Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sun Tzu and The Art of War

One of the books I recently picked up is The Art of War, translated by Thomas Cleary. I figure this will be an interesting read for me since I'm a devout pacifist!!

Purportedly written by the legendary warrior Sun Tzu (Sun Wu), tradition has the book penned in the 6th century BC, while recent scholars contend it was more likely written two centuries later during the Warring States period, the same period it is believed that the Tao Te Ching first began to take shape.

Cleary contends that The Art of War should be considered a Taoist-styled text. Many other commentators, however, believe it predates the formations of Taoist thought and is influenced by several other schools as well. Not being an ancient Chinese historian myself, I don't know where I will stand on the issue. Before I even would entertain the thought of making such a personal decision, I think it would behoove me to read the book first!!

In fact, I'm going to invite you to read along with me. Over the next few months, I will share each verse of each chapter in this space without commentary. We will probably average four verses per day. At some later point -- probably around the time the Line by Line and/or Tao Bible series begin to wind down -- I will give The Art of War the usual TRT treatment by going through it verse by verse with analysis and commentary.

One final note. While I will be reading the Cleary version, the version presented on this blog will be the Lionel Giles version. Why the difference? I can copy and paste the former which is far easier than needing to type out the Cleary version.


  1. I enjoy studying this while watching Chinese or Korean historical drama. (Red Cliff is a good start.)

  2. As a fellow pacifist I look forward to this series. I've never read it before.

  3. Whenever I go to second hand book stores the taoism/eastern philosophy/whatevertheycallit section is very often full of various translations of this book - but I've never picked one up.

    The bent towards war is offputting as is the fact that so many people sell their copies back to second hand bookstores.

    Maybe it is a great book though! so I look forward to exploring it now wit you.

    I also just clicked the link to the on-line version so will give it a good read now.

  4. Rambling,

    I look forward to your comentary regarding this book. I have read it several times and I must say it is a wonderful book. The teachings although focused on the art of war the teachings can be used in multiple areas of life


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