The Art of War

  • Author: Sun Tzu 
  • Genre: Career & Success 
The Art of War by Sun Tzu: 9781590302255 | Books

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The Art of War is a 5th-century book written by the Chinese strategist Sun-Tzu. Covering all aspects of warfare, it seeks to advise commanders on how to prepare, mobilize, attack, defend, and treat the vanquished. The strategies in the book have been studied by lots of modern-day Asian politicians.

Who is it for?

While The Art of War entails strategies for war, anyone in a leadership position today can benefit from The Art of War.

Chapter 1 – Strategic Assessments

“Measure in terms of five things, use these assessments to make a comparison and thus find out what the conditions are. The five things are the way, the weather, the terrain, the leadership, and discipline.” – Sun Tzu

“The terrain is to be assessed in terms of distance, difficulty or ease of travel, dimensions, and safety.” – Sun Tzu

“Leadership is a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humanness, courage, and sternness.” – Sun Tzu

Chapter 2 – Doing battle

“When you do battle, even if you are winning, if you continue for a long time it will dull your forces and blunt your edge; if you besiege a citadel, your strength will be exhausted. If you keep your armies out in the field for a long time, your supplies will be insufficient.” – Sun Tzu

“When your forces are dulled, your edge is blunted, your strength is exhausted, and your supplies are gone, then others will take advantage of your debility and rise up. Then even if you have wise advisers you cannot make things turn out well in the end.” – Sun Tzu

Chapter 3 – Planning a siege

“Those who win every battle are not really skillful, those who render other’s armies helpless without fighting are the best of all” – Sun Tzu

“When the opponent is just beginning to plan it’s strategy, it is easy to strike.” – Cao Cao

“Just when the opponent is setting up a plan to mobilize its forces, if your army strikes and suppresses them, that is best. Therefore one of the great warrior emperors said, “Those who are good at getting rid of trouble are those who take care of it before it arises; those who are good at overcoming opponents are those who win before there is form.” – Du You

Chapter 4 – Formation

“Defense is for times of insufficiency, attack is for times of surplus” – Sun Tzu

“What everyone knows is not called wisdom, victory over others by forced battle is not considered good.” – Wang Xi

Chapter 5 – Force

“When you meet opponents head-on, with coordinated surprise attacks all around, you can always win and never lose.” – Jia Lin

“In battle, confrontation is done directly, victory is gained by surprise.” – Sun Tzu

“If you presume on order, disorder will arise. If you presume on courage and strength, timidity and weakness will arise.” – Jia Lin

Chapter 6 – Emptiness and Fullness

“Those who are first on the battlefield and await the opponents are at ease; those who are last on the battlefield and head into battle get worn out.” – Sun Tzu

“Therefore good warriors cause others to come to them, and do not go to others.” – Sun Tzu

“Lure them with something to gain, and opponents will be tired while you are at ease.” – Ho Yanxi

Chapter 7 – Armed Struggle

“Fool opponents into taking it easy, then make haste.” – Sun Tzu

“A military force is established by deception in the sense that you deceive enemies so that they do not know your real condition, and then can establish supremacy. It is mobilized by gain in the sense that it goes into action when it sees an advantage. Dividing and recombining is done to confuse opponents and observe how they react to you, so that then you can adapt in such a way as to seize victory.” – Sun Tzu

Chapter 8 – Adaptations

“There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must not be attacked, towns which must not be besieged, positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.” – Sun Tzu

“The considerations of the intelligent always include both benefit and harm. As they consider benefit, their work can expand; as they consider harm, their troubles can be resolved.” – Sun Tzu

Chapter 9 – Maneuvering Armies

“On a level plateau, take up positions where it is easy to maneuver, keeping higher land to your right rear, with low ground in front and high ground behind. This applies to an army on a plateau.” – Sun Tzu

Chapter 10 – Terrain

“When the generals are weak and lack authority, instructions are not clear, officers and soldiers lack consistency, and they form battle lines every which way, this is riot. When the generals cannot assess opponents, clash with much greater numbers or more powerful forces, and do not sort out the levels of skill among their own troops, these are the ones who get beaten.” – Sun Tzu

Chapter 11 – Nine Grounds

“When you enter others’ land but not deeply this is called light ground.” – Sun Tzu

“When you will survive if you fight quickly and perish if you do not, this is called dying ground.” – Sun Tzu

Chapter 12 – Fire Attack

“To win in battle or make a successful siege without rewarding the meritorious is unlucky and earns the name of stinginess. Therefore it is said that an enlightened government considers this, an good military leadership rewards merit. They do not mobilize when there is no advantage, do not act when there is nothing to gain, do not fight when there is no danger.” – Sun Tzu

Chapter 13 – On the use of spies

“Whenever you want to attack an army, besiege a city, or kill a person, first you must know the identities of their defending generals, their associates, their visitors, their gatekeepers, and their chamberlains, so you have your spies find out.” – Sun Tzu

“You must seek out enemy agents who have come to spy on you, bribe them and induce them to stay with you, so you can use them as reverse spies. By intelligence thus obtained, you can find local spies and inside spies to employ. By intelligence thus obtained, you can cause the misinformation of dead spies to be conveyed to the enemy. By intelligence thus obtained, you can get living spies to work as planned.” – Sun Tzu


It is hard for us to capture all of the lessons taught in this book. We are going to be releasing content teaching lessons from this book soon, stay tuned!

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