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The Art of War

Sun Tzu

Critics 82 55 reviews
Users 88 433506 reviews


The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise dating from the Late Spring and Autumn Period. The work is composed of 13 chapters, each devoted to a different set of skills or art related to warfare and military strategy and tactics. It has influenced both East Asian and Western military theory and thinking and has found applications in various non-military endeavors.

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Discover the timeless wisdom of Sun Tzu's The Art of War, a classic book of military strategy that has been used by armies, leaders, and even everyday individuals for over two millennia. Originally written for warfare, these teachings have been adapted for success in politics, business, and all aspects of life. Gain the advantage over opponents, both on the battlefield and in the boardroom, with this essential guide.

Critics Consensus

  • Aims to deepen Western understanding of Chinese strategic culture.
  • Offers comprehensive analysis of Sun Tzu's treatise.
  • Recommended for strategic commentary enthusiasts.
  • Explores Chinese dialectical system and strategic thinking.
  • Argues for synthesis of Sun Tzu and Carl von Clausewitz's strategies.
  • Emphasizes knowing the enemy and oneself for battle success.

Users Consensus

  • Found interesting and useful for parenting teenage boys.
  • Tactics and strategies are still relevant today.
  • Offers historical and philosophical insights but not life-changing.
  • Difficult to process without pictures, especially in audiobook format.
  • Lacks practical advice and is repetitive.
  • Considered outdated due to changes since the 5th century BC.

Critic Reviews


John Sullivan

"These pointed critiques by Sun Tzu’s own contemporaries remind us that reliable historical context is a necessary component in properly assessing his influence." See more



"The Art of War is a valuable text for anyone who writes about soldiering, or who has any interest in the psychology of politics and power. It is an extremely quotable book, and offers enjoyment both as a whole, and when dipped in and out of." See more


"The Art of War is a classic, not just a military classic, in the same sense that Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War is a classic, rather than a military classic. It is not only that The Art of War might as well be named The Art of Life, since it famously advises readers (originally all powerful men at court) to avoid war, by any means, if possible, on the two cogent grounds that it is far too costly a substitute for diplomacy and long-term strategies, and that the outcome is never assured, given all the variables at play." See more


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"It is quite amazing how advanced and way ahead of his time Sun Tzu was! To have a guide on how to defeat the enemy and for this guide to still be relevant in today’s day and age, that itself is an enormous advantage back in the day!" See more


"One may know the condition of a whole army from the behavior of a single man. If we know that the enemy is open to attack, but are unaware that our own men are not in a condition to attack, we have gone only halfway towards victory. The enlightened ruler lays his plans well ahead; the good general cultivates his resources. Spies are a most important element in war, because on them depends an army's ability to move." See more


Georg Berger

"Both Clausewitz and Sun Tzu remain relevant to understanding contemporary conflicts. Clausewitz's writings on offense and defense, combined with the ideas expressed in his Bekenntnisschrift, offer analytical insight into modern-day guerrilla warfare. Sun Tzu's broader approach to war corresponds to the continuing relevance of the strategic dimensions of war. Clausewitz's timeless and universal definition of war, combined with his "floating" trinity concept, helps explain the dynamics of all types of contemporary wars. Sun Tzu's thoughts on intelligence are useful for accounting for the difficulties states face when engaging in asymmetrical wars. Clausewitz's On War is more useful for understanding and outlining the nature of contemporary war." See more


"Deciphering Sun Tzu is primarily geared to the experienced strategic commentator as knowledge is needed to grasp some of the subtleties of the argument put forward. However, an inexperienced reader on the subject would still be able to gain the importance of understanding different culture and perspectives in which something is written, but they may lack the depth of knowledge specifically targeted in the book." See more