If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle....
These are the words of ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu, whose now-classic treatise, The Art of War, was written more than 2,500 years ago. Originally a text for victory on the battlefield, the book has vastly transcended its original purpose.
Here is a seminal work on the philosophy of successful leadership that is as applicable to contemporary business as it is to war. Today many leading American business schools use the text as required reading for aspiring managers, and even Oliver Stone's award-winning film Wall Street cites The Art of War as a guide to those who strive for success.
Now acclaimed novelist James Clavell, for whom Sun Tzu's writing has been an inspiration, gives us a newly edited Art of War. Author of the best-selling Asian saga consisting of Shogun, Tai-Pan, Gai-jin, King Rat, Noble House, and Whirlwind, Clavell first heard about Sun Tzu in Hong Kong in 1977, and since then The Art Of War has been his constant companion--he refers to it frequently in Noble House. He has taken a 1910 translation of the book and clarified it for the contemporary reader. This new edition of The Art Of War is an extraordinary book made even more relevant by an extraordinary editor.Goodreads Summary: "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle....
I'm not sure why I've spent so many years wanting to read this book, but I have. You wouldn't believe how excited I was when a friend snatched up a copy for me while we were at the library book sale. I might have squealed a bit. (It's okay, I was surrounded by fellow book lovers who were highly amused by the entire exchange.)
Despite the fact that the book is less than a hundred pages I didn't read it in a single sitting as I had planned; not because I wasn't enjoying the book but because it felt like the type of read that I needed to peruse slowly so that everything I read would actually sink in.
I think what I liked the most about the book was that it was composed primarily of common sense. If you, as a general, do A then B is the likely result. What I liked even more is that the knowledge provided within the text can apply to so much more than leading an army into war (or out of war as the case may be). Quite possibly why classics such as this last so long, because they're just as applicable now as when they were originally written.
The text itself is quite easy to read, and as I said made up of what comes down to common sense (though some of it is only obviously common sense after having read it and seeing the logic of it) with illustrative stories explaining the benefits (or the consequences) of going against the advice. Overall I really enjoyed reading it and I definitely think that it is one of those classics that is still very relevant to our lives today.
3.5 / 5