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Sun Tzu and the Art of Business: Six Strategic Principles for Managers Hardcover – November 14, 1996

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Editorial Reviews


"K-Mart, AT&T, Xerox, and General Motors would have saved themselves billions of dollars if their past CEO's had read this book."--Philip Kotler, J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University

"This practical introduction to Sun Tzu's ideas will help U.S. business leaders to quickly overcome their international rivals' incredible head start in exploiting Sun Tzu's wisdom.... Mr. McNeilly deserves the thanks of American business. His new book is the best of the four American attempts at the difficult feat of converting Sun Tzu's seminal Ping Fa--or The Art of War, as it's called in the West--into a usable guide for strategic managers."--David I. Goldenberg Strategy and Leadership

"Finally someone wrote a book on The Art of War that makes sense."--Bryan Bloom, Chief Operating Officer, The C/W Company

"This book is fun and serious...a fast and interesting read. I recommend it to anyone interested in strategy."--Academy of Management Executives

"If you've ever felt that business is like war, a new business book based on the teachings of an ancient Chinese warrior has much to offer."--Entrepreneur Magazine

About the Author

Mark R. McNeilly is a strategist for IBM as well as an amateur military historian and former infantry and artillery officer. He lives in Apex, North Carolina.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st Printing edition (November 14, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195099966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195099966
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #581,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark is the author of two books on Sun Tzu's Art of War as well a one on George Washington and business leadership.

Sun Tzu and the Art of Business: Six Strategic Principles for Managers helps business people apply Sun Tzu's strategic philosophy to business problems. With this book now updated in 2011 and translated into five different languages.

Sun Tzu and the Art of Modern Warfare was created for those who have an interest in how Sun Tzu's ideas have been applied in military history and current warfare. First published in 2001 Mark is working on updating it for publication in 2014.

George Washington and the Art of Business: Leadership Principles of America's First Commander-in-Chief, was published in January of 2008 and applies Washington's leadership lessons to business.

Mark has presented to thousands of people about Sun Tzu's ideas on strategy in the U.S. Europe and Asia, including 3M, IBM, the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals, and the US Air Force Command and Staff College. Mark has also discussed his ideas on strategy on the BBC, C-SPAN, CNBC's TV Show Power Lunch, the Business News Network program Market Track, the Voice of America's Weekly Business Report, Bloomberg's business news, the syndicated radio program Secrets of Success and numerous other TV and radio programs. He most recently appeared as a guest analyst on the History Channel Special on Sun Tzu's Art of War in May 2009.

Mark is a Lecturer at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where he teaches marketing. He is a former marketing executive whose thirty year career at IBM and Lenovo includes experience in strategy, marketing and management. He is an Expert Blogger for Fast Company magazine. Mark served as a reserve officer (highest rank-Captain) in the U.S. Army National Guard from 1981-1987.

Mark lives in Cary, NC with his wife. His pastimes include sports, history and computer strategy simulations.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
Sun Tzu's, The Art of War, has been favorite reading of mine for 30 years. I was pleasantly surprised by the new and improved understanding I obtained of that book from reading this one.
Most military strategists agree that Sun Tzu's The Art of War (circa 400 B.C.) is essential reading. Since around 1960, many business strategists have felt the same way, through seeing his discussion of war as a metaphor for business competition. Since Sun Tzu did not write about business directly, this has made The Art of War a little less than fully accessible to many business people. This book presents a very successful rewriting of Sun Tzu's classic to make it more "about business" while keeping a military connection. This book also contains a full translation of The Art of War by Samuel B. Griffith so you can compare this reinterpreted material to the original. I found that comparison especially useful.
The author has developed six principles for managers from Sun Tzu's concepts:
(1) Capture your market without destroying it or its profitability.
(2) Attack competitors where and when they least expect it and are most vulnerable.
(3) Make the best use of market information to develop advantages.
(4) Move faster than your competitor to create maximum confusion and delay in response.
(5) Pick strategies that will encourage your competitors to respond in ways favorable to you.
(6) Emphasize leadership built upon good character.
The author then goes a step further and proposes six implementation steps for employing these principles.
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In recent years, a great deal of nonsense has been published concerning similarities between the military battlefield and the business world. Authors frequently invoke military terms such as "attack", "ambush", "pre-emptive strike", "blitzkrieg" (or "blitz"), "no man's land", "chain of command", "firepower", "guerrilla", "kamikazi", "overkill", and "scorched-earth policy." Amidst all the other books in which forced comparisons are made, Mark McNeilly has written Sun Tzu and the Art of Business. He includes in his book the original (and superb) translation of The Art of War by Samuel B. Griffith.
Time and again, McNeilly stresses (as does Sun Tzu) the absolute importance of personal character. Respect and trust are earned, not conferred by title or decree. It remains for leaders to formulate the correct strategies as well as those tactics needed to implement them. It remains for leaders to allocate resources only where they will achieve the greatest possible success at the lowest acceptable cost. Whether the competition is on a battlefield or in a marketplace, the six principles discussed by McNeilly are appropriate to whatever strategy or strategies may be needed. Historically, the most successful armies and the most successful companies have shared much in common: meticulous preparation, superb timing, speed, maximum use of resources where they will have the greatest impact, sufficient intelligence on opponents, mobility, flexibility, and (above all) resolve.
In Sun Tzu and the Art of Business , McNeilly provides a brilliant analysis of six specific principles (first set to writing almost 2,500 years ago) which, he correctly suggests, will enable all manner of organizations to formulate appropriate strategies for the New Millennium.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By CARDINAL009 on August 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
Mr. McNeilly book on Sunzi (Sun Tzu)is one of my favorite books on practical strategic application. ...

As a sftwr developer-prjct mgmt consultant, found his ["Six Strategic Principles"] to be pragmatically effective in any strategic challenges. ...

Also, technically abstract enough where the reader(-implementer of the ["Six Strategic Principles"]) can devise their own spin to their own strategic challenges. ...

The examples that are introduced were efficient enough for me to understand. ...

Have successfully utilized [McNeilly's Six Principles] for different strategic scenarios (i.e., market research, product development, close quarters negotiation, etc.).

McNeilly's book is one of those few books that's worth re-reading once a year for a mental refresher course. ... (Yes! This Cardinal does re-read this book once per yr.)

Have recommend this book to my assoc(s). Also, given away many copies of this book to those who are interested in Sunzi Strategic Principles.

Overall, I find his writing to be extremely sharp; his ability to explain how to apply Sunzi (Sun Tzu) principles to military conflict and business is nothing short of extraordinary.

Recommend this book to anyone who is serious about strategy.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By F. Matz on August 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
McNeilly's book is a terrific introduction on how to apply the principles taught by this classic book on strategy.

As a marketing representative for my company, I use these principles everyday, in order to win business, and frustrate my competitors.

I always recommend McNeilly's books as a starting point to anyone wanting to learn about strategy.
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