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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 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...
Published on April 11 2005 by Joe Breed

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3.0 out of 5 stars Art of war falls short of expectations
The Art of War is a timeless classic written by a Chinese expert on war. Its principles can be applied to a wide variety of subjects and can be interpreted in a vast array of contexts. However, as musc as the book is praised and "hyped" it really fell short of my expectations. It is not a "Bible" of life, ie. rules to live by for success, but rather a...
Published on May 30 2002 by George Thomas Miller III


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not an instruction book for ass-whoopin', April 11 2005
By 
Joe Breed (Mississauga, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Art of War (Paperback)
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ageless art, July 7 2004
By 
D. Roberts "Hadrian12" (Battle Creek, Michigan United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Art of War (Paperback)
One would intuitively think that any book on war written thousands of years ago would long-since be rendered obsolete by all the technological advances in warfare that have occured over the past few centuries. Not so, says Sun Tzu. The present text is perhaps even more relevant today than when the master put pen to scribe.
The best generals throughout history (Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Napoleon, Lee, Patton) have all either innately grasped the lessons of this book, or they have learned by reading from the master. The worst generals, on the other hand (Nicias, Crassus, Hooker, Burnside) have been oblivious to Sun Tzu's teachings - and more often than not they paid dearly for their shortcomings.
Much of THE ART OF WAR is straightforward. Some of it even falls under the category of common sense. Amazingly, even the most rudimentary instructions have been ignored by military leaders down through the ages.
If, perhaps, there is one single "golden" rule of warfare that Sun Tzu would ultimately allude to, it is this: warfare is a complicated business. Do not enter into it without thinking through what it is you wish to accomplish by going to war. Do not go into combat half-cocked, and don't rely on half-baked plans or half-wit generals.
The penalty for not following this dictum could very well be either your annihilation or the financial and materiel ruin of your society. For further elaboration on this point I will defer you to the Chinese sage himself.
Given the amount of information rendered by this book, it is a surprisingly quick read. As a bonus, we are also able to peruse the trenchant commentary of various other Chinese military persons.
This book is, quite simply, a must for the military historian - both amateur & professional. I would hope that it is standard reading for all major war colleges in my country. While the instruments of war change over the centuries, the rules of war remain constant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible translation of a most important work..., Dec 7 2003
This review is from: The Art of War (Paperback)
Indeed, I am heartened to read one reviewer lambasting the general critical acceptance of "The Art of War" as "flowery". Unfortunately, most Westerners see Chinese philosophy as little more than yoga meditation and interior decoration. Of course, this is not the case.
Take, for example, Sun's "Art of War". Here is a man sick of watching ancient Chinese warlords wage war in a sloppy, haphazard fashion (more as a social tradition than anything else), wasting their populace's resources and lives. Thus, Sun writes a magnum opus discussing the proper means of waging war, from gaining the support of the people to clearly articulating goals to ensuring success of well-trained armies in short and long campaigns all the way to the minute details of using fire (even setting other people on fire). Far from the flowery rhetoric of most Western diatribes on Taoism and Buddhism and (enter your favorite Chinese term here), the Art of War is at once simple and immediate, which is why it has survived for 2500 years.
Griffith's translation of this work is masterful as well. Included are many of the commentaries of the ancient scholars (including, for you Three Kingdoms fans, copious amounts of Cao Cao), which show how Sun's text was used in various situations, both in war AND peace). Also, he includes an excellent introduction which places the work in its historical context and speaks of Mao Zedong's use of its precepts. Also are five appendices, one of which contains the other famous Art of War, that of Wu. I was particularly surprised at his none-too-flattering comments regarding the Japanese understanding of this work (truthfully, I think that too many people see the art of war in the Gordon Gecko, "Rising Sun" business sense), particularly in pointing out their blunders during WWII.
All in all, reader, you will be hard-pressed to find a better translation of this seminal work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book on Leadership Ever Written, Sept. 6 2002
This review is from: The Art of War (Paperback)
For years I've heard people refer to this book as the ultimate tactical planner's guide. However, I never took the time to read it because I was turned off by images of greedy, yuppie stockbrokers refering to this book as their Bible. I didn't want to read anything recommended by corporate head-hunter types. I detested those individuals and any philosophy they espoused.
