The Art of War – Bookcast #20

The Art of War (~500 B.C.) by Sun Tzu

The Art of War (Sunzi bingfa) is a 5th-century BC military treatise written by the Chinese strategist Sun-Tzu (aka Sunzi or Sun Wu). Covering all aspects of warfare, it seeks to advise commanders on how to prepare, mobilize, attack, defend, and treat the vanquished.

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“The Art of War” Show Notes

  • What this book is about
    • Completely redefining war and the attributes a warrior and a general should have.
  • What Sun Tzu sets out to do / Purpose of the book
    • Creating a new rulebook on war. Previously war had been for noblemen and was more of a game and show of wealth than anything.
  • The intended audience of the book
    • Who will benefit most
      • Military historians
      • Strategy lovers
    • Who probably WON’T like “Art of War”
      • Hippies
      • Lovers of flowing, richly detailed stories.

5:30 – How easy is the book to read?

  • Very easy reading wise
  • Print: ~80 pages (90 minutes)
  • Audiobook: 90 minutes

Free version of “The Art of War” available online

6:00 – Reviews and significance of “The Art of War”

  • The most popular book on military tactics ever written
  • Most popular Chinese book world wide

8:30 – Bio of Sun Tzu

  • Sun Tzu was a military strategist, general and advisor
  • Tzu came from the State of Qi and lived during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history (770 BC – 476 BC)
  • This was a tumultuous time in Chinese history when different states battled for dominance
  • An occupation that found much demand during this period of intense warfare and military innovation 
  • Sun Tzu fled the state of Qi before and invasion to the realm of the Wu. The Wu king appointed Sun Tzu as a general in his army
  • After a victorious military career Sun Tzu had become a heroic figure to the Wu 
  • He then summarized his military experiences, which he had gained in the wars during the final phase of spring and autumn.
  • Not more details about his life

12:00 – Major Themes of the Book

  • Chapter 1: Laying Plans
  • Chapter 2: Waging War
  • Chapter 3: Attack by Strategy
  • Chapter 4: Tactical Dispositions
  • Chapter 5: Use of Energy
  • Chapter 6: Weak Points and Strong
  • Chapter 7: Maneuvering
  • Chapter 8: Variation of Tactics
  • Chapter 9: The Army on the Marc
  • Chapter 10: Classification of Terrain
  • Chapter 11: The Nine Situations
  • Chapter 12: The Attack by Fire
  • Chapter 13: The Use of Spies

16:30 – Jay’s and Matt’s Perspectives

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