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The Art of War
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Product Description

The Art of War is the Swiss army knife of military theory--pop out a different tool for any situation. Folded into this small package are compact views on resourcefulness, momentum, cunning, the profit motive, flexibility, integrity, secrecy, speed, positioning, surprise, deception, manipulation, responsibility, and practicality. Thomas Cleary's translation keeps the package tight, with crisp language and short sections. Commentaries from the Chinese tradition trail Sun-tzu's words, elaborating and picking up on puzzling lines. Take the solitary passage: "Do not eat food for their soldiers." Elsewhere, Sun-tzu has told us to plunder the enemy's stores, but now we're not supposed to eat the food? The Tang dynasty commentator Du Mu solves the puzzle nicely, "If the enemy suddenly abandons their food supplies, they should be tested first before eating, lest they be poisoned." Most passages, however, are the pinnacle of succinct clarity: "Lure them in with the prospect of gain, take them by confusion" or "Invincibility is in oneself, vulnerability is in the opponent." Sun-tzu's maxims are widely applicable beyond the military because they speak directly to the exigencies of survival. Your new tools will serve you well, but don't flaunt them. Remember Sun-tzu's advice: "Though effective, appear to be ineffective." --Brian Bruya

Written in China over two thousand years ago, Sun Tzu's The Art of War provides the first known attempt to formulate a rational basis for the planning and conduct of military operations. These wise, aphoristic essays contain principles acted upon by such twentieth-century Chinese generals as Mao Tse Tung. Samuel Griffith offers a much-needed translation of this classic which makes it even more relevant to the modern world. Including an explanatory introduction and selected commentaries on the work, this edition makes Sun Tzu's timeless classic extremely accessible to students of Chinese history and culture, as well as to anyone interested in the highly volatile military and political issues in present-day China.

Customer Reviews:

  • A Good Read
    I'm not really a student of military tactics, so I can't judge this work on those merits. From what I understand from the other reviews, and from the ravings of enthusiasts that I have heard, this book is one of the more important books covering the topic. This particular edition was interesting to me because there were a few examples of various applications of Sun Tzu's writings in actual battles from Stonewall Jackson to Hannibal given in the form of notes (I assume by Giles). Since I am more interested in historical events, than in strategy, this helped me understand the fine prose of the writer, even if I am not quite able to apply any of his "art" to my everyday life. I'm certain that a student of strategy would appreciate this work, as would people who are interested in Chinese history. I fail to see how it could be applicable to a corporate environment, but once again, that's not really my forte. I did love the concise method of the author, the easy to follow philosophies intertwined with the codified systems, and the colorful grace in which the subject was handled. The Introduction to this edition was also most insightful, and gives the reader an idea of what kind of man the author was....more info
  • Now how is this book going to help me in the 21st century?
    My review title says it all. Yeah it's a good and even famous book. But how does this book apply to our current age? Should we pick a nice open field when meeting tough customers just to gain advantage on the terrain?

    This book should be read without judgement. Just breathe in all wisdom the ancient Sun Tzu has given us. Don't expect instant knowledge, but read this book over and over again and you will get the clue.

    Sun Tzu's writings hold a vast knowledge on tactics that still apply today, although we throw e-mails to each other instead of spears. You'll learn to recognize his tactics within your own situation. Use them how you seem fit. I even applied it on strategy games and it seemed to me I had an advantage with his knowledge. Even in business we can still 'pick the ground' although it could be a good restaurant instead of hills.

