My Thoughts on Sun-Tzu’s The Art of War

I realize, I’ve been a bit behind with my blogging, and I’m hoping in the coming weeks, that I’ll be a bit more active with making posts.  About a week ago, I completed my reading of Sun-Tzu’s The Art of War.  As I mentioned in my starting post about it here, I read the Penguin classics version that also included a version of The Art of War with some commentary included with the main body of the text.  I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention, The Art of War is the third book from my Classics Club list that I’ve completed, so that leaves me with 100 to go!

First, I’d like to talk to just the treatise itself, which was about 90 pages.  I absolutely loved reading it without the commentary.  It made so much sense to me, even though most of what Master Sun has to say here is very much common knowledge.  Be proactive, be prepared, don’t be cocky, but most importantly, be smart about how you approach war.  A lot of these pieces of wisdom can definitely be applied to other areas outside of war, such as business.

I felt the chapters were the right page length, and the way the translation was done it made it seem like Master Sun was just having a simple conversation with you over tea and/or dinner providing his insights.  I especially loved the chapter on the types of ground that an army may encounter during war.  It included more than discussing about elevated positions, Master Sun discussed the types of ground and what the best types of ground would facilitate victory.  Before reading this chapter, I simply thought there was high and low ground, but I was quite mistaken.

Just the treatise itself, I discovered, you shouldn’t rush through, even though it is short and reads quickly.  You definitely need to read it a chapter at a time, and absorb it, and form your own opinions/impressions of the work.  The Art of War, I’ve discovered, isn’t something to simply race through because of its length.  And the commentated version helps slow down your pace when you get to that portion of the book.

While I enjoyed some portions of the commentated version, I probably could’ve lived without it.  Since it included commentary from many ancient Chinese philosophers, I found a lot of it to be redundant.  Also, as I was getting toward the middle sections of the treatise, I was just wanting the commentary to end.  While I saw some value in it, most of the time, it just broke up the reading, and usually, half-way through sentences.

Aside from that, I couldn’t find any fault with the book, and I truly enjoyed reading it.  It’s certainly something that I will read again at some point to see if I have the same opinions later on.  If you’ve read The Art of War, please let me know what you think!


About Jeremy

Husband, book lover, Civil War Buff. If I could read for a living I would, but unfortunately, it doesn't pay the bills!

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