However, when the war in Afghanistan started, I became fascinated with military tactics and questioned why we have to bomb everything in sight. Is that the only way to win a war and does bombing actually end the conflict or prolong it? I picked up this book hoping to glean some Eastern wisdom from the legendary Sun Tzu. I was not disappointed.
Sun Tzu confirmed everything my instincts had been telling me about this dunderheaded Clausewitzean approach to military tactics. The US's overrealiance on ordinance and smart munitions has resulted in us becoming more and more tactically and politically inept. Our military destroys infrastracture and imposes silly sanctions that only prolong the "total war". In the end we exhaust our resources, frustrate our troops, alieanate our public, and forever ruin the indigenous people's lives. The tragic irony being we do more damage to the people we are trying to save than the "enemy" could have done himself.
Individuals like Bin Laden could have been apprehended had we taken up the offers of the Sudanese or freed up the small tactical units that warned us of this nutjob years ago. Instead we blunder forward with our highly destructive and inevitably ineffectual answer which is attrition warfare. The same thing that probably got us in this mess in the first place.
Sun Tzu, amazingly enough, predicted 2,500 years ago that this total war approach (destroying your enemy's property, stealing the enemy's food and riches) was actually more destructive to the endgame and to the overrall political objective. He eloquently advanced the notion that the true art of war is to conquer your enemy without ever actually going to battle!
Sun Tzu's heavy emphasis on psychological warfare (using spies to spread rumors and cause division in enemy ranks, disguising troop movements by appearing more formidable than you actually are, and winning through skillful negotiation) all seem concepts lost on today political and military elite. Sun Tzu preached you must possess the victory BEFORE ever setting foot on the battlefield. Despite the book being a military manual, I was surprised at how much emphasis was placed on avoiding war and pursuing mental and psychological victories. When Sun Tzu preached "know your enemy" he wanted you to know the endgame. He wanted you to see the bloodshed and the loss and determine if it was even worth it to use military force in an effort to achieve a political objective.
Our "100 hour" wars have become decades-long nightmares. Our reliance on air bombardment is resulting in us ignoring many of the brilliant small unit tactics that Sun Tzu espoused, thus we've had to reign in even more fire from above because our troops down below are insufficiently trained. We've abandoned the principles of deception. Because of our overreliance on technology, we've abandoned using human intelligence (which Sun Tzu strongly espoused) thus we have no moles, no double agents, and inevitably, no reliable intelligence on our enemy. In short, we don't know our enemy. We've sold ourselves on Clausewitz' destructive theories of attrition warfare. We've forgotten that the most effective and most advanced weapon in our arsenal is our brain.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Timeless Beauty of War, May 11 2002
By 
Peter Mackay "surgeonsmate" (Campbell, ACT Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Art of War (Paperback)
War is ugly, dirty, brutal, wasteful and expensive. That is the reality of it. Let's not pretend otherwise.
Having said that, the ancient Chinese master strips away all the familiar trappings of war - the warriors, weapons, forts and tactics - to reveal the essence of conflict and how to win.
His lessons are as valid here and now as they were in an empire a long time ago and far, far away. It simply does not matter how you are fighting, what you are fighting over nor even why you are fighting. If you are forced into conflict with another, the lessons in this book will guarantee victory.
Brute strength, overwhelming force, super weapons, holding the high ground, none of these are required for victory. All that is needed is a leader who can understand and apply the principles of warfare.
Essentially it boils down to three ideas.
1. Know yourself.
2. Know your enemy.
3. Only fight when you can win.
Do this, and you will win competitions, elections, games. Anything that involves conflict. Even wars.
Sun Tzu's elegant language lays bare the principles of warfare, illustrating his lessons with examples from Ancient China. It is a thought-provoking, colourful and valuable book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Broadening Your Perspective, Sept. 21 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Art of War (Paperback)
War is not really based on honor... or glory, or even whose right. It's all about conditions, who has the advantage and how to dishearten your opponents while making sure your own resources are protected. It tells you what to look for through hundreds of various quotes and snippets of advice. This book was not entirely by Sun Tzu, but a collection of famous tacticians through-out history. Each seem to add another element to the concept of how to win in conflict.
