Book Review: The Art of War by Sun Tzu

Book Review_The Art of War

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Sun Tzu’s Art of War, compiled more than two thousand years ago, is a study of the anatomy of organizations in conflict. It is perhaps the most prestigious and influential book of strategy in the world today. Now, this unique volume brings together the essential versions of Sun Tzu’s text, along with illuminating commentaries and auxiliary texts written by distinguished strategists. The translations, by the renowned translator Thomas Cleary, have all been published previously in book form, except for The Silver Sparrow Art of War, which is available here for the first time. This collection contains:

The Art of War: This edition of Sun Tzu’s text includes the classic collection of commentaries by eleven interpreters.

Mastering the Art of War: Consisting of essays by two prominent statesmen-generals of Han dynasty China, Zhuge Liang and Liu Ji, this book develops the strategies of Sun Tzu’s classic into a complete handbook of organization and leadership. It draws on episodes from Chinese history to show in concrete terms the proper use of Sun Tzu’s principles.

The Silver Sparrow Art of War: A version of Sun Tzu’s Art of War based on a manuscript of the classic text discovered at a Chinese archeological site in China’s Shandong Province in 1972, which contains previously unknown fragments.

Note: The electronic edition of this book does not contain The Lost Art of War, as seen in the paperback edition.

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This is a must read for anyone who wants to discuss stratagems for games of conflict—be that game: war, business, poker, or anything else.

What’s more as a fantasy author, I’m always shocked by how shallow the wars and warriors can seem inside fantasy novels. I think this one book should be consider a must-read craft novel for all writers who choose to write about war. While it won’t get you to a 100% understanding of warfare, it will at least get you to the 80% mark and prevent the most obvious blunders.

Just as the Prince, I’m shocked how much window is packed into such a short book. I think every nonfiction writer could learn from these two books, how to pack in knowledge and wisdom without fluff. I’d rather spend my time reflecting on what I’ve read, than wasting my time digging through a lazy author’s fluff.

Write tight, write right.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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