The Art of War
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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.
opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will.” 19. Rapidity is the essence of war: take advantage of the enemy’s unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attack unguarded spots. 20. The following are the principles to be observed by an invading force: The further you penetrate into a country, the greater will be the solidarity of your troops, and thus the defenders will not prevail against you. 21. Make forays in fertile country in order to supply your army
urgent injunctions on the nature of war across vast reaches of time and culture; the task was extraordinary, the impetus behind it almost saintly. The influence of the work of these two men colors our lives even as this text is written. But it did not come without effort, and even today, with a century of English-language scholarship on Asian literature, religion, and societies behind us, there is still much to puzzle the general reader. World War I and its carnage would soon burst upon the
now threw themselves on the enemy. At the same moment a frightful din arose in the city itself, all those that remained behind making as much noise as possible by banging drums and hammering on bronze vessels, until heaven and earth were convulsed by the uproar. Terror-stricken, the Yen army fled in disorder, hotly pursued by the men of Ch’i, who succeeded in slaying their general Ch’i Chieh . . . The result of the battle was the ultimate recovery of some seventy cities which had belonged to the
Hsin’s officers came to him and said: “In The Art of War, we are told to have a hill or tumulus on the right rear, and a river or marsh on the left front. [This appears to be a blend of Sun Tzu and T’ai Kung. See chapter IX, paragraph 9, and note.] You, on the contrary, ordered us to draw up our troops with the river at our back. Under these conditions, how did you manage to gain the victory?” The general replied, “I fear you gentlemen have not studied The Art of War with sufficient care. Is it
millennium after Sun Tzu composed his treatise. In Seven Samurai (1954), itinerant warriors (samurai) are hired to rescue a town beset by bandit warlords. The fight scenes, the issues of class, and the final futility of violence make this a startling and moving work. The samurai, who in this instance personify the weak and small pitted against the well-equipped and strong, use battle techniques as explicated by Sun Tzu. Kurosawa’s Kagemusha (1980) is set during a period of terrible interstate