The Art of War (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

The Art of War (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

“A clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.” So wrote Sun Tzu 2,500 years ago, and kings, soldiers, and statesmen have been turning to the Chinese master for his astute observations ever since.

Sun Tzu’s incisive blueprint for battlefield strategy is as relevant to today’s combatants in business, politics, and everyday life as it once was to the warlords of ancient China. The Art of War is one of the most useful books ever written on leading with wisdom, an essential tool for modern corporate warriors battling to gain the advantage in the boardroom and for anyone struggling to gain the upper hand in confrontations and competitions.

Here Lionel Giles’s famed 1910 translation, laced with commentary from illustrious Chinese experts, is brought up to date with relevant quotations from Western writers and thinkers. This new edition offers Sun Tzu’s timeless classic, both with and without annotation, making it more accessible to aspiring leaders and military strategists than ever before.

Dallas Galvin, a writer and journalist specializing in international affairs and the arts, has reported on military affairs in Latin America and Asia and produced documentaries for the NATO Alliance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593080174
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 06/01/2003
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 260
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt


From Dallas Galvin's Introduction to The Art of War

War is a howling, baying jackal. Or is it the animating storm? Suicidal madness or the purifying fire? An imperialist travesty? Or the glorious explosion of a virile nation made manifest upon the planet? In all recorded history, this debate is recent, as is the idea of peace to describe an active state happier than a mere interregnum between fisticuffs. Astounding as it may seem, war has consistently won the debate. In fact, it never had serious competition-not until August 24, 1898, anyway, when Czar Nicholas II of Russia called for an international conference specifically to discuss "the most effectual means" to "a real and durable peace." That was the first time nations would gather without a war at their backs to discuss how war might be prevented systematically. Nicholas was successful. His first Peace Conference was held in 1899. It was followed by a second, in 1907. These meetings gave rise to a process in which the world gained a common code of international laws.

It was a moment when peace and the trials of war were under the microscope of the civilized world. Off in a very quiet corner of this stage, there also appeared two scholars: one, a ghost, Sun Wu-this is Sun Tzu's actual name; Sun is the family name, and Tzu an honorific-a member of a Chinese clan of experts on arms and fighting, who had lived some 2,400 years earlier; the other, a librarian and student of the Chinese classics, Lionel Giles, who published his translation of The Art of War in 1910. He, too, was a son of eminence-his father was the great sinologist Herbert Giles-and he transported Sun Tzu's urgent injunctions on the nature of war across vast reaches of time and culture; the task was extraordinary, the impetus behind it almost saintly. The influence of the work of these two men colors our lives even as this text is written. But it did not come without effort, and even today, with a century of English-language scholarship on Asian literature, religion, and societies behind us, there is still much to puzzle the general reader.

World War I and its carnage would soon burst upon the world, leaving an estimated 25 million dead, twice the tally for all the wars of nineteenth-century Europe. Nicholas and his entire class would disappear amid the terrors of revolution in Russia, China, and Mexico, to name but the grandest uprisings. World War II would follow with no fewer than 60 million dead, and on its heels a whirl of wars for independence, civil wars, and the surrogate wars of Vietnam, Korea, Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East-all in all, a century-long testament to the failure of humanity's best intentions. It would be an odd soul who did not find himself feeling as Abraham Lincoln did in his Second Inaugural Address, on March 4, 1865, as the American Civil War was ending: "Fondly do we hope-fervently do we pray-that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away."

Yet it takes little experience to understand the futility of belligerence alone, as Sun Tzu wrote: "[H]e who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory" (chap. IV, paragraph 15). On the world front or the level of the individual, the issue is not force, not arms-it is strategy. In his study of Mao Tse-tung, modern warfare's most ardent student of Sun Tzu, Robert Payne notes: "Sun Wu's ideas on war are exceedingly adaptable, . . . nearly all of them demonstrating how the commander of a small force can overcome a powerful enemy, given suitable conditions of his own making. These apothegms have a peculiarly Chinese flavor, hardheaded, deeply philosophical, often showing a disturbing knowledge of the human soul under stress" (Robert Payne, Mao Tse-tung; see "For Further Reading"). But how did Sun Tzu know what he knew? Where did he get his information? Can we trust it?

