Sun Tzu’s overall assertion in The Art of War is that a warrior is wise to not engage in conflict at all. And if winning a war without conflict is not possible, then you must analyse the conditions, and develop strategies in such a way that defeating the enemy is the only outcome.
It is interesting to read through this seed of a book, planted 2000 years ago. The teachings from Sun Tzu’s collection of inscribed bamboo strips has blossomed into countless real war strategies for many diverse military leaders, and also used in a myriad of fictional works in film, television, books, and plays.
While the details listed in The Art of War may not be pertinent to today’s military leaders – the concern for managing resources for ten thousand foot soldiers in formation isn’t relevant with today’s technology, for example – the underlying message of steadying your own position to make it impenetrable, while scoping for the enemies weaknesses is what determines the success of any war.
The great things about this book is that it carries with it an air of timelessness. It seems that humans will always be in conflict and waging wars with one another. His teachings will remain relevant for a very long time.
And of course, this isn’t just a guidebook for plotting military strategies, or understanding historical wartime strategies better – The Art of War has been used very effectively in a metaphorical sense. Some of the most high profile people in business, including CEOs, refer to the allusions this book teaches, to better their position in the workplace.
For me, since I’ve seen nearly every strategy mentioned in the book played out either in fiction or in known historical events, there was not much that was new to me, or that wasn’t obvious. But like looking at a decorated war veteran’s aged photo of his first day being enlisted, it is interesting to see where it all began.
Grab a copy of the amazing Penguin Pocket Hardback version here.