Grandpa Kewl

Book Review – The Art of War, Sun Tzu

The Art of War

Sun Tzu

This small book, written about 2500 years ago, is the single most significant military text in all human history. Its lessons have been applied to numerous fields outside the strictly military from business management to professional sports. It has stood the test of time and continues to inspire and educate.

You are alive today only because someone in your past read and employed this book’s teachings.

This particular volumn, a translation by Lin Wusun is nicely illustrated by examples of Chinese weapons, artifacts, art and writings. No idea where I purchased it. It took one day to read it – first part on the trip into DC and the last half on the return home.

A few assorted quotations that I found interesting:

The Way: “By ‘the Way,’ I mean moral influence, or that which causes the people to think in line with their sovereign so that they will follow him through every vicissitude, whether to live or die, without fear of mortal peril.”

“War is a game of deception.”

“For there has never been a prolonged war from which a country has benefited.”


Immediately reminded me of the Vietnam war.

“Thus, the best policy in war is to thwart the enemy’s strategy.”



“There are three ways by which a sovereign may bring disaster to his army: One he arbitrarily orders his army to advance or retreat when in fact it should not, theu hampering the initiative of the army. Two, he interferes with the administration of the army when he is ignorant of its internal affairs, thus causing confusion among the officers and men. Three, he interferes with the officers command, unaware of the principle that an army should adopt different tactics acording to different circumstances.”


Speaks to the tendency of certain American presidents to micro-manage their conflicts

“Therefor I say: Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without peril.”


Knowing oneself is key

“Generally, he who first occupies the field of battle and awaits his enemy is rested and prepared; he who comes late to the scene and hastens into battle is weary and passive.”


My first thought was of the Battle of Hastings

“Hence, it is a rule in war that you must not count on the enemy not coming, but always be ready for him…”


This caused me to think of the ‘Pre-9/11″ mode of thinking we are sinking into. Another way os saying “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.”

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