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The Art of War 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 520 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have to say, this is the best interpretation of Sun Tzu¿s classic work I have read. The author focuses on the meanings behind this ancient Chinese war philosopher¿s writings. He puts them into a modern context, making them easy to understand. Sun Tzu's treatise on The Art of War is really a treatise on competitive advantage that applies not only to actual war but such things as getting a job, marketing, and any other competitive situation that you might come across. A deep understanding of competitive advantage, it is still the definitive text for understanding the concepts of how to come out on top in such situations. An easy book to read and understand on a basic level, it can take a lifetime to truly appreciate in on all levels and apply it to the various areas of your life. This translation still seems to be one of the best that I have seen. It is internally consistent between the translated concepts and so shows a level of knowledge and detail that is not present in some other translations. As a translator the author obviously sees the big picture. The Art of War contains both the complete translated text of Sun Tzu's enduring classic on battle strategy, and a modern-day interpretation packed with advice on leadership, learning to keep one's intentions a secret from one's opponents, leveraging advantages as the key to victory, and a great deal more. An excellent resource for anyone seeking self-improvement through internalizing Sun Tzu's wisdom, the Art of War is thoughtful and thought-provoking reading of the highest order. I don¿t think 'The Art of War' was meant to be a moral guide in the strict sense that we attribute to morality in Western civilization, in this particular era. In my opinion, Sun Tzu summarized all his personal experience on tactics and strategy (and perhaps other people's experience, too) in order to write a concise, logical and solid military manual. Military history is one of my biggest personal interests, and I've seen that it is possible to adapt Sun Tzu's ideas to most historical battlefields and eras. Not only does 'The Art of War' deal with maneuvers and tactics in the battlefield, it addresses everything a commander should take into account prior to engaging battle: logistics, intelligence, terrain, morale and last, but not least, the psychological understanding of the opponent. As I mentioned above, 'The Art of War' cannot be seen as guidance for the ethics and morality of our acts, nonetheless, it is a valuable instrument when it comes down to overcome daily life difficulties, it helps focus problems in such a way they can be solved systematically. And when it comes to use such knowledge against individuals, personal foes, it's important to keep on mind that it's best to beat an enemy without actually fighting overkill is not the best outcome most of the times.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is not merely a military or tactical manual - this is a book of pure wisdom. Sun Tzu was way ahead of his time in creating such an extraordinary guide to strategy and leadership, both in and out of combat. Read this book once, then read it again the advice and aphorisms that flow from it are infinite each time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a book full of wisdom and knowledge in the dealings of war. The concept of war can then be taken from the text and applied to all area of one's life. I have become a stronger individual after reading the book.
DonQuixote18 More than 1 year ago
While originally thought to be a manual for making and winning wars and battles, astute readers and practioners will find Sun Tzu's writing to be a way of living life. The priciaples of war ae there for certain but think, dig deeper and improve your life.
GiaTheBookWorm More than 1 year ago
on every bookshelf. Brilliant read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Its not what you say but how you say it....' In The Art of War Sun Tzu explained how important dicipline must be heard.
The_wonderous_Mutt More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book, but I don't want people to be deceived, it's dry. The driest martini in the world type of dry, the Sahara looks like a rain forest dry. It is meant to be educational and it is useful for creating your own philosophies and maybe a little bit useful in warfare (still great if you want to wage an ancient war). But not every reader that loves reading will understand why this is great. it is not an escape.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a good tool for anyone to use in order to get ahead in any career.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My hockey team went on a retreat about 9 months ago. We were told that we would be uncofortable. Over the course of a few days, our coach opened up Sun Tzu's work to us. He focused on the Chinese word 'tao', which means 'the way'. Sun Tzu used it to refer to battle, we used it to refer to a battle on the ice rink. We made our own tao and used it throughout the season. This is just one small way the book can relate to other things than war.
dessiiflychick More than 1 year ago
