Conflict is an inevitable part of life, according to this ancient Chinese classic of strategy, but everything necessary to deal with conflict wisely, honorably, victoriously, is already present within us. Compiled more than two thousand years ago by a mysterious warrior-philosopher, The Art of War is still perhaps the most prestigious and influential book of strategy in the world, as eagerly studied in Asia by modern politicians and executives as it has been by military leaders since ancient times. As a study of the anatomy of organizations in conflict, The Art of War applies to competition and conflict in general, on every level from the interpersonal to the international. Its aim is invincibility, victory without battle, and unassailable strength through understanding the physics, politics, and psychology of conflict.
The aphorisms that make up the philosophy of war and strategy by Sun Tzu have, several centuries later, become a must-read for young professionals in business. Though the text can be applied to the ruthless world of commerce, this translation by Thomas Cleary contextualizes the teachings in the Taoist tradition, enabling the work to transcend the simple co-opting of the philosophy for business strategies. By clarifying the philosophical origins, Cleary makes the text applicable not only to winning a literal war but also to almost any conflict-resolution situation, as well as to achieving goals in life. Though the text deals with many pragmatic issues in war, ranging in topics from "Strategic Assessments, "Armed Struggle," and "The Use of Spies," much of the text is rooted in the idea that the greatest victory is won without having to do battle. At times, the material approaches these subjects in very practical terms, but the underlying message is that of surpassing unnecessary physical and emotional strain with deep understanding of the given situation. Because of the simplicity of the original text, there is much room for interpretation. The translation utilizes commentary from 11 ancient scholars elaborating on each aphorism with a more complete interpretation.
- Fiction + Literature Genres
- January 11, 2005
- January 11, 2005