“The Art of War” – Book Review

art of war

He who only sees the obvious, wins his battles with difficulty; he who looks beneath the surface of things, wins with ease.

– Sun Tzu

The Art of War by Sun Tzu is one of the most renowned texts on strategy of all time.

The tactics detailed within this book can be applied to every single realm of life (career, socialization, seduction, etc).

I immediately noticed parallels between Sun Tzu’s way of being and other noted works on power such as The Book of Five Rings.

It’s apparent to me that truth is one, although it can be interpreted in many different ways. What matters most is that your own unique approach to the game leads to optimal results.

Such a design is the epitome of DOMINANCE.

Life is war and the root principle of strategy is deceit. It’s imperative that you know others, while shrouding your own intentions under a veil of secrecy (selective honesty).

Keep your disposition invisible.

Know the enemy, know yourself, and you will win. If you know yourself but not your enemy, you will suffer defeat for every victory. If you know neither yourself or the enemy, your destruction is certain. Knowing the enemy allows you to take the offensive, while knowing yourself enables you to stand on the defensive.

The opposite state of a given situation should always be present within your mind. This is what allows you to adjust your strategy to a particular enemy.

He who lets an advantage slip will subsequently bring about himself real disaster. -S.T.

The clever strategist imposes his will on the enemy but does not let the enemy’s will be imposed on him. You must always control your own variables, so that you are never reliant on the enemy’s moves.

The great general maintains appearances in order to make the enemy dance to his tune. He does this by adapting his own form to a given situation.

Sometimes he makes sacrifices through the use of bait so as to discern his enemy’s weaknesses.

Bait is what forces the enemy to reveal himself. When his Achilles’ heel is discovered, you can attack ruthlessly while disregarding more fortified positions.

You can ensure the safety of your own defense by holding positions that are impervious to attack. Concentrate your forces, while dividing the enemy’s. Power that is evenly dispersed is evenly weak.

The difficulty of tactical maneuvering consists in turning the devious into the direct, and misfortune into gain. -S.T.

Strike with quickness and precision. The good fighter will be slow in his onset, but rapid in his decision. While it is foolish to act brashly without a plan, cleverness has never been associated with long delays.

Speed is sometimes injudicious, but tardiness is always foolish. Lengthy operations drain valuable resources, and time is always of the essence. The value of time is in being multiple steps ahead of your opponent.

The number one objective must always be victory above all else. Either act boldly or not at all. Force the enemy to rush, while you yourself remain calm.

You will win if you are prepared and the enemy is unprepared.

Hoard your strength. Save your energy for when it is necessary. You will win when you know when to fight and when not to fight. You will win when you know how to handle both superior and inferior forces. Do not take action unless there is something to be gained. Unnecessarily exerting your power will lead to your eventual defeat. Reserve your fire for when it will be the most effective.

Seizing strategical advantages are more important than indulging in immediate comfort.

Adhering to a mental code can be more strenuous than the physical hardships of battle. Spirit is everything. Attack when yours is high and the enemy’s low. If you cannot inflict defeat in a situation, it’s better to retreat than to overtax your resources.

Always strive to use your power in the manner most conducive to success. When you engage the enemy on your own terms, you force him to play with the cards you have dealt.

Presence of mind is the general’s most important asset. it is this quality which enables him to discipline disorder and to inspire courage into the panic-stricken. -S.T.

Morale (mental state) is half the struggle in implementing a successful strategy. Discipline must be absolute. There should be complete certainty among your subjects that merit will be rewarded and insolence punished. This is what allows you to take any form.

A weak appearance should only be a facade.

You must possess the opposite of a feigned weakness if you intend to use it as a strategical force. Indulgence is the death of discipline. Inconsistency leads to a lack of respect/power. It means that your frame is weak.

The great leader cultivates his own moral law, and strictly adheres to method and the way of strategy. This is what allows him to control success. A disciplined force accustomed to victory has a gigantic advantage over one demoralized by defeat.

