The Art Of War
People know little of Sun-Tzu (Sunzi) or Master Sun. He came from the North-Eastern state of Qi (present day Shandong province). He may have been an adviser to the king of the southern state of Wu (present day Zhejiang) toward the end of the 6th century BC. But he barely mentioned in contemporary records. It is not clear if such a person existed. It is impossible to say who wrote the short treatise attributed to him, as The Art of War.
One might think that ancient techniques have no place in today’s warfare but that’s not true. Most of the content of this book is very much relevant in today’s world. Sun-Tzu insists on more than one occasion that ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle but in defeating the enemy without ever fighting. The wars are fought not in this way now. They fight through espionage, regime changes, foreign funding in propaganda etc. Other than war it offers infinite applications… even in our daily lives, on relationships, on conquering opposition, on politics and much more. The strategic advice it offers is relevant to more than that of the conduct of war. It’s a book full of wisdom, it’s a book of life.
For me it is always fascinating when historical findings come to light. To read and know how life was in those times… how people used to think and interact. Ancient Chinese thinkers did not write books. They jotted down sayings, verses, stories and thoughts on the third century essays in bamboo strips. The strips were tied together in sheets and rolled up in scrolls. The Art of War is such a roll or series of rolls, of bamboo strips.
The first part of the book comprises of a collection of military and miscellaneous sayings. Maxims wrote in epigrammatic prose style as well. The second part is running commentary of these points, elaborating with reference to certain wars.
The Art Of War is a must read book for all. Once you start reading, it will surprise you as how relatable these points are to our lives. It’s inspiring, illuminating and of use for all.
I totally recommend it.