Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu was a Chinese general popularly known for the book The Art of War. This is one of the most influential military writings that are designed to guide military strategist. At the time of its writing in the 6th century, Sun Tzu had the Chinese Army in mind. However, it has grown to influence military strategy all over the world as well as business leaders. Reading the book paints the picture of Sun as someone who was mainly interested in alternatives to battle like use of a secret agent, delay, stratagem, as well as alternatives to war such as keeping alliances, willingness to submit, and the use of deceit. East Asian and Chinese culture revere him as a legendary figure who ought to be respected.

Life history

Historians hold that Sun may have been born around the 6th century. His name at birth was Sun Wu. In the course of his life he adopted the name Sun Tzu for which he is popularly known. It is quite horrific considering it is a Chinese translation for Master Sun.

Sun’s historicity is a bit of a mystery. The Han dynasty historian Sima Qian holds that he might have been minister to King Helü of Wu. Author of The Art of War has been praised by respectable scholars for his composition. Besides just impacting the Asian world, this book has been practically implemented in West.

It is a known fact that Sun Tzu did exist. The only area of debate is the timeframe of his existence as well as his historicity. Records of the Grand Historian indicate that Tzu was a Wu native. This contradicts The Spring and Autumn Annals which shows he was born in Qi. However, there is some kind of uniformity between the two sources which show he was born in the late Spring and Autumn period.

The Art of War

One thing that made Sun get into the radar of historians was what he did with The Art of War. It ranked as the most popular military treatises during the period of non-stop wars amongst Chinese states. This time is dabbed Warring States Period.

This book served its role well in guiding ancient China conduct strategic wars. Sun came up with various approaches to warfare including the fact that it is based on deception and the need to attack the enemy from a higher ground. War is a matter of life and death, notes Tzu, therefore, the warring factions must do all it takes to win.

While evaluating the book, McNeilly notes in Sun Tzu and the Art of Modern Warfare that the interpretation of this book showcases China’s eager to become a world superpower. Still this can be seen in modern world where China is on a rapid rise to take over the world’s economies.


We cannot dispute the fact that Sun Tzu has one of the most admired and unbreakable legacies. Thanks to his strategic brilliance, he wrote a military treatises that inspires the military world as well as business leaders. His work will continue to live on now that it is translated to multiple languages.


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