Sun Tzu: The Art of War is translated by Samuel B. Griffith. This short book is a long read about some Chinese history and a translation of military knowledge by Sun Tzu. To begin with, we find out that a majority of the history is educated assumptions. The winner in battle writes the history so keep in mind when reading the translation that what you are reading might not have been from Sun Tzu.
Warfare is Deception
Firstly, all warfare is deception. If you are weak but you can make the enemy think you are strong, you can win. If you are close, make it seem like you are far away. Current events make me think of the war in Ukraine and Russia. Both countries want to seem strong and hide their weaknesses. Whoever is better at deception will fool the other and win.
Manage a Million Men
Secondly, how would you manage a million men? According to the book, by using the system of rank and groups of personnel, this is a matter of organization. This is the example in the text: people are part of squad, a section, a platoon, a company, a battalion, a regiment, a group, a brigade, and finally, an army. By using this system of rank and organization, you manage a million men. All of this knowledge, written down around 500 B.C.
Defending your reputation
Finally, a general who must always defend his reputation pays no regard to anything else. This, I thought, was valid and practical advice. If you can’t take criticism, you are too delicate, or too much of any emotion, it can be used against you. Keep in mind, the movies are not real and the compassionate leader does not always save the day. For this reason, the best general’s temper is even and doesn’t easily anger.
Sun Tzu The Art of War Summary
Overall, my recommendation on this text is to skip this book. There might be a better version out there with more context or better storytelling in it. However, this version of The Art of War is extremely dry for my taste. It was boring to read. Unless you have a passion for history in China, skip it.
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