The Art of War: The Essential Translation of the Classic Book of Life (Penguin Classics)
by Sun-tzu
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Recommendations on The Art of War: The Essential Translation of the Classic Book of Life (Penguin Classics)

Recommendations from domain experts (curated by Highlyreco)

Steve Blank's Review:

The metaphor that business is war is both a cliché and points to a deeper truth.  Many basic business concepts; competition, leadership, strategy versus tactics, logistics, etc. have their roots in military affairs. The difference is that in business no one dies.  At some time in your business life you need to study war or become a casualty.  Sun Tzu covered all the basics of strategy in The Art of War until the advent of technology temporarily superseded him. Also, in the same vein try The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi.  These two books have unfortunately turned into business clichés but they are still timeless reading.


Ryan Holiday 's Review:

I know this will offend many strategy purists, but for most audiences I recommend these two books only with a pretty strong disclaimer.

While both are clearly full of strategic wisdom, they are hard to separate from their respective eras and brands of warfare. As budding strategists in business and in life, most of us are really looking for advice that can help us with our own problems. The reality is that Napoleonic warfare does not exactly have its equivalents in today’s society.

On the other hand, Sun-Tzu is so aphoristic that it’s hard to say what is concrete advice and what is just common sense. But the books are so convincing that you might still end up leaving thinking that they can be easily applied. So, again, check these books out if you’re really interested, but I think some of the other books are much better places to start.