Every once in a while you read a book that transcends it’s purpose of being a reading material to becoming a guide to a way of life. The Art of War by Sun Tzu is one such mindset altering book. Some people refer to it as the Bible of all leadership books, and for good reasons. Written in circa 500-300 B.C. by Sun Tzu, the General of the Kingdom of Wu under King Ho Lu. He was chiefly a strategist, and wrote the Art of War, after noticing which, the King made him the General of his Army. His army was undefeated for the two decades he was alive since then. So when someone with such credentials writes something, the wise thing to do is read it. A legend says this book was the key to Napoleon’s victories.
The book itself was written in ancient Chinese in the form of verses for the most part, so the translator Lionel Giles, who translated the work in 1910 has done a fine job to convert it into meaningful English text. Understanding that the text could be simplified even more, James Clavell eased up the translation even further for better understanding and added few notes of Giles under relevant passages. You will experience the verse like structure in many places, and that may make the reading a bit slow, and the Chinese names make it even slower for the reader to understand some of the inspiring incidents mentioned in the book to emphasize on the teachings. But trust me, it is totally worth the hard work.
The reason this book is so instrumental in a leader’s grooming is because it touches a lot on handling an organisation driven largely by human resource. Yes, the book is primarily an Infantry focused manual for every General, and yes, some chapters like Terrain which teach how to act in the nuances of varied lands during a war seem to be obsolete in modern Geoinformatics driven warfare. But even in them, there is still a lesson or two to be learnt. I feel this book is to be learnt by heart by not only ALL Defense and Government personnel, but also by civilian Leaders and CEOs in the Corporate and Start-up world because of the above mentioned emphasis on handling your human resource – your army. Our world, no matter how technologically advanced, is primarily and wholly dependent on good men, and their success depends 100% on how their leaders groom them, empathize with them, motivate them, discipline them and ultimately lead them to success in the worst of circumstances.
The book focuses a lot on knowing yourself, and knowing your enemy. If you fail to know either, your loss is eminent. If you are neck to neck with your competition, this book just might be the difference between both of you. Though only 81 pages, this book demands a lot of patience and even more rumination for the perfect real life implementation. Which is why, this is not one of the books you borrow from a Library, this is one of the epics you should pride yourself owning a hard paper copy of.
You can get your hands on it on Amazon.in or Amazon.com. I strongly suggest all budding and existing leaders to read this, and if possible own this epic book that is the Art Of War.
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)
Kshitij runs The Patil Post and Zetabyte Solutions Pvt. Ltd. - a web development company focussed on E-Commerce implementations. Loves to eat, sell, write and talk. He is an avid reader, an enthusiastic traveller and trekker at heart.
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