Sun Tzu and his book of knowledge was and is one of the greatest pieces of knowledge man has ever created. From war to the job his strategies are very applicable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found myself reading into Military strategies and this book popped up. Well just to put it plain and simple this is a great book. I loved how it taught strategies not only for war but for leadership in any situation.
gbautista72 More than 1 year ago
Amazing knowledge & wisdom on war tactics. Sun Tzu wrote & others observed these writing throughougt history. Sun Tzu wrote it's is better not to fight than to be involved in a conflict, but if you are going to have to fight, have your strategy and plan in place. I agree with this good summary of the lessons: "When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move." "In conflict, straightforward actions generally lead to engagement, surprising actions generally lead to victory." "Thus those skilled in war subdue the enemy's army without battle .... They conquer by strategy." "Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy, but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril." "In war, numbers alone confer no advantage." "To ... not prepare is the greatest of crimes; to be prepared beforehand for any contingency is the greatest of virtues." "What is of the greatest importance in war is extraordinary speed: One cannot afford to neglect opportunity." 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought that the book was very well written. I found that you have to attack from higher ground. Thats how it is in life and in war. I thought the book was very informational. It was written in a format that i could understand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While the wisdom of Sun Tzu remains infallible throughout the ages, the commentary of Lionel Giles is asinine, unwanted, and unavoidable in this edition of Art of War. Mixed in with the translation of the original text, Giles' notations are unneeded at best, but are distracting and then irritating most of the time as they disrupt the flow of Sun Tzu's counsel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent. A classic read.
1000_Character_Reviews More than 1 year ago
The Art of War has in recent decades been applied to such modern day problems as politics and business - really anything where conflict can surface. It was also suggested reading during my entire time in business school. So, I finally pulled the trigger and read the "original" (or at least the most well-regarded translation) The Art of War. The most impressive thing to me (which is explained in the introductory material) is how well the Chinese recorded their history. My only complaint about the introductory materials was that most great Chinese historical figures have multiple names - this makes it hard to track who is who in some of the commentaries. The actual strategies themselves are full of guidelines on determining your opponent's weaknesses, exploiting them and achieving victory. Not exactly full of moral or ethical advice, so I can't use much of it. I'm glad that I read it as it gave me a great look into Chinese history...but its practical use in my world is limited.
Franz_Bonaparta More than 1 year ago
As a United States Marine who served in Iraq as a sniper, I strongly recommend this book. Even though this book was written a long time ago this general knew what he was talking about this book has many philosophies that I enjoyed very much and even though I have not finished reading the book I am looking forward to reading the rest of it. For all those who love reading like I do take a read at this awesome book. I leave you all with this quote from the book. "Indirect tactics, efficiently applied, are inexhaustible as  Heaven and Earth, unending as the flow of rivers and streams; like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew; like the four season, they pass away to return once more". 
James_Durby21 More than 1 year ago
This book was cool. If you are creative enough you can apply this stuff to modern opposition in life. The only reason I didn't give it 5 is because some people might have trouble with the old references to war. Although it's still relative today, it might be a slow read in some spots. I just read an amazing book like this but for leadership and it has amazing references to life. Very similar. If you loved this book like I did then you will absolutely love the book "Don't Follow Me I'm The Leader". These style of books are so helpful... Good Luck & Happy Reading!
alexmorris444 More than 1 year ago
Introduction Sun Tzu's strategy to war was more unique than any dynasty emperors. It consisted of spies, And even stealth attacks. Description and summary of main points The way sun Tzu's army was composed .It had very many consistent With nobody's army was. His army was very intelligent. Evaluation His army was very unique. with any he was a strategic genius. And is general was a master swordsman. Conclusion This book is very likeable if you can tolerate mythology And his commander Yao Shin was a smart man as well. Your final review This book was very good's liked a lot
Guest More than 1 year ago
There's no better book that this when it comes to military and warfare. Pity the book is NOT standard reading for OCS, West Point or The Citadel. Yet most of my officer buddies all have a copy. It helps clear matters up and gives a perspective and deeper understanding about warfare and even modern business practices. This book will certainly enlighten you in more ways that you can imagine,
