A web version of these teachings, can be found at http://va5-6.iso.port.ac.uk/Text/art.of.war.html

The major topics Sun Tzu covers are:
  1. Laying Plans,
  2. Waging War,
  3. Attack by Stratagem,
  4. Tactical Dispositions,
  5. Energy,
  6. Weak points and Strong,
  7. Maneuvering,
  8. Variation in Tactics,
  9. The Army on the March,
  10. Terrain,
  11. The Nine Situations,
  12. The Attack by Fire, and
  13. The Use of Spies

NB: Most need writups!
There are actually 2 books called "The Art of War."

The one you are most likely to encounter at any given Booksazillion is by Sun Tzu. Written in China during the Spring and Autumn era, Sun Tzu explores the possibility of victory without violence and stresses the need to win before the battle has even begun via proper strategy and attitude.

A century or two later, during the much more violent Warring States era, a second "Art of War" was written by Sun Pin, perhaps a descendent of Sun Tzu. Editions of this book have appeared entitled both as "The Art of War" and "Military Methods." Its more about utter, crushing victory, and is not quite as generalizable (Sun Tzu's could apply to an argument as much as a war) and it was lost for centuries until researchers opened a Han dynasty tomb at Yin Chuan Shan and found it, along with several other works, including the oldest known copy of Sun Tsu's Art of War.

Cool books.

Niccolo Machiavelli's Art of War was written in 1520 as a series of letters to Lorenzo di Filippo Strozzi. It is written in the form of a dialogue. Although Machiavelli is often most well-known for his work The Prince, The Art of War originally described the idea that war was a method of politics, a derivative view from that of Xenophon. This view was later popularized by Clausewitz. Machiavelli used the Art of War to advocate Roman strategies as a strategy for Italy to regain its power by increasing its military prowess and political strength, which Machiavelli saw as sorely lacking after getting the opinion that Italy's people were degenerate and corrupt.

There were seven books in Machiavelli's Art of War:

  • Book 1: In which fortune and virtue are described (translators have differed many times on whether these were the words actually meant by Machiavelli). It describes how to build the initial makings of a military structure, and highlights the Romans as a likely subject of study, as well as establishes the conversational style in which Machiavelli and his proponent, Fabrizzio (who may have been fictional), discuss military matters.
  • Book 2: In which initial armament and unit organization are described. These discussions supposedly provided the basis for Italian military unit planning. It again touches on virtue and fortune. Machiavelli takes a moment here to segueway into a discourse about how he thinks the Christian religion is responsible for making men more pacifistic and less warlike.
  • Book 3: Machiavelli discusses example battles and formations, and discusses artillery's value at length.
  • Book 4: A discussion in the style of Sun Tzu on the value of environment. Hannibal and Scipio are also touched on, in the sense of discussing their strategies of movement. The psychological condition of the troops are also discussed.
  • Book 5: This book is all about marching orders, communication, and ambushes.
  • Book 6: Encampments and intelligence are primarily discussed in this book. Special attention is provided towards health and medicine, as well as supply lines and force division of the enemy.
  • Book 7: Fortifications are discussed. Machiavelli strongly advocates the current French practices of fortification at that time in history. He writes a long discourse on the topic, as well as discussing the psychological use of fortifications.

Machiavelli's 27 Rules of Military Discipline are also presented in the appendix. After these are discussed briefly, he returns back to a discussion about reforms of Italian politics, naval discussions, and then some good old countryman hating. He again wishes that some Prince would follow his advice.

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