The Art of War

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Overview

Widely regarded as "The Oldest Military Treatise in the World," this landmark work covers principles of strategy, tactics, maneuvering, communication, and supplies; the use of terrain, fire, and the seasons of the year; the classification and utilization of spies; the treatment of soldiers, including captives, all have a modern ring to them.

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The Art of War

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Overview

Widely regarded as "The Oldest Military Treatise in the World," this landmark work covers principles of strategy, tactics, maneuvering, communication, and supplies; the use of terrain, fire, and the seasons of the year; the classification and utilization of spies; the treatment of soldiers, including captives, all have a modern ring to them.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This year's crop of Penguin "Great Ideas" volumes offers another eclectic dozen works that shaped society from the ancient Greeks to the 20th century. The books are fairly no frills, but the price isn't bad. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
City Book Review
With editorial notes and a new translation by James Trapp, this beautifully bound book is a must for any strategist or business man, or any everyday man that is looking for tips on how to rise to the top of whatever corporate or social ladder he is climbing.
From the Publisher
"The Art of War is among the greatest classics of military literature ever written. Sun Tzu warfare is as applicable today as when the book was written some 2,500 years ago....Pick up The Art of War and read it."—General A.M. Gray, Marine Corps Gazette

"As a reflection of the Chinese mind, this little work is as relevant as any Confucian classic."—The Times (London)

"Westerners have dozens of books to choose from if they want to learn about Japanese philosophy and military tactics....But when the Japanese, especially those in business, want information on the subject, many turn to an ancient Chinese, not Japanese, military manual, The Art of War....Shows managers how to be fearless in resolving conflicts."—Boardroom Reports

"Shows managers how to be fearless in resolving conflicts."—Boardroom Reports

"A brief tract on strategy that has been admired in China for centuries. Some of Mao Tse Tung's most eloquent thoughts are merely rehashes of Sun Tzu and his interpreters."—The Los Angeles Herald Examiner

"Samuel Griffith's original and scholarly translation of The Art of War shows how good scholarship can make an easily readable translation that is much more useful to modern readers."—The Philadelphia Inquirer

From Barnes & Noble
This classic of military strategy includes a detailed introduction & commentary on the history of Chinese warfare & military thought. Includes battle diagrams.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Sun Tzu (544 BCE-496 BCE) was a Chinese military general and tactician.
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Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Sun-tzu is the earliest extant strategic book in human history. It is also the most brilliant and widely applied strategic book ever written.

This timeless, invaluable classic has been handed down to us over approximately twenty-four hundred years.' Even its earliest existing version -- the Linyi text -- is about twenty-one hundred years old. Throughout these two millennia, Sun-tzu's compact but rich text has been the authoritative guide for military affairs and political activities primarily in the Far East.

In more modern times, Sun-tzu was translated into French (in 1772 ) and so gradually was introduced to the West. It also has come to be extensively adopted in all areas where problem solving, competition, or development require strategic guidance. Therefore, in addition to its traditional military and political uses, it has naturally become a part of international affairs, global trade, political campaigns, athletic competitions, the management of large or small businesses, and even daily concerns for both profit and success. We therefore may say that Sun-tzu can address something as enormous as a country's existence and the achievement of its military goals, or as modest as a person's satisfaction in life.

THE AUTHOR, SUN WU

Sun-tzu is the book's title, and it also is the author's name; labeling a book after its author was customary in China during the pre-Qin period (before 211 B.C.). From historical records we know that Sun-tzu's given name was Sun Wu, that he was born into a noble clan initially surnamed Chen which lived in the state of Qi, and that he was a youngercontemporary of Confucius. Since the early Zhou Dynasty his ancestors had possessed feudal territory south of the Yellow River; theirs was a small state called Chen, which was later assimilated by the major power, Chu (see the map in Appendix 1).

The state of Chen was filled with political intrigues. In 675 B.C. a political storm in which the heir apparent was murdered swept the state, and this persuaded the princeling Chen Wan to escape to the state of Qi. This princeling was the first generation of Sun Wu's clan to live in Qi.

When Chen Wan was still young, his father, the Lord of Chen, invited a taishi in charge of records and astronomy for the Zhou emperor's court to cast an oracle for his son; this oracle foretold that Chen Wan's descendants would possess a state outside of Chen. Later, when Chen Wan was betrothed, his fiancée's family had the bridal couple's fortunes read, and they were told that their descendants would begin to prosper in the fifth generation, and by the eighth generation they would be without peer.

The Power Struggles of Sun Wu's Ancestors

After the Chen clan immigrated to Qi, its members showed a marked ability for political advancement. The fifth-generation descendant of Chen Wan was named Chen Wuyu, and he ultimately achieved the paramount station of daifu (comparable to a proconsul); this coincided with what had been foretold at his great-great-grandmother's betrothal.

Since the Chen clan rose out of a dangerous environment awash with political machinations, it grew to be adept in cultivating exceptional strategic insight, So, at about the time Chen Wuyu became a daifu, he and his father, Chen Wenzi, sensitively took note of the increasingly serious dissension between the ruling Qing clan of Qi and the other nobles. The father said to his son, "Something is about to happen.... What can we gain from this?" Chen Wuyu obliquely replied, "On the main boulevard of the capital we will be able to secure a hundred carts of the Qing family's lumber." Chen Wenzi warned him to "guard them carefully." (This riddle meant that they would obtain the resources on which the Qing clan's political power was based.)

In the autumn of 545 B.C., the wielder of the Qing clan's political power, Qing Feng, went on a hunt with Chen Wuyu accompanying him as an attendant. Before they arrived at the hunting ground, Chen's father sent him the grievous news that Chen Wuyu's mother was critically ill. Qing's men immediately had a tortoiseshell oracle cast and were given a forewarning of death. Tightly clasping the shell in both of his hands, Chen Wuyu wept, and Qing Feng therefore allowed him to return. On his way back, though, Chen Wuyu destroyed all of the boats and bridges, thereby cutting off Qing Feng's return route. And upon his arrival, the Chen clan instantly allied itself with the enemies of the Qing clan.

Before long, the Lord of Qi held the autumnal sacrifices. While the Qing clan still remaining in the capital guarded the shrine, the Chens and their allies sent in their own grooms to sing at the festivities. As the hours passed, the Qing men took off their armor, tethered their horses, drank wine, and enjoyed the entertainment. When the time was ripe, the Chens and their allies swiftly stole all of the armor and weapons, then slew the entire Qing family. The Chen clan thereupon began its climb to become the most politically influential in all of Qi.

Chen Wuyu had three sons: Kai, Qi, and Shu. The surname Sun was conferred upon the third son, Chen Shu, because of his military accomplishments; he became Sun Wu's father. The three sons of Chen Wuyu all gained considerable experience as battle commanders, in addition to their political seasoning.

The second son, Chen Qi, was the most adept of the three at political intrigue; he was the one his father and grandfather relied on for realizing their plans to seize power in Qi. Since ancient times those who have lusted after power typically have been ruthless -- they have cared nothing for bonds or relationships -- so we can imagine how fragile the family ties of these three Chen brothers must have been.

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Table of Contents

Preface 11
A Note on the Translation and Pronunciation 21
Chronology of Approximate Dynastic Periods 25
General Introduction and Historical Background 29
Introduction 77
The Art of War in Translation 163
1 Initial Estimations 165
2 Waging War 171
3 Planning Offensives 175
4 Military Disposition 181
5 Strategic Military Power 185
6 Vacuity and Substance 189
7 Military Combat 195
8 Nine Changes 201
9 Maneuvering the Army 205
10 Configurations of Terrain 211
11 Nine Terrains 217
12 Incendiary Attacks 225
13 Employing Spies 229
Tomb Texts and Lost Writings 235
Notes to the General Introduction and Historical Background 249
Selected Notes to the Introduction 275
Notes to the Translation 301
Notes to the Tomb Texts and Lost Writings 331
Selected Bibliography 337
Glossary 351
Index 363
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 356 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(170)

4 Star

(80)

3 Star

(61)

2 Star

(18)

1 Star

(27)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 360 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    so Why so low a rating?

    This is an amazing book, but I don't want people to be deceived, it's dry. The driest martini in the world type of dry, the Sahara looks like a rain forest dry. It is meant to be educational and it is useful for creating your own philosophies and maybe a little bit useful in warfare (still great if you want to wage an ancient war). But not every reader that loves reading will understand why this is great. it is not an escape.

    13 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2007

    An excellent masterpiece!

    This is not merely a military or tactical manual - this is a book of pure wisdom. Sun Tzu was way ahead of his time in creating such an extraordinary guide to strategy and leadership, both in and out of combat. Read this book once, then read it again the advice and aphorisms that flow from it are infinite each time.

    12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2006

    Excellent Book

    This is a book full of wisdom and knowledge in the dealings of war. The concept of war can then be taken from the text and applied to all area of one's life. I have become a stronger individual after reading the book.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2007

    Deadly

    'Its not what you say but how you say it....' In The Art of War Sun Tzu explained how important dicipline must be heard.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 21, 2010

    Not Just for Planning Battles, But for Living Life As Well

    While originally thought to be a manual for making and winning wars and battles, astute readers and practioners will find Sun Tzu's writing to be a way of living life. The priciaples of war ae there for certain but think, dig deeper and improve your life.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 26, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A masterpiece of info

    Sun Tzu and his book of knowledge was and is one of the greatest pieces of knowledge man has ever created. From war to the job his strategies are very applicable.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2009

    An Intellectually Stimulating Book!

