Book Review: "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu

Essay by dcowboys3109High School, 10th gradeA, February 2006

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"The Art of War" by Sun Tzu is the oldest military classic known to the world. It is estimated that Sun Tzu lived as far back as the fifth century B.C., around the same time as the famous Chinese philosopher Confucius. It is among the most well-known and esteemed military texts known to man. This version was translated by Lionel Giles in 1910. This was the first accurate translation of the book in English, and also the most famous. The work is divided into thirteen chapters, Laying Plans, Waging War, Attack by Stratagem, Tactical Dispositions, Energy, Weak Points and Strong, Maneuvering, Variation of Tactics, The Army on the March, Terrain, The Nine Situations, The Attack by Fire, and The Use of Spies. Each of these chapters discusses a certain aspect of warfare and provides guidelines on how to deal with them.

Sun Tzu was born into a family that was part of a clan of experts on arms and fighting.

This type of clan can more accurately be called a guild. The Art of War is most likely based on the ideas passed down to Sun Tzu from his clan as well as his own ideas. He also integrates some concepts of early Taoism. Ssu-ma Ch'ien's Shih chi, or The Records of the Grand Historian, state that Sun Tzu lived in the Ch'i State and was a military general. The only known account of Sun Tzu commanding an army is when he commanded the army of King Lo-Hu of the Wu state, and successfully conquered the Ch'u states capital, Ying, effectively defeating the powerful province. The story of Sun Tzu's later life and death is unknown.

"The Art of War" can hardly be called a book, as it is simply a set of guidelines and ideas, presented with little...