In life, you can see a little of this in each day... but just remember not too get too carried away. After all, even Sun Tzu himself said 'A battle not fought, is a battle won.' For broadening your perspective, I'd suggest adding this book to your collection as well as 'Open Your Mind, Open Your Life: A Little Book of Eastern Wisdom' by Taro Gold.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic., Sept. 24 2003
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This review is from: The Art of War (Paperback)
Sun Tzu's The Art of War is more than just a collection of common-sense adages. It is a comprehensive treatment of war and its relationship to society as a whole. At first, some of the selections seem obvious and naive. But then you come across a pearl of wisdom that really makes you think. And only after reading the entire book, and some historical backing too, do you realize what an achievement the book really is. Anyone that is interested in politics and warfare will find The Art of War to be very enlightening.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good!!!, May 8 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Art of War (Paperback)
I don't really understand all the reviews about Sun Tzu's work. People saying that this one or that one is closer to the original; are there really that many experts in ancient Chinese out there. How can anyone say which is the best translation unless they are personally familiar with the original, in the original Chinese, and if that the case they should write their own version.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and useful, to an extent, July 18 2003
By 
Brent Wigen (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Art of War (Paperback)
Without question, Sun Tzu's thirteen chapters on The Art of War are some the most definitive commentaries on waging armed conflict ever written, at least until Clausewitz came along, and even then you would have a hard time discounting the importance of Sun Tzu's thought. This is such an influential peice of writing that many people have read it as a management manual or business guide. This is the nature of many of the writings in this book; they are not only useful from a military standpoint, they are truly universal in their utility.
This translation is interesting, in that Griffith provides some discussion on the origin of the thirteen chapters and the era in which they were written. Also included is a small chapter on the influence Sun Tzu had on Mao, and the extent to which Sun Tzu influenced Chinese military (and political) thought right up to the present day.
The one thing that bothered me was the abundance of footnotes, which, while informative, broke up the writings so much it was difficult to maintain a fluid sense of thought. This was abviously written as an academic endeavor, and as such is annotized relentlessly. The commentaries in the text were useful at some points, redundant at others.
All in all, this is a good book, whether you're looking for self-help or military history.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Translation Of An Ancient Classic, March 17 2003
This review is from: The Art of War (Paperback)
This Review refers to the paperback edition of The Art of War as translated, introduced by Samuel B. Griffith and forwarded by B. Liddell Hart.
The Art of War, by Sun Tzu (a.k.a. Sun Zi), is a timeless military treatise dedicated to the introduction of key military principles and activities. The book encompasses diplomatic procedures as well as military matters, and encourages peace over war. Despite these encouragements, however, the book goes on to explain the ins and outs of conducting proper warfare, much of which still being applicable in modern times. Also included in this version is an extensive introduction to who Sun Tzu was and the times he likely lived in, a brief history of The Art of War´¿s influence and production in other countries, commentaries on the text (some of which by Chinese titans such as Ts´¿ao Ts´¿ao (a.k.a. Cao Cao), and Wu Ch´¿i´¿s ´¿Art of War.´¿
The Art of War provides the basic principles of the proper way to wage war as well as how one should deal with the differing variables that they will inevitably confront in such an instance. The work provides explanations for how to keep morale up as well as for how to keep the army properly organized. Many of his suggestions and explanations are also applicable to topics other than war, although recently there have been certain literary works that take it a bit too far. There is also a wealth of historical information provided (by both the treatise and the introduction) concerning how the ancients viewed and conducted war.
Griffith´¿s translation is far superior to Giles´¿s translation, and is a translation that is better than most when it comes to the translation of Chinese texts. The commentary is essential in clarifying the aspects of the verses in question; however, the commentary´¿s placement gets in the way at times. Griffith´¿s translation presents the text in numbered verses and is a properly organized interpretation. Griffith´¿s literary style both in his translation and in his introductory work is generally quite good, although there is a bias towards certain opinions concerning Sun Tzu and his questionable existence.
The commentary can be cumbersome, but is generally decent clarification (perhaps the commentary can be in a separate column in future editions). Despite the commentary the translation is, by far, the best translation I have come across. Overall, The Art of War is probably the greatest ancient (and possibly greatest all-time) military treatise to reach production. The Art of War is a classic and should be standard reading for the military personnel of any country.
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The Art of War (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
The Art of War (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) by Sun Tzu (Mass Market Paperback - May 1 2003)
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