GMIH-018 Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu


People have been fighting wars since the beginning of time. But, there is one person who wrote the most famous book about the art of war. Military leaders, business leaders, and many other people have studied the book called The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

Now, not only is this ancient book one of the most important books on warfare but of course you know that this is a podcast called Great Mustaches in History; so you will not be surprised that Sun Tzu has a great mustache.

Early Life

I usually start by telling you all about the early life of the subject of the podcast we do not know much about Sun Tzu’s early life. We do know that he was born Sun Wu and was the son of an aristocrat in Ancient China. He was interested in warfare and was a mercenary soldier. Sun Tzu became known as a great leader of soldiers.

The King’s Test

People noticed that Sun Tzu was a great leader. The King of Wu heard about Sun Tzu so he brought him to to the royal palace so he could test him.  The king told Sun Tzu he had to train 180 of his concubines as soldiers.

Sun Tzu put the concubines in two groups and made a woman the leader of each group. He gave them a command but the women did not obey. They just giggled at him. Sun Tzu showed them that he meant business when he had the two leaders executed. Everyone was shocked. Sun Tzu then assigned two more leaders. This time when he gave the command everyone did exactly what he said.

Military Leader

Sun Tzu learned a lot about war and even began to have his own ideas about strategy. King Wu had made Sun Tzu a general. Sun Tzu tested his ideas and found that they worked. The King of Wu fought the King of Chu (both Wu and Chu were regions in ancient China). Now, the state of Chu was much more powerful than the area Wu where Sun Tzu was. But, even though they were fighting a powerful enemy, Sun Tzu’s ideas worked and they won lots of battles. Sun Tzu even led the army to capture the capital city of Ying.

The Art of War

Sun Tzu thought so much about how to win wars that he wrote a book called the Art of War. It is one of the most famous books about war ever written. Each chapter in the book talks about different parts of war.

A bamboo version of The Art of War

A bamboo version of The Art of War

Here are the thirteen chapters:

  1. Laying Plans
  2. Waging War
  3. The Plan of Attack
  4. Positioning
  5. Directing
  6. Weak Points and Strong
  7. Maneuvering
  8. The Nine Variations
  9. The Army on the March
  10. Terrain
  11. The Nine Terrains
  12. Attack by Fire
  13. The Use of Spies

Sun Tzu  thought it was better not to have a war at all but if you had to have a war the best thing to do is to win as quickly as possible. He knew that war hurt everyone even the nations that won the war so he thought it best to avoid war but if you had to fight it should be as quick as possible.

Famous Sayings from the Art of War

Sun Tzu has many famous sayings. Here are a few:

  • To know your enemy, you must become your enemy.
  • A leader leads by example, not by force.
  • The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
  • Attack the enemy where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
  • He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
  • All warfare is based on deception.
  • A clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.
  • What is of the greatest importance in war is extraordinary speed; one cannot afford to neglect opportunity.

Influence of Sun Tzu

Art_of_WarAs I said, the Art of War is one of the most famous books about war. It has been studied by military leaders in virtually every nation in the world and has been studied every since it was written.

People still study Sun Tzu’s book the Art of War. It is used in military schools. The CIA makes every agent read it. It is used by people in the U.S. Military Intelligence.

But the Art of War is not just a military book. It is read and the ideas used by people in many areas. The strategy in the book is used by people in business, management, sports, and politics.

Interesting Facts about Sun Tzu

  • The Art of War is the basis for many Asian martial arts philosophies.
  • Sun Tzu says that the five virtues of a general are wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, strictness, and courage.
  • The Art of War was first translated into English in 1905. It was translated into French in 1782.
  • It is easy to find the Art of War and download it for free. It is public domain.

Great Mustaches in History

Sun Tzu is not only one of the most famous military strategist, he also has a great mustache. That is what makes him a great mustache in history.

The Art of War Book

Here is a FREE copy of the book in PDF format. Download and enjoy.


Download a free copy of The Art of War by Sun Tzu

Download a free copy of The Art of War by Sun Tzu


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