The Art of War – Book No. 11

This book review is a part of Reading Week. To read more reviews, click here!

22. The Art of War by Sun Tzu (5th Century BC) (Our version was the one translated by Lionel Giles)

Dates: 5/9/20 (1.25 hour)

Basic Plot: Military strategist Sun Tzu writes about how to win wars.

Experience Before Reading: Not much other than it’s about military strategy.

Takeaway: I found that I enjoyed this book (treatise?) quite a bit. Since reading The Prince by Machiavelli, I came into The Art of War with a little idea of what it would entail. Many of the themes are consistent and they speak of similar ideas. Seeing as The Prince came about one thousand years later, I wonder how much of Machiavelli’s strategies were directly and indirectly influenced by Sun Tzu.

I will be completely honest and say that I enjoyed The Art of War much more. I think it has to do with the styles of the works. The Art of War is much more direct and reads like proverbs and rules whereas The Prince is more prose driven.

However, I do think it’s important to separate the two from one another because they are their own ideas. Some of the ideas and classifications Sun Tzu presents are pretty thought provoking. As I was reading, I made note of one particular passage and turns out it resonated similarly with Abbey. I’ll let her tell you about it.

I will say that I firmly believe you have to read this more than once to absorb it all. Military strategists have been studying this work for centuries and I understand it takes meticulous attention to detail to acquire all of this information.

Would I Recommend It?: Yes, especially if you play strategy games. Go ahead, go and win Risk. Thanks, Sun Tzu.

Abbey’s Review

Dates: 5/9/20 (1 hour)

Plot: Just a list of war tactics.

Experience Before Reading: I had heard of this but it never peaked my interest.

Takeaway: Meh. This book doesn’t have any plot whatsoever and is literally just a list of war tactics. If I had to choose one thing I enjoyed it was just the discussion of how the faults of generals are recklessness, cowardice, a hasty temper, delicacy of honor, and over solicitude for your men. I think this is true not just of generals, but of all people. Even in a work setting these are all things to avoid.

Would I Recommend It?: I know a few people that would enjoy this. If you are interested in military thinking, this is definitely for you. Overall, just not my cup of tea.

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