Saturday, February 02, 2013

Books read in 2013: No. 8 -- The Art of War

by Sun Tzu

translated by Lionel Giles

Started: Feb. 2
Finished: Feb. 6

Notes: Having just finished reading Tolstoy major work on pacifism, now I go in the completely opposite direction. Over the years I have read bits and pieces of Sun Tzu's famous work on war, but I've never sat down to read the whole thing. My impression has been that this work is more philosophical than technical, and now I'll find out.

Mini review: Somewhat philosophical in places, but less so than I had expected. For the most part, much of this sounded like plain common sense to me. Not that I'm any military genius or anything, but maybe I've read enough to know at least some common sense military strategies. That being said, I did pick up a few new things here, mainly about using the landscape and the reactions of wild animals to be able to find information about an enemy's location and movements. For example, Sun Tzu suggests watching birds in flight as they land, for the birds will not land where an army is encamped; this seems fairly plain and makes sense, but it's not something I'd ever thought about before.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I rather liked it. Reminded me somewhat of Machivelli's The Prince.