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Review: The Art of War by Sun Tzu

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The Art of War is one of the most influential pieces of work in history. It dates back to 5th century, BC. It was written by a chinese general Sun Tzu or »Master Sun«. It hasn’t been translated into another language until 1772, when France wanted to know what was the fuss about.

Sun Tzu divided the book into three chapters, which were thematically connected. He talks about conflict and how to deal with it. He introduces different ideas, such as the war, which stands for any kind of war and players in this war, how to play this game if you want to win. It’s very analytical and we can see, that the writer dedicated a lot of critical thinking to message his thoughts as clearly as possible.

This is a great documentary about the book.

His first chapter of the this book explains the planning before the war, what is it that you have to take care of. He provides us with different factors, which have to be deeply considered before entering a war. It’s an advice on how to prepare yourself before it’s too late. There is a certain value, which is being hinted at here- cautiousness. He goes on to explain that winning in particular moments quickly is vital for success and he provides his definition of the best army. He defines it as a unit, where the number of soldiers is not as important as factors inside the army, which contribute to the strength of the army. These factors are Attack, Strategy, Alliances, Army and Cities. If all of these factors are covered, it’s time to attack.

The main focus of the rest of the book is with the army. Sun Tzu finds the army the most important aspect of the war, where you can’t just have a big army and hope for the best. He also points out that even if your army is great and powerful, you have to know the opponent’s army as well. If you don’t, you might as well have a lousy army. Know your opponent means that you know, when the best time to strike him is. Without that information, it’s like running into a battle blindfolded.

The famous general also focused on the ground of the battle- he didn’t leave out any room for mistake. Back in his time, the locations of battles were important, because they had no other technology, they had to rely on their environment and use it to their benefit. He ends the book by emphasizing the final attack and getting good sources of information in different ways.

He describes the entire process of battling and the thought process behind it. It’s easy to understand, why it had such influence and it still holds up to this day. Back when it was first released, the provided knowledge was very practical in wars, but it didn’t stop there. People have figured out that this book works on different levels. You can use it for war, yes- but it can also be interpreted as a guide to live your life. And not just in those ancient times, it is really helpful today, too. People haven’t changed that much and all of the presented principles stay true to this day. They apply on several different levels in our relationships at work, with our enemies or anytime when a conflict might happen. Avoiding the conflict in the right way is just one of the lessons you can take away from the book.

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