The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Ummm, 17th, you *do* realize "the Art of War" is like the first text in Officer's school, right? Everything else about war as a philosophy is based on that ancient book. Everything.
Meaning I thought you were ex-military? Surely an ex-military man would understand if anybody could.
Kill 10, control 10,000...

yes it is first reading...

the trick is, knowing which 10 to kill...

Q makes a good point...

123: What I mean is like.... Dunno... It's just like... *thinks back to the book* If you out number your enemy attack him lol, if you are weaker in numbers attack if you want but make sure you can withdraw.... If you are completley out matched run!Wow what a freaking genius....... I mean come on.... To me most of that book is either out dated or just common sense(battlefield common sense)

Do all the officers in this officer club 123, really learn what this book is saying? A quote I can always recall, yet I can recall many situations where it has been ignored.... Tzu say: The thing is to take the enemy's country intact and whole, to shatter and destroy it is not good. So too it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it.... something like that...

What happened at the end of WWI? We all signed to say what we were taking and ripped the lands of Germany bare.... Then what happened? Oh... WWII. Something about Israel comes to mind also... I guess that bit is a gem... lol But there is much in it which makes me think... "meh".

Everything based on it? Well to a degree yeah..... I could go back in time and make a crappy book about physics lol, (crappy cause of my ability) but it would be rough in detail and so on but because it is the FIRST of course everything else is going to follow from it.... But will be much better lol
hmmm The Art of War huh?

I had 3 different translations of this text, one I gave away as a birthday present. This one (by R. L. Wing) was suited more to personal development then military tactics. The two I have now are purely for military theory. I will recommend them to you Juan depending on what aspects of his theory interest you more. Try the McNeilly and Sawyer ones if your looking more at the military aspects. But these are all a little dated, I haven't seen any of the newer ones.

As for how useful this text is... well, I have to say that when I first read its principles like a decade ago, I was very impressed. There is still a lot of useful advise, (other then the obvious), the most important concept which it contains is the idea of attacking your opponent's strategy, instead of his army. Basically: find out what your opponent wants (his goal) and then attack that goal. Do not attack him directly. This is the key concept which is very unique to the Art of War. The emphasis placed on winning without actually engaging in combat. I love this, and I think its the most advanced concept contained in the entire text. Of course this is easier said then done.

In order to do this you need to focus on two things which were absent from Western military thinking until WWII: Intelligence and Counter-intelligence. These capabilities allow you to make your opponent think your going to do something, and as soon as he believes what you want him to believe: you own him. Up until the point when Sun Tzu became the standard text, Clausewitz was much more influential on Western militaries. Hence the emphasis in head-to-head battles on open battlefields. Always engaging in a decisive battle is key to Clausewitz. He also does not focus much on intell, so this entire aspect of warfare was not really a factor in most European war planning.

But Alex is right, a lot of it is common sense. This is the reason why you do not really have to read it too many times. Because it contains principles which, if you understand them once you can internalize them very quickly. The hard part is training yourself to apply these principles in real life. That takes time.

My only problem with this text is the confidence that Sun Tzu places in his 'calculations'... The idea that if anyone follows his directions perfectly is guaranteed victory, is absurd. Also, the fact that the most successful general in history (Khalid Bin Walid) won over a hundred battles (without ever being defeated) never even heard of Mr. Sun Tzu... so what does that tell ya?

Also you will notice that even in Europe, the greatest generals who emerged were following principles similar to the ones contained in Sun Tzu without ever (as far as I know) having read The Art of War. I am referring here to Napoleon, but even more, to Helmuth Von Moltke, the Prussian Commander who basically decimated Austrian and French armies. (Not 2 be confused with his idiot nephew responsible for the WWI fiasco, who has the same name) The concept of concentration of forces, and their logistical considerations which was near perfected by the Prussians, is very similar to the guidelines contained in The Art of War. Remember where Sun Tzu talks about seperating your forces so that you can feed and maneuver them properly? And making sure to organize their transportation so that they are not gettin in each other's way? This is exactly what the Prussians did, without ever having read Sun Tzu, because it is "common sense" (but apparently common sense isn't all that common, cuz these concepts were apparently "revolutionary" in Europe at the time).

