Book Review - The Art of War by Sun Tzu

Shruti bhutani photography

The Art of War

by Sun Tzu

Book Review

The Art of War is a collection of teachings on warfare, military strategies and tactics. Sun Tzu, a Chinese general, strategist and philosopher, born in 544 BC, wrote about philosophy and politics of warfare. His teachings have helped many a wars around the globe over 25 centuries. The Art of War is a classic that gives you a sense of the Chinese culture, ancient military strategies, and history of combat over many centuries. Even after all this time, his book on military strategies is hitting the best selling charts, and his teachings are being used world wide, not only by historians but also millennial in their respective fields including business and legal.

The book is divided into 13 chapters on different aspects that lead up to a war; from charting a plan, to attacking, using resources, and maneuvering along the way. As you would expect, the military strategies are straight-forward, practical and harsh. The book gives a background on the refinement in the culture of East Asia, China to be specific. It ignites your curiosity to know more about the Chinese society, which is both urban and modest. In a way it applies to a lot of different regions and belief systems, but resonates most with the Asian philosophy. It may take a while for some readers to see beyond the written word. But once it makes sense, you will see the wisdom in Sun Tzu’s teachings, and will be able to see the cultural influence. The interesting thing about the book is, that it covers all fragments of a situation, which will fit into many modern scenarios.

The book is just 100 pages, but every word is impactful. It focuses on thriving and winning the war with all the possibilities accounted for. The only downside of the book I could find is the translation. I love reading books which were originally written in a foreign language, because the writer is able to express his best when he writes within his limits. However, most books lose their original meaning when translated. In this case this is not unusual; the historians believe that this is due to our lack of understanding of the East Asian perspective. The philosophy taught in this book is comprehended best in harmony with the Taoism school of thought, which focuses on compassion, frugality and humility, followed by many in China. It will take a few reads for you to really understand the context, or maybe faster if you are familiar with Taoism. The book is not a one time read, which is good because it is just a few pages long anyways.

Additionally, I learned some interesting stories associated with this book. Sun Tzu had written The Art of War originally on bamboo slips. If the history of China is to be believed, the Art of War is one of the rare works to have survived many obstacles itself, including the book burning under the Qin dynasty of the ancient China. The original well-preserved bamboo slip edition was accidentally uncovered in 1972, by a group of construction workers in one of the coastal regions of China. Dating back to 5th century AD, The Art of War is considered a timeless classic on the philosophy of war, which has been translated in many different languages over the years.

Final Thoughts

I found the book The Art of War and Sun Tzu’s teachings very intriguing, yet contradicting at times, which could be due to my lack of knowledge of the Chinese culture. This only pushes me further to read more about the different Asian philosophies. The ancient military strategies in this book are meant to help in the modern age era.

Genre Non-Fiction, Classic
Price Rs 99
Pages 100 pages
Format Paperback
Publisher Finger Print

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Love & Peace


Popular posts from this blog

Book Review - The Yard

Book Review - When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Book Reviews - Tea Time Stories by Sudha Murty