Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

The Art of WarThe Art of War by Sun Tzu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have had The Art of War on my To-Read list for years. It is a classic book about wartime strategy, as well as ancient Chinese philosophy. This specific edition is not just an English translation of the ancient work, but also includes commentary from 4 or 5 other translators throughout the centuries, citing examples from the Moorish wars, French Revolution, and even World War 2.

I feel that the content was valuable, given the history, but it was a little hard to follow. At face value, much of it seemed contradictory. Don't go fight doomed battles. If you throw your troops into doomed battles, they will win because they are desperate. Use trickery to win to save lives and reduce the cost of war. But don't be tricked by your opponent. And the advice goes on.

The best thing about this version of the book were the examples. By hearing the stories of generals that endeavored to apply the lessons from this book it made them real, and it is easier to see how they might be applied. At the same time, even in those examples I see where the other side still could have won, so while this is good advice, it doesn't seem to me to explain the outcomes of battles as thoroughly as it claims to.