    This book is a good tool for anyone to use in order to get ahead in any career.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2001

    A Must-Read

    My hockey team went on a retreat about 9 months ago. We were told that we would be uncofortable. Over the course of a few days, our coach opened up Sun Tzu's work to us. He focused on the Chinese word 'tao', which means 'the way'. Sun Tzu used it to refer to battle, we used it to refer to a battle on the ice rink. We made our own tao and used it throughout the season. This is just one small way the book can relate to other things than war.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2012

    The Art of War

    Excellent. A classic read.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 17, 2009

    Introduction of Sun Tzu the art of war

    Introduction

    Sun Tzu's strategy to war was more unique than any dynasty emperors. It consisted of spies, And even stealth attacks.

    Description and summary of main points
    The way sun Tzu's army was composed .It had very many consistent
    With nobody's army was. His army was very intelligent.
    Evaluation
    His army was very unique. with any he was a strategic genius.
    And is general was a master swordsman.

    Conclusion
    This book is very likeable if you can tolerate mythology
    And his commander Yao Shin was a smart man as well.

    Your final review
    This book was very good's liked a lot

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2005

    A Very Good Book

    I found myself reading into Military strategies and this book popped up. Well just to put it plain and simple this is a great book. I loved how it taught strategies not only for war but for leadership in any situation.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2011

    You have to read it! Not only does it change your out look on war but on life

    I thought that the book was very well written. I found that you have to attack from higher ground. Thats how it is in life and in war. I thought the book was very informational. It was written in a format that i could understand.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2014

    As a United States Marine who served in Iraq as a sniper, I stro

    As a United States Marine who served in Iraq as a sniper, I strongly recommend this book. Even though this book was written a long time ago this general knew what he was talking about this book has many philosophies that I enjoyed very much and even though I have not finished reading the book I am looking forward to reading the rest of it. For all those who love reading like I do take a read at this awesome book. I leave you all with this quote from the book. "Indirect tactics, efficiently applied, are inexhaustible as  Heaven and Earth, unending as the flow of rivers and streams; like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew; like the four season, they pass away to return once more". 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2013

    Amazing knowledge & wisdom on war tactics. Sun Tzu wrote &am

    Amazing knowledge & wisdom on war tactics. Sun Tzu wrote & others observed these writing throughougt history. Sun Tzu wrote it's is better not to fight than to be involved in a conflict, but if you are going to have to fight, have your strategy and plan in place.
    I agree with this good summary of the lessons:
    "When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move."
    "In conflict, straightforward actions generally lead to engagement, surprising actions generally lead to victory."
    "Thus those skilled in war subdue the enemy's army without battle .... They conquer by strategy."
    "Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy, but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril."
    "In war, numbers alone confer no advantage."
    "To ... not prepare is the greatest of crimes; to be prepared beforehand for any contingency is the greatest of virtues."
    "What is of the greatest importance in war is extraordinary speed: One cannot afford to neglect opportunity." 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2012

    The Art of War has in recent decades been applied to such modern

    The Art of War has in recent decades been applied to such modern day problems as politics and business - really anything where conflict can surface. It was also suggested reading during my entire time in business school. So, I finally pulled the trigger and read the "original" (or at least the most well-regarded translation) The Art of War. The most impressive thing to me (which is explained in the introductory material) is how well the Chinese recorded their history. My only complaint about the introductory materials was that most great Chinese historical figures have multiple names - this makes it hard to track who is who in some of the commentaries. The actual strategies themselves are full of guidelines on determining your opponent's weaknesses, exploiting them and achieving victory. Not exactly full of moral or ethical advice, so I can't use much of it. I'm glad that I read it as it gave me a great look into Chinese history...but its practical use in my world is limited.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2011

    Awesome book for learning quick facts.

    This book was cool. If you are creative enough you can apply this stuff to modern opposition in life. The only reason I didn't give it 5 is because some people might have trouble with the old references to war. Although it's still relative today, it might be a slow read in some spots. I just read an amazing book like this but for leadership and it has amazing references to life. Very similar. If you loved this book like I did then you will absolutely love the book "Don't Follow Me I'm The Leader". These style of books are so helpful... Good Luck & Happy Reading!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2014

    Returned Book

    I ordered this book just to increase my total cost so that I could get free shipping. When I flipped through it, I saw that it was basically an ancient guide to war tactics. Way too dry for me!

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  • Posted June 9, 2014

    Elegant and applicable

    The Art of War was recommended by several colleagues....so glad I took the short time to read it!!! It truly transcends time.

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  • Posted May 15, 2014

    Super good

    Super good

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2014

    IMPORTANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE READ!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Fooled Ya.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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