Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is the earliest recorded book of military strategy and tactics the world. It has been translated in countless languages and remains on the must-read lists of every military academy.
But the book’s archaic language can be hard to penetrate. For the modern reader with little interest in classical Chinese, the book’s new edition by Hua Shan, published on April 5, might be the easiest to understand yet.
The Art of War consists of 13 chapters that teach readers how to compare the advantage and disadvantage of the enemy in order to make the plan, how win with skill rather than raw force, how to take advantage of natural conditions and how to analyze enemy actions.
Born in 1971, Hua Shan has a keen interest in Chinese history and religion, as well as Western philosophical traditions.
Hua spent more than 20 years studying The Art of War and using the annotations of famous Chinese military figures such as Cao Cao and Du Mu. His text combines their ideas with his own thinking.
The book explores many classic wars in Chinese history and uses them as case studies to enrich Sun Tzu’s message.
The cases of Chinese historical wars are interesting to read, but the most creative element may be on the back cover. Hua writes that in spite of a common misconception The Art of War is not about “winning with strange and new strategies,” it is actually about “winning with a highly prepared military force.” The characters used have multiple pronunciations.
Hua also uses popular Internet lingo to make the book easily understood by younger readers. For those who complain that the classical text is to dry and boring, Hua’s take might be a fun alternative.