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If you have never read the Art of War then buy this one or some other, you will not be disappointed. It is one of the best books I have ever read. It applies to so many aspects of life that anyone from soldier to businessman can learn from it.
If you have read it before you will get nothing special from this one. It was not much different from any of the other translations that are out there.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
This is one of those classic works that I’ve picked up and browsed through a few times, but never quite got around to reading in its entirety. This audiobook provides a translation of the original sparsely-worded 2,500 year old military manual interspersed with commentary and historical anecdotes from ancient China.
Jaded present-day readers might be tempted to scoff at the simplicity of Sun Tzu’s treatise and its quaint-sounding language about walled cities, terrain, and taxing the peasants -- gosh, Sun Tzu, we should deceive our enemy? we should only attack when he’s weak? Tell me more! -- but look again. The Art of War isn’t a breezy self-help guide -- held in the mind, its principles form a constant admonition to let the circumstances shape your thinking, rather than try to impose your thinking on the circumstances.
Which is something that human beings, when you think about it, aren’t naturally gifted at. We get carried away with emotions. We tie ourselves to inflexible agendas and ideas. We’re indecisive. We prefer direction from others. We underestimate difficult problems and get in over our heads. We bias ourselves towards predictions that say what we want to hear. The point Sun Tzu (or the authors whose work was attributed to him) were making is simple: if you can overcome your own cognitive biases, and take advantage of those of your enemy, you’ll do well.
You don’t have to be much of a student of history to see how military, political, and business leaders have gotten it right or wrong, human nature being as hard to overcome as it was 2,500 years ago. Consider how a loose, cheaply-run network known as Al-Queda managed to goad the United States into wasting vast amounts of money on a war with no clear victory condition, while alienating allies and sacrificing some of its own treasured democratic ideals. Or how China, rather than making a risky show of military strength against the US, keeps our power in check by owning part of our national debt. Someone behind that decision must have read his Sun Tzu.
Just goes to show why The Art of War’s zenlike lessons are still required reading in many circles.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful