportant’ people who are present along the way can become very important. They may see or overhear you and report their findings. They may also be persuaded to help, or at least not interfere.

Such people often feel unloved and ignored. Using their names can by itself be enough to bring them to your side. Knowing them also gives opportunity for threat that can silence those who are too loyal to their own side to help you.

In business, you likewise get a lot of information from receptionists, janitors and so on, who hear much and say little.