The Art of War Book Summary

by Thomas Cleary, Sun Tzu14


'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu, translated by Thomas Cleary, is a timeless masterpiece on strategy, leadership, and conflict resolution, encompassing various aspects of military tactics and their applications.

What is The Art of War about

'The Art of War', attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, is a seminal text on strategy and tactics in warfare. Compiled over two thousand years ago, it consists of 13 chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of warfare and military strategy. Thomas Cleary's translation brings together various versions and commentaries, including works by distinguished strategists and newly discovered fragments, providing a comprehensive understanding of Sun Tzu's principles and their applications in historical and modern contexts.

The Art of War 7 Key Takeaways

The Moral Law

This principle ensures that the people are in complete accord with their ruler, leading to unwavering loyalty and unity in the face of danger.

Heaven and Earth

These concepts refer to the environmental conditions (Heaven) and the physical terrain (Earth) that impact military operations, emphasizing the need to adapt strategies accordingly.

The Commander

A successful commander possesses wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and strictness, ensuring effective leadership and decision-making.

Method and Discipline

This involves the organization, control, and logistics of military operations, ensuring proper management of resources and personnel.

Strategic Flexibility

Sun Tzu advocates for adaptability and flexibility in strategy, emphasizing that rigid plans are less effective than those that can adjust to changing circumstances.

Deception as a Tactic

Misleading the enemy is a crucial strategy; making the enemy believe one thing while planning another can lead to significant advantages.

Importance of Intelligence

Gathering and using intelligence effectively is key to understanding the enemy's plans and movements, allowing for informed strategic decisions.

The Art of War Best Reviews

  • 'Timeless and profound, this collection not only presents Sun Tzu's original text but also enriches it with insightful commentaries, making it an indispensable guide to understanding and applying the art of strategy.' - The New York Times

Top The Art of War Quotes

  • 'All warfare is based on deception.'
  • 'In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.'
  • 'The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.'

Who should read The Art of War?

'The Art of War' is ideal for military professionals, business leaders, strategists, and anyone interested in the principles of strategy and conflict resolution. Its timeless wisdom offers valuable insights applicable to various fields, making it a must-read for those looking to enhance their strategic thinking and leadership skills.

About the Author

Sun Tzu was an ancient Chinese military strategist and philosopher who lived during the Eastern Zhou period. His work, 'The Art of War,' has had a profound influence on both Eastern and Western military thinking, business tactics, legal strategy, and beyond. Thomas Cleary is a renowned translator known for his works on Asian philosophy and spiritual traditions. His translations have made classic Eastern texts accessible to a broader audience, preserving their essence and wisdom.

The Art of War FAQs

What is the book 'The Art of War' about?

'The Art of War' is a classic text on military strategy and tactics, attributed to Sun Tzu. It covers various aspects of warfare, including planning, deception, leadership, and adaptability.

Is 'The Art of War' worth reading?

Absolutely. 'The Art of War' offers timeless wisdom on strategy, leadership, and conflict resolution, making it relevant and valuable across various fields beyond just military applications.

What are the five laws of 'The Art of War'?

The five laws are: the Moral Law, Heaven, Earth, the Commander, and Method and Discipline. These principles guide the alignment of people, understanding of conditions, leadership, and organizational management in warfare.