    Does this book apply to the 21st century? Definitly!...more info
  • Amazong book; Great translation
    A great book, for anyone who is interested in the art of strategy war combat. A great translation, some mildly confusing phrases, but easily rectified. Highly recommend this version....more info
  • My first purchase book review
    The Art of War by Sun Tzu is an excellent book especially for those people who are in the military or law enforcement. The language of the book refers to ancient and not modern times. Based on my readings the author seems to be an aggressor, since in modern times we strive for peace and not war-like in the ancient times....more info
  • Not an instruction book for ass-whoopin'
    It is interesting to note that all of the readers see this as a text on war, and how to beat your enemies. The first part of the book should be a leson to all of the war-mongers out there, that is If You Go To War You Have Already Lost. The consequences to your own people and soldiers and even the land must be counted for years after the battle is done. Sun-Tzu explains this well, and proceeds to explain how to wage a war causing the minimum amount of damage and suffering....more info
  • The art of war
    This book will provide you the knowledge to declare war on Amazon - against a corporation who has chosen to silently and stupidly to censore the offerings online. They will not sell books that they deem as perceived 'gay' works. Welcome to Am-carthy-son.
    ...more info
  • Classic on the priciples of war
    This ancient classic of 13 chapters was written over 2,500 years ago by the legendary Chinese general Sun Tzu. It is a must have for military buffs that enjoy reading about the tactics of the most succesful generals. It is rumored that Napoleon used a French translation of the Art of War to his advantage while conquering most of Europe, and he lost when he broke its principles.
    The principles that are with in this ancient text can also be used in games of strategy, business conflicts, and the day to day battles of life.
    Here are ten principles to give you a sample of the wisdom found in its pages:

    Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance with out fighting.

    If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.

    Spies are the most important element in war, because upon them depends an army's ability to move.

    All warfare is based on deception.

    The general who wins a battle makes many calculations before the battle is fought.

    There is no instance of a country having benefited from a prolonged war.

    The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals.

    In war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.

    When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. (So they can retreat).

    Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained, fight not unless the position is critical.

    Taken as a whole this is a book of wisdom and principles on how to win. I rank it in my top ten books I have ever read. It is a must have for any home library. The is a very small book that is quick and easy to read.
    ...more info
  • Classic Chinese Strategy Guide Applicable To Coaches!
    Many of you might be thinking, "Why in the world would I need an ancient Chinese Military Classic on my bookshelf?"

    When a friend of mine suggested that I purchase this book, I asked myself that exact question. None-the-less I purchased the book and almost 100 pages later (because the entire book is just about 100 pages) I understood exactly why he had suggested it.

    This treatise has applications reaching far beyond battle field ethics and strategy. For me, replacing the word "enemy" with "opponent" converts the book into a strategical synopsis for the field of sport. Sun Tzu lays out the ways and means to manage teams of people in straight forward simple language. This application reaches into politics, business, sport, and any managerial position.

    I highly recommend this short, but critical read to anyone in a position of people management. This book will make you think about the strategies that you use in the command posts of your life. ...more info
  • Introductory material is not so introductory
    At the outset, let me say that Sun Tzu gets 5 stars. Having withstood at least two millennia, his thirteen chapters of warlike proverbs are beyond any reproach I can provide.

    I'm giving two stars to this book's introductory material. If I was more familiar with Chinese history, then perhaps I would have appreciated the introductory material more. Unfortunately, the introduction's academic pitch was oftentimes beyond my reach. I picked this book up hoping to read a great Chinese work placed accessibly within historical context. In the end, I can say that I have read Sun Tzu, but I still can't put him into context. ...more info
  • the art of war rocks
    This book is good for stratagizing. Good for chest player...more info
  • The Illustrated Art of War
    See "The Illustrated Art of War" ISBN 978-19518999X published in 2005. The same translator (Samuel B Griffith) and the same publisher (Oxford University Press) but in a hardcover edition with illustrations....more info
  • The Optimistic Jew
    B.H. Liddell Hart's favorite military thinker even though he lived 2,000 years earlier. Like Liddell Hart his thought transcends the military sphere and influenced me in my writing of "The Optimistic Jew". Worthwhile reading even today.



    ...more info
  • This bare-bones version is a bargain.
    Sun Tzu's masterpiece, "The Art of War" is one of the most important books ever written. For the price, this bare-bones version is a bargain.