The strategist’s mind must be resilient enough to deflect shame and appeals to ego. Sensitivity to criticism is a bad thing. Too much concern leads to worry and trouble. Never rectify minor blunders and petty doubts.

Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting. -S.T.

The best strategy is to conquer your foe while inflicting the least amount of damage possible. The highest form of generalship is to thwart the enemy’s plans. Expect him by delivering your own attack first.

A small difference in numbers is often more than counterbalanced by superior energy and discipline.

If your enemy is noticeably overpowering, you always have the option of taking flight. Strategic retreat does NOT make you a coward. One mark of a great soldier is that he fights on his own terms or not at all.

If you do not wish to fight, you should throw something odd and unaccountable in the enemy’s way. Puzzle him with strange and unusual dispositions (timely bluff).

It is crucial that you assemble a crew that knows how to play to its strengths. This allows you to use combined energy. An army that is equally animated (consistent force of rhythm) throughout its ranks will win.

Every member must bring something unique to the table.

The master general does not ally himself with all. He chooses his associates wisely. He does not demand perfection from the untalented.

Allying oneself with neighboring forces is unwise if the general is unaware of the intentions of said forces. Get rid of all domestic (internal) troubles before engaging your foe.

Attack is the secret of defense; defense is the planning of an attack. -S.T.

Plan til the end… the more calculations you make, the more certainly you will win. Success is easier when generals are free from the whims of a petty bureaucracy. This allows the general freedom of choice.

It is your own responsibility to secure yourself against defeat. Guard against decisive blows, and acquiesce small misfortunes to avoid greater ones.

The opportunity to defeat the enemy is provided by the enemy himself. The good fighter can easily protect himself against defeat, but he cannot make certain of beating his enemy. One may know how to conquer without being able to do it (theory vs. experience). Making no mistakes establishes the certainty of victory because it means your enemy has already been defeated.

Everybody can see superficially how a battle is won; what they cannot see is the long series of plans and combinations which preceded the battle. -S.T.

Fighting appears direct on the surface, yet indirect tactics are required in order to seize victory. During the heat of battle, there may be seeming disorder, but no real disorder at all.

Avail yourself of natural advantages in every way possible. This allows you to achieve more with less. Let the enemy wear himself out among tough terrain. Hold higher ground, and force the enemy to fight uphill.

Indirect tactics, efficiently applied, are inexhaustible as heaven and earth, unending as the flow of rivers and streams; like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew; like the four seasons, they pass away to return once more. -S.T.

One can make an infinite array of combinations out of limited options. Both the direct and indirect methods of attack give the general a colorful palate of opportunities. There are no constant conditions. Elements are not always equally predominant. Self-restraint must be combined with the ability to recognize the right moment to strike.

With discipline, you can take any form with conviction.

Being versed in the way of strategy allows one to foresee an event before the action has begun. Possessing the ability to look into the future and discern conditions that have yet to manifest will grant you victory. Nothing is to be achieved in warfare (life) unless you are willing to take risks.

Let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances -S.T.

Committing to a campaign with complete and total conviction is the deadliest weapon of all. When you burn your boats to the ground and press forward, there is no choice but to fight to the death. Staking all is a guaranteed means to victory.

You do not press an army that has nothing to lose. An animal that is cornered will strike with unparalleled viciousness.

When you have multiple safety nets, you start to think of reasons to slide back towards comfort. Giving yourself the option of either victory or death will let you achieve more than you could have ever imagined.

It’s all or nothing.

Reading this book changed my entire outlook on life. I highly recommend it for anyone who intends to reach their maximum potential. Our world works upon certain formulas, and it is imperative that you understand them (game) so that you come out on top.

Why is it that rich people all think the same way?

They have an extensive comprehension of how the universe operates, allowing them to avoid the traps that ensnare countless others.

If you are interested in learning more, check out The Art of War.

Affiliate disclaimer: If you decide to purchase this book through one of these links, I receive a commission at no additional cost to you. I rarely recommend products, but when I do, it’s because I’ve used them myself and trust them 100%.


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