The Art of War is a Chinese military treatise that was written by Sun Tzu in the 6th century BC, during the Spring and Autumn period. Composed of 13 chapters, each of which is devoted to one aspect of warfare, it is said to be the definitive work on military strategies and tactics of its time, and still one of the basic texts.
The Art of War is one of the oldest and most successful books on military strategy. It has had an influence on Eastern military thinking, business tactics, and beyond. Sun Tzu suggested the importance of positioning in strategy and that position is affected both by objective conditions in the physical environment and the subjective opinions of competitive actors in that environment. He thought that strategy was not planning in the sense of working through an established list, but rather that it requires quick and appropriate responses to changing conditions. Planning works in a controlled environment, but in a changing environment, competing plans collide, creating unexpected situations.
- Laying Plans/The Calculations explores the five fundamental factors (the Way, seasons, terrain, leadership, and management) and seven elements that define a successful outcome. By thinking, assessing and comparing these points you can calculate a victory, deviation from them will ensure failure. Remember that war is a very grave matter of state.
- Waging War/The Challenge explains how to understand the economy of war and how success requires making the winning play, which in turn, requires limiting the cost of competition and conflict.
- Attack by Stratagem/The Plan of Attack defines the source of strength as unity, not size, and the five ingredients that you need to succeed in any war. In order of importance: Attack, Strategy, Alliances, Army, lastly Cities.
- Tactical Dispositions/Positioning explains the importance of defending existing positions until you can advance them and how you must recognize opportunities, not try to create them.
- Energy/Directing explains the use of creativity and timing in building your momentum.
- Weak Points & Strong/Illusion and Reality explains how your opportunities come from the openings in the environment caused by the relative weakness of your enemy in a given area.
- Maneuvering/Engaging The Force explains the dangers of direct conflict and how to win those confrontations when they are forced upon you.
- Variation in Tactics/The Nine Variations focuses on the need for flexibility in your responses. It explains how to respond to shifting circumstances successfully.
- The Army on the March/Moving The Force describes the different situations in them.
- The Attack by Fire/Fiery Attack explains the use of weapons generally and the use of the environment as a weapon specifically. It examines the five targets for attack, the five types of environmental attack, and the appropriate responses to such attack.
- The Use of Spies/The Use of Intelligence focuses on the importance of developing good information sources, specifically the five types of sources and how to manage them.
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