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The Art of War

Sun-Tzu

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ISBN 10: 0195015401 / ISBN 13: 9780195015409
Published by Oxford Univ Pr, 1963
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
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Small tears in dust jacket which is now in protective mylar. 197pp. Bookseller Inventory # 031968

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Art of War

Publisher: Oxford Univ Pr

Publication Date: 1963

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Good

About this title

Synopsis:

Written in China more than 2,000 years ago, Sun Tzu's classic The Art of War is the first known study of the planning and conduct of military operations. These terse, aphoristic essays are unsurpassed in comprehensiveness and depth of understanding, examining not only battlefield maneuvers, but also relevant economic, political, and psychological factors. Indeed, the precepts outlined by Sun Tzu can be applied outside the realm of military theory. It is read avidly by Japanese businessmen and in fact was touted in the movie Wall Street as the corporate raider's bible.
In addition to an excellent translation of Sun Tzu's text, Samuel Griffith also provides commentaries written by Chinese strategists, plus several thought-provoking essays on topics such as the influence of Sun Tzu on Mao Tse-tung and on Japanese military thought, the nature of warfare in Sun Tzu's time, and the life of Sun Tzu and other important commentators. Remarkable for its clear organization, lucid prose, and the acuity of its intellectual and moral insights, The Art of War is the definitive study of combat.

Review:

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

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