The Art of War Book Review - Armchair Empire

The Art of War Book Review

Well, just a few days ago I was reading The Art of War, and while sipping on a cup of coffee today, an idea came into my head. Why not write a review about it? Well, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War certainly doesn’t need too much of a build-up because people have probably heard about it. This short yet very informative book, written by one of the most successful General in the Chinese Army. Written thousands of years ago, this book is still n considered to be one of the most amazing books. And the best part? It is not that long as well!!

Reading ‘The Art of War’

After finishing the book, I realized two things about it: one that it is an incredibly short book that can end in a single day, and two that every separate chapter and line has its meaning. Writing a review of the book is undoubtedly a tough task as the content itself is very terse and it is not easy to summarize such an extensive material in a short blog type review. With each chapter providing a bullet-pointed list of the different military pieces of advice, the structure becomes entirely diverse and dense. Such a context makes it difficult to summarize it. However, I am going to try and do that. So shall we start with it?

If you read the book, you will get an idea that in most parts of The Art of War, the content of Sun Tzu applies to the modern situation of the today’s generation. A line from the book that says “Consider your enemy’s personality defects and use them to your advantage” can certainly be considered as a great form of advice. Also, the line saying “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” is something that is so related that no one could argue with it.

Apart from the modern day relatable examples, there are other statements in the book that are just specific to the age and circumstances of his time. There are specific segments of the book that the author very carefully uses to describe the hidden meaning. One such line is in the Second chapter of the book, where the author advises about avoiding a particular ‘prolonged war’ which is good advice. But then, a prolonged war is the one that doesn’t last more than a week. And that inevitably excludes the World Wars.  

Several Other Documents from the Book

There are several other implications in the book that documents the specific costs associated with measured silver which keeps for every single troop that remains on the ground. These expenses are laughable in the new and polished era of industrial-military complex. Also, during some extensive quotations of the book, the overall tone doesn’t fit into the truths and facts of today. At the very beginning of the book, I Chapter 1; author Sun Tzu very intelligently states that the dependence of war is all on deception ad treason and he also offers different useful tools for keeping the villain in the unknown and the dark. But while he says that keeping your enemy in the dark is a good thing, he thoroughly contradicts his statements at the end of the book. Stressing the importance of maintaining the allies and the friendly troops confuse firmly contradict his statement.

The more I went on further with the book, the more I couldn’t help but think about the situation of the Chinese military General. What he had to put up with, in the ancient army of the Chinese. With the book, we cannot help but reflect on our military arrangements and think about the facts. The fact being the truth about all the other militaries with their soldiers and weapons in the foreign and the domestic sections of the world.

One of the most significant questions that I faced while reading the book was that whether the words written by an ancient military General, ages ago, can be a help to the new and improved military practices. It is true that author Sun Tzu doesn’t fail to provide the useful points for every single situation of the war-front. The title, The Art of War, clearly justifies the content of the book. What remains the best part of the book is that instead of being from an ancient time, the book provides excellent knowledge about the tricks and tips in the war-front.

With the fantastic attitude of Sun Tzu completely visualized in the book, it is safe to say that the quote ‘Be Prepared’ from the album does complete justice to the text that ties the whole book together. Even though the ideas of the Author are a bit far from the new and improved methods of military practices, however, the views and the teachings are pretty useful, to be honest.

The Message

The singular message that you need to know about the book is to see the enemy, know yourself and your team, and then you will be able to understand what exactly to do in the battle. This advice applies to the modern day tactics as well. Whether you are standing up against an army of books or terrorists, only by proper knowledge of your enemy and yourself, you will be able to achieve the heights of winning. It is one of the most important and highlighted messages in the whole text.

My Final Verdict

The book with its interesting pieces of advice and a great outlook on the trials of war and how to overcome them prove to be a fantastic read at a time. Even though most of the components are not relatable to the present day and face of war, but that doesn’t mean that it is not relatable at all. With joint concepts about the war advice from both the past and the present, The Book of Art indeed can be construed as a book worth reading.  

About author: Lesley Hummings is enjoying her maternity leave in the middle of university studies. However, she’s in touch with the academic routine and is regularly sharing some of her writing findings in