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Sun Tzu: The Principles of War

by Barton Whaley
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Sun Tzu: The Principles of War by Barton Whaley
A new translation of Sun Tzu's Classic book on war, designed specifically for soldiers intelligence specialists, deception analysts, and magicians!
  • Know your opponent and know yourself and savor a hundred victories in a hundred battles.
  • Know your opponent but don't know yourself and win only half your battles.
  • Know neither your opponent nor yourself and risk great peril.
—3/31-33
Most translators and commentators of the previous 37 complete translations in English of Sun Tzu have interpreted this famous passage about knowing yourself and knowing your enemy and always winning as meaning merely that those who know this principle will win. This ignores the possibility that the opponent might also know at least something of this as well as Sun Tzu's Indirect/Direct Principle. From that wider perspective victory will go to the first to master these two principles, the one who keeps one step ahead in mastery. This is, in part, why Bart Whaley has presented this 38th translation.

Sun Tzu's principles of war transcend both time and cultures. There are two timeless factors – its level of analysis and its psychological focus.

First, and most obvious, is Sun Tzu's highly abstract level of analysis. It tends to stand outside time. Except for occasional passing references to such now antique equipment as chariots and crossbows a first-time reader would have few clues that the text itself was antique. Master Sun wants his readers to think about his basic theory of combat, not about the clutter of gadgetry involved in combat. This focus on conflict theory explains his book's current vogue as a how-to-win books among soldiers, martial artists, business executives, sports & games players, and everyone else.

Second, and more importantly, is his extraordinary focus on psychological factors in war. No other book on war puts perceptual and cognitive factors front and center. For him they clearly outweigh the economic, logistical and sheer fire-power problems that loom large in all other accounts. Indeed, all of Sun Tzu's frequent discussions of grand strategy and tactics are set in terms of the mutual perceptions and misperception around which the competition between friend and foe circulate.

This new translation is the only one that resets Sun Tzu's text at the leading edge of today's controversies over the asymmetric strategies and tactics needed for success. It is crucial for victory of the weak over the strong. And it is the most cost-effective approach ever for the stronger contestant.

1st edition 2013, 190 pages.
word count: 65190 which is equivalent to 260 standard pages of text


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