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“It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles. if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperilled in every single battle.” — Sun TZU, The Art of War — ca. 600 BCE
Sun Tzu’s Art of War uses language that may be unusual in a Western text on warfare and strategy. For example, the 11th chapter states that a leader must be “serene and inscrutable” and capable of comprehending “unfathomable plans”. They state that the text contains many similar remarks that have long confused Western readers lacking an awareness of the East Asian context. The meaning of such statements are clearer when interpreted in the context of Taoist thought and practice. Sun Tzu viewed the ideal general as an enlightened Taoist master, which has led to The Art of War being considered a prime example of Taoist strategy.
Traditionalists attribute the authorship of The Art of War to the historical figure Sun Wu, who is chronicled in the Records of the Grand Historian and the Spring and Autumn Annals. He was reputedly active in the late 6th century BC, beginning c. 512 BC.
Traditional histories recount that the first emperor of a unified China, Qin Shi Huang, considered the book invaluable in ending the Age of Warring States. The Art of War was introduced in Japan, c. AD 760, and the book quickly became popular among Japanese generals. The work also significantly influenced the unification of Japan. Mastery of its teachings was honored among the samurai, and its teachings were both exhorted and exemplified by influential daimyo and shogun.
Communist Chinese leader Mao Zedong partially credited his victory over Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang in 1949 to The Art of War. The work strongly influenced Mao’s writings about guerrilla warfare, which further influenced communist insurgencies around the world.
General Vo Nguyen Giap, the military mastermind behind victories over French and American forces in Vietnam, was an avid student and practitioner of Sun Tzu’s ideas. (Wikipedia.org)