    You should note, however, that this is more of a booklet than a book. There is little to recommend this particular edition. The details, the subtle shades of meaning and the historical context, are left unexplained. If this is to be your only copy of Sun Tzu, you are going to miss out on a lot of the important details.

    A better choice is "The Art of War by Sun Tzu - Special Edition" that contains two versions of the Giles' translation in one book: both a plain vanilla version and the complete version which includes a comprehensive introduction and a detailed running commentary....more info
  • Cool...
    It is common knowledge that you cannot become a great warrior without mastering this work. There is combat in all aspects of life - from work to family and even when playing games. Its true that winning isnt everything, but of course losing is nothing. I read this because I want to be a trial lawyer and thought it would be fun to try to draw analogies between Sun-Tzu advice on the battlefield and that of the courtroom. It was surprisingly easy to do so. The snippets of wisdom can easily apply to other situations - much the same as how a horoscope can apply to any and all Capricorn's or Leo's. The general wording allows the reading to twist the advice to fit into their own life situation. I'm not sure that the reader truly learns any strategies they would not already know - but I found that reading this book puts the reader in a state of mind for combat and that in itself can be the path to victory.


    Relic113

    ...more info
  • great carry book
    the Shambhala pocket classics are perfect pocket sized books to take along with one on every day excursions. they provide immense inspiration every time....more info
  • translation
    Book was in excellent condition. Arrived in record time.
    We need a translator to flesh out what the original author meant. We have different cultures. Although the text is translated to English the meaning of the text is difficult in interpret.

    I have ordered the library copy.
    I do not recommend this edition. Order a different one....more info
  • A well thought out treatise, all in a little book
    A very good treatise on the Taoist perspective on war. It carries so many parallels to today's modern combat, and is required reading in Asian businesses and for Asian military officers, especially the Chinese People's Liberation Army. It's a fairly easy read and very good to understand as well. Compare it to the Machiavelli book of the same name and you'd see a stark contrast to it. Recommended for those who want to learn what would be good military strategy and tactics, especially if those support a military with greater autonomy than many countries have now....more info
  • outstanding
    I can not speak intelligently about the quality of this translation. Given the accuracy of translation / I found that this was a brilliant summary of tactics used in ground warfare in China several thousand years ago. Still poignant today across battlefields. It does not of course include ana/lysis of naval and air and ground technological advances. Excellent reading and it comes highly recommended....more info
  • Product is good, material is stupid
    I am kind of torn on how many stars to give this as the product itself (the audio book) is great, but the actual content is retarded. Sun Tzu spouts off a bunch of useless crap like:

    "If you march fifty LI in order to outmaneuver the enemy, you will lose the leader of your first division, and only half your force will reach the goal. If you march thirty LI with the same object, two-thirds of your army will arrive."

    Thank you Sun Tzu, for summarizing war into neat little equations for us:

    Function for computing losses during outmaneuver operation: F(x) = (if x = 50 then 1 leader and 0.50 of force else if x = 0.333 then 0.6667 of force)...more info
  • Better than no version at all
    Have you noticed that this version of Sun Tzu's masterpiece is only 96 pages long? And, part of that is an introduction. Granted, Sun Tzu was a man of few words - marvelously succinct. The only problem was that he spoke those few words 2,500 years ago. The world was a much different place then than it is now. Anyone who thinks that they can really understand a naked translation of an ancient Chinese document is either a scholar who is an expert in ancient Chinese culture or a complete dolt.

    If you are really interested in understanding Sun Tzu's great work, rather than posturing with a cheap prop, you should get a decent copy that contains detailed explanations along with the translation. The best version available is the Special Edition that contains two complete translations, one without commentary and another fully commented and annotated in the same book. Of course it costs nearly three times more than this version, but it also has nearly three times as many pages and much more information.

    That is not to say that this is an unacceptable version Sun Tzu's "Art of War". Rather, it probably isn't the best choice. Even a puny version of this important work is better than no version at all....more info
  • The Oldest Treatise on Game Theory
    There are many translations of this work which has long been in the public domain. This is the popular translation by Lionel Giles made even more popular by the introduction from the best-selling author of Japan epics, James Clavell. It contains Giles' commentary along with the translation. The annotations give historical examples of the strategies in action.

