Friday, April 6, 2007

The Art of War

By Sun Tzu

This is the book I started reading around five years back. I saw it lying in the drawer of my boss. It was love at first sight. Since then, I have never left it.

This book was written by Sun Tzu around 3000 years back. Was it written by him, or compiled by him is still unknown. The book is juice of Chinese tactics of warfare. It is greatly inspired by Taoism. As the book is in Chinese, we get to read only the translations. Lots of authors have tried to translate it and present the exact notions of Master Sun Tzu. But none have succeeded much. I have referred to the translation by Thomas Cleary.

The book says that the great warrior is not the one, who wins the war by fighting it, but is the one who wins it without fighting it. The book has lot of quotes inspired by Taoism. My favorite one among them is:-

“Deep knowledge is to be aware of disturbance before disturbance, to be aware of danger before danger, to be aware of destruction before destruction, to be aware of calamity before calamity.
By deep knowledge of principle, one can change disturbance into order, change danger into safety, change destruction into survival, change calamity into fortune.”

The book is divided into 13 chapters covering all the major areas of war
Strategic Assessments
Doing Battle
Planning a Siege
Emptiness and Fullness
Armed Struggle
Maneuvering Armies
Nine Groups
Fire Attack
On the use of Spies

There are five parameters of assessing the war scenario of different armies involved. These are The Way, The Whether, The Terrain, The Leadership and The Discipline. Based on these parameters general can determine whether his army will win or loose, before going to war.

Though the book was written from the perspective of ground warfare, but the wisdom in it can be very well applied to any war like situation even today. It could be personal enmity, business situation or any other scenario. Lot of business leaders, army generals and politicians follow it religiously today also.

Once I discussed with one of my mentors that I have been reading it since last 5 years but every time I read it, it seems totally a new book to me, and till date I have been only been able to absorb 20% out of it. According to him, he has been reading it since last 30 years and could absorb only 40% of it. He further discussed that if we can assimilate all the wisdom in it in few years, then what would be the difference between Master Sun Tzu and us.

This is the book to be presented to your friends and kept away from your enemies.
More information about it can be found on


Anonymous said...

This is an all time Prabal favourite. He has suggested this to all from/to his GF's (I wonder if he ever had any) to the faculty at TIET... and has used a lot himself to ignite the fighter in him...

I read this book after observing this guy practicing what has been written... Try it guys its a pleasure reading and a prized possession...

Prabal Aggarwal said...

It seems this anonymous commentator knows me really well. so man at least reveal ur identity. if not in open, then mail to me at
And watsoever you have commented is 100% true.