John Harder's Reviews > The Art of War

The Art of War by Sun Tzu
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Jul 26, 2011


Business leaders have been using this book for decades for the lessons it provides regarding everyday activities. Sun Tzu says in order to maintain a cohesive unit it is necessary to strike a perfect balance of discipline and kindness. Therefore I presume the advocates of this book would say that when the barista doesn’t leave room for cream when you specifically asked for it, it is appropriate to gouge out her eye with a spork, but then immediately call for medical help and pay for the hospital bills.



Tzu’s analytical approach to war reminds me of Grant’s battle agenda. He was able to do the bloody math necessary to win the war. Ultimately this approach is much more humane than the alternative.



Interestingly Tzu does not romanticize war. There is no shame in avoiding battle. Turning tail and running is not dishonorable and may eventually benefit both honor and country. Reciprocally Tzu would have never dithered about bombing Hanoi – when an opportunity opens, press it and press it hard.



This is a thin little book and a classic. Therefore you should give it a read. You can get the warm glow of being well read without reading that much. Also the next time you are at the coffee shop and are served by the one-eyed, yet adoring barista, you will have the comfort of looking superior when you companions discuss the best way of handling barbarians at the gate.

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