    Game theory is calculated strategy. The Art of War by Sun Tzu is probably the oldest and most important book on game theory ever written. It is the culmination of the development of the best warfare tactics prior to the 5th century BC. It is considered the foundation for all military plans and is still used to this day. It is most popular for its ability to win wars without fighting one. Its application has shaped the world as we know it.

    The Art of War can be understood as a breakdown of the chaos of warfare into components that can be analyzed and understood. The tactics are mostly about controlled organization, recognizing environments and situations and the correct response to each one. Organization is subject to change in competition. The Art of War is essentially the strategy of responding to changing environments. Response is thus relative to evolving conditions.

    1 - "Laying Plans"
    The core message of this chapter is to calculate as much as possible before committing yourself. Important themes include discipline, ethics, environmental conditions and assessing the competition. It's about setting up the mission and evaluating the competition.

    2 - "Waging War"
    The important detail of this chapter is to win as quickly and as economically as possible. Prolonged struggle means wasting resources and undermining confidence. When winning, use the spoils as rewards and capital. It's about making war pay.

    3 - "Attack by Stratagem"
    This chapter is about deployment of the previous two chapters. The central message is to know thyself and know thy enemy. This stage indicates problems such as sieges, bad management and interior anarchy or legal/government interference. Advantages such as good management, exploiting opportunities and attacking tactics are covered. Strength is about cohesiveness and is independent of size.

    4 - "Tactical Dispositions"
    This one stresses putting yourself in a position where you cannot be defeated and waiting for the opportunity to defeat the enemy. It is about recognizing the breaks and taking them as opposed to creating the breaks.

    5 - "Energy"
    This part focuses on the power of deception to lull the enemy into a false sense of security and the use of spies to learn the enemy's moves. It also stresses the need to evolve in battle. It's about building up war capability.

    6 - "Weak Points and Strong"
    This chapter encapsulates all the previous five chapters into an advanced war strategy producing outcomes, calculating and responding to events as they unfold. The strategies are developed here. It is about creating breaks.

    7 - "Maneuvering"
    This deals with managing units and the internal problems they face on top of how to respond during movement to various circumstances. It is a chapter based on types of situations and responses.

    8 - "Variation of tactics"
    This section expands on the evolution of tactics and strategies based on situations and responses but concentrates on what causes failure.

    9 - "The Army on the March"
    This is advanced maneuvering especially across long distances with different terrains and how to deal with encounters. It is about interpretation.

    10 - "Terrain"
    This describes the various terrains that an army can encounter and when and how to occupy them. It talks about distances, potential dangers and obstructions. Positioning is important.

    11 - "The Nine Situations"
    This piece explains the condition of each terrain in terms of its tactical advantages and disadvantages and how to deal with both. It is a very intensive chapter because of the number of complex conditions dealt with.

    12 - "The Attack by Fire"
    Arson in war is probably the single most troubling weapon that an army could have inflicted on the enemy around 500 BC. This chapter is obviously based on the most advanced weapons of the time which have since been developed. It is about using the principle of creating disorder and chaos to win.

    13 - "The Use of Spies"
    Without spies don't war. War is won based on foreknowledge not by calculation but by direct information about the plans of the other side from spies. Spies are managed in this chapter.

    Even though the work is quite short (about 100 pages or less with commentary) it is complex enough to warrant several readings. It is the equivalent to learning how to play advanced chess, a game which compliments this study. There is a lifetime of thought within the pages. Napoleon was said to have used it and lost when he didn't follow it.

    The Art of War has become one of the most important self help books of this century popularized in big business as many executives have had recourse to this material because it offers a sound winning strategy. Most readers come away believing that the book's message finds it adaptable to many environments because it is all about adjusting to variations and so can be applied to anything and everything.

