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Book review: The Art of War by Sun Tzu

The Art of WarThe Art of War by Sun Tzu

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I've often heard this ancient text referenced in a business context. Sun Tzu's lessons about war are often applied to business strategy, competition, marketing, and leadership. Among the outdated, specific advice and observations about foot soldiers, weaponry, and terrain, Sun Tzu explains several timeless concepts about combat that can apply to business or personal life.

The main theme is to know yourself, know your army, and know your enemy. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of all parties, you'll be more likely to make decisions leading to victory. Tzu also recommends using deception whenever possible to confuse the enemy and take them by surprise. He doesn't declare fleeing from battle as cowardly, but as a practical alternative to fighting when the odds are against you.

Tzu stresses planning before moving and basing decisions on reason, not emotion. He says that the secret to an effective army is to strike a balance between humane treatment and discipline.

I didn't find the book revelatory or entertaining, but it was worth listening to simply because it's so commonly referred to. I listened to the The Art of War from LibriVox, translated by Lionel Giles.



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