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A BOOK REVIEW OF SUN TZU THE ART OF WAR Translated by SAMUEL B GRIFFITH 2001-09-14 The Art of War was written by Sun Tzu and translated by Samuel B Griffith The authorship and date of this book has been closely scrutinized since the eleventh century in prolonged and protracted debates among scholars It is accepted that the work originated in China and was well known in the fourth century BC While the very existence of Sun Tzu has been questioned the chapter on The Biography of Sun Tzu indicates that Sun Tzu was an author who later made a general when his successful writings gained him an audience with a king The authors style is clearly informative very much like an instructional book He opens chapter one Estimates of his work by declaring War is a matter of vital importance to the State the province of life or death the road to survival or ruin It is mandatory that it be thoroughly studied The Art of War is devoted to the discussion of strategies which the author claims leads to victory if carefully followed His is the first known attempt to formulate a rational basis for the planning and conduct of military operations Sun Tzu was not primarily interested in the elaboration of specific maneuvers or in superficial or transitory techniques This is both a weakness and strength of the book It provides sound advice and discussion yet stops short on providing excessive details on specific maneuvers It is this very omission that makes the book timeless His purpose was to develop a systematic guide for rulers and generals on an intelligent approach to warfare He believed that the skillful strategist should be able to subdue the enemys army without engaging it to take his cities without laying siege to them
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