    The Art of War is not supposed to be an exciting read. It is a strategy book, a step by step guide to how battles are won and why they are lost. It is more to be memorized as a set of responses, including when not to respond, than to be understood. The combinations of the responses are unlimited. There is enough on the plate without asking why. Understanding why would come later and the answers to these questions would come from a very sophisticated understanding of the theory. It is an endeavor that remains open to the reader if they can come to terms first with the information that is here.

    Even if the book is not followed up on by subsequent study it can still leave a long lasting impression with its tips on discipline and achieving goals. It is great value for the amount of information contained in such a short burst. It will get you thinking strategically and that is more or less its claim to fame. ...more info
  • The Art of War
    In any edition, this book is a classic must read for young people entering the workforce.

    It is unfortunate that the concept of war itself seems to be a necessary evil that is not going away soon.

    The military strategy, politics and leadership in this book can be used as a tool to manage your career.
    To achieve goals.

    By using logic, focus, preparedness, timing and thinking, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.
    The book helps you think of ways to win....more info
  • Essential Read
    These are the thoughts of a wise man. It is well presented and well organized. Sun Tzu may have alluded to war, but is talking about many facets of life in general. Reading this book will help prepare almost anyone for whatever "battles" they may have to fight in daily life....more info
  • Strategic Classic
    This is simply a very important book in the scholarship of military and political strategy. It is required reading for generals and other military commanders (as well as leaders involved in strategic and tactical decisionmaking).

    Over 2,000 years old, written in the context of widespread feudal warfare in ancient China, it was written to provide useful advice to the political and military commander/prince. In this way, it is similar to Machiavelli's The Prince (also a very important book on military and political affairs in a highly contentious environment) - a multi-polar environment.

    Sun Tzu's The Art of War is a serious book for the serious student of political science, strategic thinking, and military and political strategic and tactical decision making.

    It may seem to some to be a book of aphorisms or "lessons" - which may appear to some to be trite, and many people have tried to show the import of its lessons in the context of business management in terms of the competition of firms - lessons which may be applicable and relevant.

    However, if you want to study strategy (as it relates to any context: military, political, business, etc.) - this is simply required reading, and careful and considered reading of it, will reward the reader. Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-Tung) and other Chinese leaders have read it, used the lessons contained in it, added and expanded upon it, and thus - at the least - is the foundation of modern Chinese strategic thinking....more info
  • Timeless Wisdom
    As others have noted some of the tactical advice is thousands of years out of date, but the vision of strategic issues is still very relevant. This edition is well written and an easy read.

    It does not take an interest in the military to make this a great read.
    It is also a great read for anyone interested in politics and will help one to understand the antics of folks like James Carville.

    Sun Tzu is also the foundation of much of the work of Col John Boyd that has had such a major impact on the current military.

    A reader of Sun Tzu might have a very different take on why there has not been a massive terrorist attack on America after 9-11. One of his basic principles is to separate the population from the enemy leadership. Clearly 9-11 connected the leaders with the population. The absence of an attack has allowed the anti-war movement space to become effective.

    Knowledge of Sun Tzu is most helpful in understanding a major force on current world leaders from Chinese leadership Muslim fundamentalists. ...more info
  • Philosophy of Strategy - not tactics
    Understand this: Sun Tzu is not going to actually give you military theory here.

    This is a book about principles, not tactics. "Strike when your enemy is weak", "It is possible to win the war and lose the kingdom" and other such bits of advice are scattered (and repeated) throughout.

    If you're expecting advice on actually how to move your troops, you'll be disappointed. If you're wanting advice on the principles needed to actively construct a strategy to win - in war, business, or any situatino - then you've come to the right place....more info
  • Classic on the priciples of war
    This ancient classic of 13 chapters was written over 2,500 years ago by the legendary Chinese general Sun Tzu. It is a must have for military buffs that enjoy reading about the tactics of the most succesful generals. It is rumored that Napoleon used a French translation of the Art of War to his advantage while conquering most of Europe, and he lost when he broke its principles.
    The principles that are with in this ancient text can also be used in games of strategy, business conflicts, and the day to day battles of life.
    Here are ten principles to give you a sample of the wisdom found in its pages:

    Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance with out fighting.

