The Art of War Summary
This is a book by Sun Tzu, who is a philosopher. He meets with Wu’ ruler, and the purpose of the meeting is the content of the book.
A Short Overview of the Plot
Tzu is asked to train a legion comprising of women by Wu’s ruler and to put Wu’s two concubines in charge. The women are taught their roles, but when the drums sound, the women do not follow orders but laugh instead. Su Tzu reveals that if commands are not well understood, the commander is at fault.
The drums sound again, and the women laugh again. This time he says that if the commands have been understood but not followed, the team commander is at fault. Therefore, commanders should have to be beheaded.
The ruler does not like this since the commanders were his concubines. However, they should be beheaded. New commanders are chosen, and henceforth the women follow instructions. Hence the task Tzu was asked to undertake is completed.
The book has 13 chapters within 41 pages. Tzu reveals some of the key elements that should be considered during the war: the road, the ground, the sky, the rule, and the command. The calculations of these elements can predict the win or loss of a war.
Tzu insists that war requires keen comprehension. Everyone must want the war, the king, people, and soldiers, and not the king alone. According to him, it is about the one who attacks not the one defending, about the one who causes a divide and not the divided. A long lasting too long tires people and forces poverty, and this is bad for the king.
He reveals that a king has to trust his chosen commander and not meddle. The commander may deviate from rules during war.
Tzu uses the example of music saying that great music can be created even though there are only five notes; do sol re la mi. Also, tastes are not more than five, but when combined, they can create and unexperienced sensation. These examples intended to emphasize that commanders can use similar tactics but in different forms.