Also, the idea that a smaller force can defeat a larger one by concealing its plan, this was applied by Moltke, even though he was primarily a follower of Clausewitz. The Austrians were spread out, so the Prussians concentrated only in strategic points where they wanted to attack. This is exactly what Sun Tzu was talking about like thousands of years ago!

This text is definitely a must read for anyone who is interested in the martial aspects of life, but even more important is to always remember the fact of life which was stated by Moltke: "No plan survives first contact with the enemy" Even if you plan everything the way Sun Tzu says, victory, is most assuredly in the hands of God. Just go ask the British and French navies that tried to capture Istanbul in WWI and couldn't due to the 'mysterious circumstances' which came about out of nowhere. Or ask Napoleon at Waterloo... I mean you can have the best general in the world, and the most experienced troops at his command, but what do you do if your general is apparently heart-broken cuz his wife cheated on him, and simply refuses to pay attention to what is happening on the battlefield? Stuff like that you just can't "calculate" can ya? (that is the actual explanation if you can believe it, but I have my own "theories" of why Napoleon lost... but we'll leave those alone)

So basically, Moltke was more accurate then Sun Tzu when he said that all war planning is basically choosing from a set of options. Its like predicting the weather: you are 80% sure of what will happen tomorrow, but the day after that figure goes down to like 40%. It is the same with war planning (and all planning in life akshully)... You should plan for the next step, and then re-evaluate the situation and react to the realities on the ground every step of the way. Keep your goals general, don't get tunnel vision.

Basically the way I would state it is thus: let Tactical Realities have precedence over your Strategic Plans.

p.s. Alex is ex-military!!! whoa dude and here i thought u were a hippie pothead (like most of my friends!!) lol : p
p.s. Alex is ex-military!!! whoa dude and here i thought u were a hippie pothead (like most of my friends!!) lol : p

Sure am. :)

One can only take so much and needs to moderate... Killing, hate aggression I've had my fill.... But also need to moderate everything else.... Like that baz luhman(sp?) song.... Live in so an so... but leave before you become too hard, live in so and so, but leave before you become too soft..... I would say I am evenly balanced now lol... Just not mentally.....
Sure am. :)

One can only take so much and needs to moderate... Killing, hate aggression I've had my fill.... But also need to moderate everything else.... Like that baz luhman(sp?) song.... Live in so an so... but leave before you become too hard, live in so and so, but leave before you become too soft..... I would say I am evenly balanced now lol... Just not mentally.....

Oh dude!!! I know that song!! That was from the end-credits of that
movie The Big Kahuna right?? (watch it if you haven't already)
"Live in NY but leave before it makes you hard,
and live in California but leave b4 it makes you soft."

haven't seen! but I will do now!

one other thought.... Strategy;

a plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result: a strategy for getting ahead in the world.

But, if everyone uses the same play book.... They gonna see you coming a mile off.... The best strategy is the untold one.
Good critique, c0de!

Thanks everybody!

Von Clausewitz, that's the other guy I was trying to think of. I hear they also now use a book written by the Vietnamese general that held off the American forces, and the French before them, General Vo Nguyen Giáp.
Like that baz luhman(sp?) song.... Live in so an so... but leave before you become too hard, live in so and so, but leave before you become too soft.....

Do you mean the commencement address often attributed to Kurt Vonnegut?:

Kurt Vonnegut's Commencement Address at MIT
Please note: the following speech has spread all over the Internet as "Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT". The truth is that Vonnegut had never delivered this address. How did this happen? If you are interested,
just click and read my article about this Vonnegut story.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen."

Author: Mary Schmich (USA)
First published: July 1, 1997
Copyright: Herald Tribune

Kurt Vonnegut's Commencement Address at MIT - the speech Vonnegut never delivered -
Have you seen the film of the book?

It's called Red Cliff :)