Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle Reading App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Sun Wu wrote "The Art of War" with which so many people are familiar. His descendant, Sun Bin (the Sun family family name comes first) was also a military theorist, and wrote his own treatise. Sun Bin's text was lost for centuries; a fragmentary version was only recently discovered. This "Art of War" is a new classic - not a contradiction in terms.
Even with Cleary's extensive commentary, it's a very short book. The advice is clear and applicable: "Be trustworthy as an ordinary matter of course," "Courtesy and harshness must be intermixed," "Experts at warfare see the strengths of opponents, and thereby know their weaknesses." Cleary's commentary pushes this into the modern corporate world, likening R&D to the elite advanced troops - well, analogies can be pushed too far. The specifics of military strategy are here, too, as well as the philosophical generalities. In particular, Sun Bin addresses the personal failings that make military losses inevitable. That includes commanders who are arrogant, impulsive, lax, vicious, or have other faults. Likewise, he addresses the right and wrong ways to use soldiers of different kinds, terrain and swamps, rivers, and subterfuge. Despite philosophical moments, its concrete style generally complements Sun Wu's tendency towards generalities.
There's a lot here for students of Asian classics and for military theorists. It won't be the centerpiece of a collection, but it's a worthwhile addition to either kind. Whatever your interest, Cleary's modern and readable style makes the reading a pleasure.
Was this review helpful to you?