    If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.

    Spies are the most important element in war, because upon them depends an army's ability to move.

    All warfare is based on deception.

    The general who wins a battle makes many calculations before the battle is fought.

    There is no instance of a country having benefited from a prolonged war.

    The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals.

    In war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.

    When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. (So they can retreat).

    Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained, fight not unless the position is critical.

    Taken as a whole this is a book of wisdom and principles on how to win. I rank it in my top ten books I have ever read. It is a must have for any home library. The is a very small book that is quick and easy to read.
    ...more info
  • I was surprised by how short this book is
    This is worth reading for historical value.

    This particular book has a lengthy introduction that focuses on the history of Chinese warfare, and actually takes up most of the book.

    This is a 99 page book, and the Sun Tzu's text is actually only in pages 40-99. The rest is the introduction that I mentioned.

    The introduction is very mediocre. It reminds me of if you were to type "Chinese Warfare" into google, and read the first page that comes up. It's probably going to be good, but you're probably better off buying an actual book about it.

    This book is short enough that you can read the 40 pages of text just going to the library. I wouldn't buy it unless you really want to study it.

    I bought this book because I heard that it has applications to business. There really aren't any direct applications to business. This is a book written to a general of a Chinese army on how to win a battle.

    I'm sure that you can draw inferences to anything from business to scrapbooking, out of it, though. For me, all I think it did was improve my Age of Empires game....more info
  • The Art of War
    I ordered 3 copies and so far have only received one.

    Please expedite....more info
  • Human Nature
    The reason this book is a timeless classic is because it analyzes all aspects of war from the standpoint of human nature, and makes a solid case that any endeavor that fails to take into account human nature is doomed to failure. Because the subject is warfare, including its causes, and the analysis is solid, one is left with not only the first order result (how to handle a war situation effectively) but also a life changing understanding of the humbling constraints of human existence and the pragmatics of applied psychology. Anyone who is bored by this book (and this particular one is excellent) is not yet ready to learn basic lessons about human existence. Anyone who is capable of humility will be changed by this book. It should be read by everyone, several times throughout life....more info
  • Required reading at many military colleges around the world
    Written in approximately 470 BC, The Art of War is a Taoist treatise on martial and political philosophy ... one of the most famous ever written, and one of the most often quoted. The fact that it is still popular and well quoted, after more than 2,000 years, should say something about its timeless qualities.

    It's composed as a list of terse, keen and ingenious observations, sayings, and maxims ... with various translators over the centuries each adding their own interpretations and commentary. There's something on almost every topic ... from siege planning, use of formations & maneuvering, the virtues of adaptability and cunning, speed, the use of positioning & terrain, disinformation and the use of spies, etc.

    The author's advice spans both low level tactics ["do not stop an army on its way home" {Brad: because they'll be more likely to fight to the death} ... "a surrounded army must be given a way out" {Brad: channel their retreat into a killing zone of your own creation}] ... and high level strategic thinking ["a superior militarist foils enemy plots without the need to fight; the next best {strategy} is to ruin their alliances; next {best strategy} after that is to attack their armed forces; worst {strategy} is to beseige their cities"]

    It's required reading at many military colleges around the world.
    ...more info
  • Be careful of the black cover edition!!!
    I noticed that my review for The Art of War by Sun Tzu - Special Edition is now showing up on another edition of The Art of War, one with a black cover. If you are looking at the black cover edition of The Art of War, then THIS IS NOT THE EDITION THE REVIEWS ARE REFERRING TO. The Special Edition version has an orange cover. If you notice the publication date for the black cover edition, it is May of 2007. My review was done last year. I am a student of Sun Tzu's teachings, and I would not want my review (as well as many other fans of the book) to be mis-used on a book I have not read....more info