Aug 142012


Legend has it that The Art Of War was written some 2,500 years during Ancient China’s Zhou Dynasty by general, strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu. The book is a collection of military stratagem and thought here translated by Lionel Giles at the dawn of the twentieth Century, which is considered one of the more authoritative translations of the tome.
The Art Of War is a book of ancient battle and warfare, but when considered allegorically is read for its teachings and implication in management, corporate strategy and personal conflict. The Art Of War advises generals to know their own force, know the enemy and calculate odds of winning based on multiple factors. War should only be waged when the conditions are right and conducive to victory. The book itself is 2,500 years old and the translation is over a century old hence the arcane language and the references to measurements, persons and tools that are even more so, but it would be an understatement to say that The Art Of War has aged well. The book has been cited by modern generals, read widely in Japan, United States and modern China and even referenced in the original Wall Street film. The book is also referenced in the Connery/Snipes Tokyo connection film, Rising Sun. Quotations from the book appear on banners in Kurosawa’s Kagemusha. It likely influenced Musashi Miyamoto’s The Book Of Five Rings.

It is manifest to any practical and minimally observant individual that while humanity has made tremendous technological strides in the last 2,500 years, the same cannot be said of the advancement in philosophy, thought and logic. Indeed, it could be argued that humanity has walked backwards in philosophy and rational thinking. An ancient man would be shocked and beguiled with modern technology. Barely a living man could match ancient thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Cyrus, Cicero or Yoga in philosophy, logic and debate.

This edition of The Art Of War is just past fifty pages long and is concise in that only the text itself is presented without introduction, preface or foot notes.

An acquaintance shared the below adaptation from the History Channel