The book, “The Art of War”, is often cited by businessmen, military strategists, actors and other personalities. It is a book that was written by Sun Tzu in 6th century China. The history of its translation into various languages is quite interesting. Finally, it was translated into English with different versions. The version I prefer is that of James Clavell, who wrote the bestseller, “Shogun.”
The interesting thing about the book, “The Art of War”, is that it is not about imposing military might or force to dominate someone or another country. It can be used incorrectly (as with anything else) to serve the misguided ambitions of selfish businessmen, power-hungry politicians, or just plain deceptive people. The true context of the book is strong and appropriate leadership. Leadership of other people and yourself.
The book is divided into thirteen chapters:
1) Plans and calculations
2) make war
3) The plan of attack
4) Tactical provisions or positioning
6) Strengths and weaknesses
7) Engaging and maneuvering the force
8) Variations of tactics
9) Moving the Forces
12) Attack with fire
13) The use of intelligence and spies
The title of each of the chapters will vary according to the translations. Within each of the thirteen chapters are principles for conducting leadership skills, especially in war, politics, or business.
There are countless examples in history where the violation of a principle cost the lives of many troops. For example, at Gettysburg, Confederate troops attacked going uphill against a fortified Union position. This is strongly discouraged in the book. If you are attacking the enemy in a clearly uneven position or terrain, you must go downhill, not uphill. It cost the lives of many soldiers because of this suicide attack. More importantly, the book discusses and explains that you must know yourself and your enemy, then you will win your battles. Your enemy could be a matter of making a profit for your business or winning an election or winning the court of public opinion. There are multiple practical applications of the “Art of War” philosophies.
A recent example of military failures occurs when battles become more of a political maneuver than separate military directives. The cloudiness and ambiguity cause dissension and uncertainty among those involved, especially soldiers and people who must comply with directives or orders. “The Art of War” provides clarity and certainty of purpose through the application of principles.