Helps the reader apply the principles of military strategy to all challenges and conflicts of life.
Compiled more than two thousand years ago by a mysterious warrior-philosopher, "The Art of War " is still perhaps the most prestigious and influential book of strategy in the world today, as eagerly studied in Asia by modern politicians and executives as it as been by military leaders since ancient times. As a study of the anatomy of organizations in conflict, "The Art of War "applies to competition and conflict in general, on every level from the interpersonal to the international. Its aim is invincibility, victory without battle, and unassailable strength through understanding of the physics, politics, and psychology of conflict. This translation presents the classic from the point of view of its background in the great spiritual tradition of Taoism, the origin of psychology, science, and technology in East Asia and the source of the insights into human nature that underlie this most revered of handbooks for success. Translated from a standard collection of commentaries on Sun Tzu's text by eleven interpreters, the work has been edited by Thomas Cleary to bring out the meaning of the principles of strategy. In addition, the translator provides an extensive introduction discussing the content and background of the book.
Thomas Cleary earned his Ph.D. in East Asian studies at Harvard University and is renowned for his translations of classic Chinese, Japanese, Sanskrit, Pali and Arabic religious texts. His translations include the bestselling 'The Art of War', 'The Essential Tao', 'The Essential Confucius', 'The Essential Koran', and 'The Secret of the Golden Flower'. He lives in Cambridge, MA.
"Thomas Cleary's translation of Sun Tzu's 2,000-year-old The Art of War makes immediately relevant one of the greatest Chinese classical texts. There's not a dated maxim or vague prescription in it. 'To win without fighting is best, ' Sun Tzu said. For him, war was coeval with life. Absorb this book, and you can throw out all those contemporary books about management leadership."-- Newsweek
I: LAYING PLANS Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence under no circumstances can it be neglected. The art of war is governed by five constant factors, all of which need to be taken into account. They are: the Moral Law; Heaven; Earth; the Commander; Method and discipline. The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger. Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons. Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death. The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and strictness. By Method and discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the gradations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure. These five factors should be familiar to every general. He who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail. Therefore, when seeking to determine your military conditions, make your decisions on the basis of a comparison in this wise: Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral Law? Which of the two generals has the most ability? With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth? On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? Tu Mu alludes to the remarkable story of Ts''ao Ts''ao (A.D. I55 - 220), who was such a strict disciplinarian that once, in accordance with his own severe regulations against injury to standing crops, he condemned himself to death for having allowed his horse to stray into a field of corn! However, in lieu of losing his head, he was persuaded to satisfy his sense of justice by cutting off his hair. "When you lay down a law, see that it is not disobeyed; if it is disobeyed, the offender must be put to death." Which army is the stronger? On which side are officers and men more highly trained? In which army is there the most absolute certainty that merit will be properly rewarded and misdeeds summarily punished? By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat. The general who hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it will conquer--let such a one be retained in command! The general who hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it will suffer defeat--let such a one be dismissed! But remember: While heeding the profit of my counsel, avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules and modify your plans accordingly. All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected. The general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat; how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose. II: ON WAGING WAR In the operations of war, where there are in the field a thousand swift chariots, ten thousand heavy chariots, and a hundred thousand mail-clad soldiers, with provisions enough to carry them a thousand li*, the expenditure at home and at the front, including entertainment of guests, small items such as glue and paint, and sums spent on chariots and armor, will reach the total of a thousand ounces of silver per day. Such is the cost of raising an army of a hundred thousand men. When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, the men''s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be dampened. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength, and if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the state will not be equal to the strain. Never forget: When your weapons are dulled, your ardor dampened, your strength exhausted, and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue. Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays. In all history, there is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare. Only one who knows the disastrous effects of a long war can realize the supreme importance of rapidity in bringing it to a close. It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war who can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on. The skillful general does not raise a second levy, neither are his supply wagons loaded more than twice. Once war is declared, he will not waste precious time in waiting for reinforcements, nor will he turn his army back for fresh supplies, but crosses the enemy''s frontier without delay. The value of time--that is, being a little ahead of your opponent--has counted for more than either numerical superiority or the nicest calculations with regard to commissariat. Bring war material with you from home, but forage on the enemy. Thus the army will have food enough for its needs. Poverty of the state exchequer causes an army to be maintained by contributions from a distance. Contributing to maintain an army at a distance causes the people to be impoverished. On the other hand, the proximity of an army causes prices to go up; and high prices cause people''s substance to be drained away. When their substance is drained away, they will be afflicted by heavy exactions. With this loss of substance and exhaustion of strength, the homes of the people will be stripped bare, and their incomes dissipated; at the same time government expenses for broken chariots, worn-out horses, breastplates and helmets, bows and arrows, spears and shields, protective mantlets, draught oxen and heavy wagons, will amount to almost half its total revenue. A wise general makes a point of foraging on the enemy. One cartload of the enemy''s provisions is equivalent to twenty of one''s own, and likewise a single picul* of his provender is equivalent to twenty from one''s own store. Now, in order to kill the enemy, our men must be roused to anger. For them to perceive the advantage of defeating the enemy, they must also have their rewards. Thus, when you capture spoils from the enemy, they must be used as rewards, so that all your men may have a keen desire to fight, each on his own account. Therefore in chariot fighting, when ten or more chariots have been taken, those should be rewarded who took the first. Our own flags should be substituted for those of the enemy, and the chariots mingled and used in conjunction with ours. The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept. This is called using the conquered foe to augment one''s own strength. In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns. Thus it may be known that the leader of armies is the arbiter of the people''s fate, the man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or in peril. 2.78 modern li make a mile. The length may have varied slightly since Sun Tzu''s time. ** A Chinese unit of weight equal to 133.33 pounds. III: THE SHEATHED SWORD To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy''s resistance without fighting. In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy''s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to capture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment, or a company entire than to destroy them. Thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy''s plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy''s forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy''s army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities, because the preparation of mantlets, movable shelters, and various implements of war will take up three whole months; and the piling up of mounds over against the walls will take three months more. The general, unable to control his irritation, will launch his men to the assault like swarming ants, with the result that one third of his men are slain, while the town still remains untaken. Such are the disastrous effects of a siege. The skillful leader subdues the enemy''s troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field. With his forces intact he disputes the mastery of the empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph is complete. This is the method of
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