Jacob Triessl 4 months ago
The Art of War is unlike any other book that I have ever read. The book provides a view that is not commonly shared throughout the world today. The fact that this book remains relevant today is a testament to just how insightful this book is. There is no other book that can shed light on the subject of war as well as Sun Tzu did.
ebooker_ben on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's worth reading just to say you have and because so many other books and films refer to it. I first read it in hopes of using it in corporate life but that's not always easy:Camp in high places, facing the sun. Do not climb heights in order to fight. So much for mountain warfare.
markdeo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I give it a 5 because it's a classic that you can read in under an hour. One of the best books I have read. Simple, basic, and a great strategy foundation. I refer to it all the time. Great book from a historical standpoint, but certainly is a great asset in business.
jasonpettus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally here.)The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write essays on whether or not they deserve the label. The Art of War is essay #27 of this series.The story in a nutshell:More of a technical manual than a piece of general literature, The Art of War is a field guide of sorts by famed Chinese military leader Sun Tzu, written it's believed sometime in the 6th century BC (during the period when China was coming together as a unified empire for the first time in history), as a way of instructing other commanders how to have as much success on the battlefield as he had had. (And please know that there's a debate among scholars as well regarding whether Sun Tzu even wrote this book by himself, or if like many other classics from antiquity this isn't in fact a sly compilation, gathering up the best thoughts back then from amongst a whole group of military strategists.) Now of course let's not forget that Sun Tzu was a Taoist as well, so of course his particular advice is going to be Taoist in nature, a very important thing to understand in order to really "get" this book; he sees the best war, for example, as the one that's never actually fought, because you've already dismantled the enemy's forces through sabotage and cunning to the point where they can't put up a resistance in the first place. And so it is throughout this extremely slim book (which in fact is more like a long magazine article) -- chapter after chapter of surprisingly spiritual text concerning the fine art of getting what you want, even when other people are actively trying to stop you from doing so.The argument for it being a classic:It's a 2,500-year-old book still being read and studied on a daily basis, argue its fans; what more do you want? And in the meanwhile, it's influenced nearly every Western military leader since first being translated into a Romantic language (French) in 1782, racking up a whole list of self-declared admirers from Napoleon to Norman Schwarzkopf. And if this weren't enough, starting in the 1980s it also gained a whole new life as a surprisingly apt if not Machiavellian guide to the corporate business world, best typified by symbol-of-yuppie-greed Gordon Gekko from Oliver Stone's fantastic movie Wall Street, who is constantly walking around quoting from it as a way to justify his monstrous, inhuman actions. If all of this isn't enough to safely consider a book a classic, ask its fans, what is?The argument against:The case against this being a classic seems to be one used a lot with books over a thousand years old; that even if that book turns out to be historically important (and it usually does), it might be better at this point to actually study the book and how it affected society, not read the book itself for pleasure anymore. Always remember, that's part of how I'm defining "classic" here in this CCLaP 100 series, is not just how important that title has been to human history, but also whether it's worth literally sitting down and reading it page-for-page yourself, no matter if you have any specific interest in that book's subject or not. If it's yes on the former but no on the latter, as critics of this book claim, then by my definition it's not a classic, but rather simply a historically important book that should be studied by the general public but not necessarily read.My verdict:So let me start by admitting how surprisingly readable this is for being 2,500 years old, and that it really does translate metaphorically to the business world surprisingly elegantly; after all, since it's a guide to war written by a Taoist, it's more of a symbolic examination of how to get out of life what you want the most, even in the face of tough opposition, with
savageknight on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To be honest, I was looking for a straightforward printing of the notes, not a re-hashing and review throughout the ages. This meant a lengthy pass-through of what others thought and believed,etc, etc. When I was finally able to decipher which was part of the book and which were the notes (as I was reading it on a digital device) it became obvious that a lot of the ideas of "war" were things already known to me. Whether it's due to our upbringing in the 20th century and exposure to the various media violences (movies, books, videos, etc) or not could be debated.