The Art of War by Sun Tzu: New Modern Edition (Classics on War and Politics) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2018/2/3
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The Art of War is a classic of military strategy. It is ascribed to Sun Tzu, also called Sunzi or Sun Wu, a quasi-legendary figure. The work has been dated from between the 6th to the 3rd century BCE. It is known worldwide and is considered required reading for students of political and military science. As with other classics, many of its themes are timeless. Quotations from the work can be meaningful apart from the thousands of years which separate us from the time and place of its creation. The Art of War is itself a brief work. However, it is generally packaged with extensive commentary and additional essays, so that it appears to be a book of around 200 pages or more. (This new modern edition is only 40 pages in length.) Much of what is added to these editions is only interesting to academics or students of the minutiae of history. At the same time, the intentions of readers tends to be to find out what it is that makes this work such a classic, not learn about the history of its commentaries. This new edition meant to address the needs of the modern reader. By honing the language down to clear formulations, The Art of War can be more readily understood, more enjoyable to read, and more relevant to today. The English is based on the original translation by Lionel Giles. The 1910 English prose of Giles is awkward to our modern ears, and slows down our reading and appreciation of this classic. The new modern edition of The Art of War is meant to communicate the authentic essence and meaning of this work in modern, accessible English prose. This version is an abridgement, a shortened form of a work which nevertheless retains the same meaning and upholds the unity of the original. Abridgement is foremost a cutting away of the inessential parts, which ends up in condensing the work. The key to abridging is to ensure the prose is extremely clear and transparent in meaning, requiring little additional guidance or interpretation to reach understanding.
Most versions of this work spend more time trying to identify and qualify Sun Tzu's writings than just quoting them. I will not go through all the arguments as to who "wrote what when" or "translated what when" as you can read this for yourself.
Another distraction is the attempt to show how the book was applied or not applied in recent wars. This may be interesting to someone whose intention is to apply the theories of Sun Tzu; however it is not his writing but someone else's interpretation of its application.
Now let's finally get to Sun Tzu. It is easy with hindsight and a closer look at the future to dismiss Sun Tzu as his practical tactical knowledge is of a time and place long gone. He spends a lot of time on the use of weapons and information gathering techniques of the time. This can be interesting in a historical context; other wise it is quite amusing.
Oh yes those grains of truth I mentioned, well they may sound like clich's but they are still viable. "Know your enemy and know yourself". Others are just practical sense and statistical outcomes that you learn in any military training. I could go through the list, but again that is why you buy the book.
Now just as you decide that the book is outdated for any practical purposes today we have artillery and now stealth and precision, the reminder that "no two wars are alike" and "it is flexibility that makes a difference" is being shown today to still be true. Even in today's wars there is a need for good intelligence and deception. We put a lot of time and energy into Psy-Ops. Sun Tzu shows the advantage in specialized units and crack troops.
I have spent several years in the military and in business and can say this book is a nice addition to history, otherwise of very little value to today's world for war or business.
The most abuse of this book is trying to use it for projects as project management is a science that that was in its infancy at the time this book was written.