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Sun Tzu
Art of War
 I. LAYING PLANS                   
 1. Sun Tzu said:  The art of war 
is of vital importance to the State.
 2. It is a matter of life and death, 
a road either to safety or to ruin.  
Hence it is a subject of inquiry
 which can on no account be 
 3. The art of war, then, is 
governed by five constant factors, 
to be taken into account in one's 
deliberations, when seeking to 
determine the conditions obtaining
 in the field.
 4. These are:  (1) The Moral Law; 
(2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The 
Commander; (5) Method and 
5,6. The Moral Law causes the 
people to be in complete accord 
with their ruler, so that they will 
follow him regardless of their lives, 
undismayed by any danger.
 7. Heaven signifies night and day, 
cold and heat, times and seasons.
 8. Earth comprises distances, 
great and small; danger and security; 
open ground and narrow passes;
the chances of life and death.
 9. The Commander stands for the 
virtues of wisdom, sincerely, 
benevolence, courage and 
10. By method and discipline are 
to be understood the marshaling of 
the army in its proper subdivisions,
the graduations of rank among the 
officers, the maintenance of roads 
by which supplies may reach the 
army, and the control of military 
11. These five heads should be 
familiar to every general: he who 
knows them will be victorious; he 
who knows them not will fail.
12. Therefore, in your deliberations, 
when seeking to determine the 
military conditions, let them be 
made the basis of a comparison, 
in this wise:--
13. (1) Which of the two sovereigns
       is imbued  with the Moral law?
    (2) Which of the two generals 
         has most ability?
    (3) With whom lie the advantages 
         derived from Heaven
         and Earth?
    (4) On which side is discipline 
         most rigorously enforced?
    (5) Which army is stronger?
    (6) On which side are officers and 
         men more highly trained?
    (7) In which army is there the 
         greater constancy
        both in reward and punishment?
14. By means of these seven 
considerations I can forecast victory
 or defeat.
15. The general that hearkens to my
 counsel and acts upon it, will conquer:
let such a one be retained in command! 
The general that hearkens not to my 
counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer 
defeat:--let such a one be dismissed!
16. While heading the profit of my 
counsel, avail yourself also of any 
helpful circumstances over and 
beyond the ordinary rules.
17. According as circumstances 
are favorable, one should modify 
one's plans.
18. All warfare is based on deception.
19. Hence, when able to attack, 
we must seem unable; when using 
our forces, we must seem inactive; 
when we are near, we must make the 
enemy believe we are far away;
 when far away, we must make him 
believe we are near.
20. Hold out baits to entice the 
enemy.  Feign disorder, and crush
21. If he is secure at all points, be 
prepared for him. If he is in superior 
strength, evade him.
22. If your opponent is of choleric
 temper, seek to irritate him.  
Pretend to be weak, that he may 
grow arrogant.
23. If he is taking his ease, give 
him no rest. If his forces are united,
 separate them.
24. Attack him where he is 
unprepared, appear where you are 
not expected.
25. These military devices, leading 
to victory, must not be divulged 
26. Now the general who wins a 
battle makes many calculations in 
his temple ere the battle is fought. 
The general who loses a battle 
makes but few calculations 
beforehand.  Thus do many 
calculations lead to victory, and 
few calculations to defeat: how 
much more no calculation at all!  
It is by attention to this point that I 
can foresee who is likely to win or lose.
Click here to read Chapters 2 through 
13 of Sun Tzu on the Art of War.
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Understanding Sun Tzu on the Art of War

A book by Robert L. Cantrell

The intelligent mind will find all measure of ways to overcome even the most difficult challenges, up to and including winning a war with another human being.




Understanding Sun Tzu on the Art of War is both an interpretation and a source of Sun Tzuís Art of War that clarifies Sun Tzuís philosophies on war without compromising the subtlety of thought needed to master them.    It contains a complete translation of Sun Tzu's Art of War plus an extensive interpretation of Sun Tzu's Art of War designed to make Sun Tzu's ideas useful.


Understanding Sun Tzu on the Art of War is in use by the National Defense University and the U.S. Naval War College as a text for senior military officers.  It has proven exceptionally popular with the military in the Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia area, in the civilian high tech centers of Silicon Valley, and in San Diego.


Heartland Reviews

As a retired military intelligence professional and conflict theorist, I must say this is the best interpretation of Sun Tzuís classic work I have read. The author focuses on the meanings behind this ancient Chinese war philosopherís writings. He puts them into a modern context, making them easy to understand. Apparently the Department of Defense agrees with me on this, since they have selected Mr. Cantrellís book as a text for the National War College in Washington DC. This is a must read for all military officers and business leaders. It rated a perfect five hearts.

Bob Spear


Publisher and Chief Reviewer for Heartland Reviews, Leavenworth, KS


Midwest Book Reviews (Reviewer's Choice Selection)

Robert L. Cantrell's Understanding Sun Tzu On The Art Of War contains both the complete translated text of Sun Tzu's enduring classic on battle strategy, and a modern-day interpretation packed with advice on leadership, learning to keep one's intentions a secret from one's opponents, leveraging advantages as the key to victory, and a great deal more. An excellent resource for anyone seeking self-improvement through internalizing Sun Tzu's wisdom, Understanding Sun Tzu on the Art of War is thoughtful and thought-provoking reading of the highest order.


, the largest online resource for The Art of War

Your book was extremely thorough in its explanation and presentation and is the standard on which all other analyses of Sun Tzu should be based. 


Special Features for Readers


Familiar Case Examples


Understanding Sun Tzu On The Art Of War uses familiar battles in mostly American and British history to illustrate Sun Tzu's principles.  This means you will have the opportunity to examine Sun Tzu's ideas in context with a history you know.  



(Pictures from case examples used in the book.)


Instructors and readers can link to the Storyboards page on this Web site for images that follow the track of the book.


Best Translation


Understanding Sun Tzu on the Art of War contains an updated copy of arguably the best, and certainly the best selling translation of Sun Tzu on the market today written by Lionel Giles in 1910.  Lionel Giles lived in China for many years while in the service of Great Britain.  His English translation of Sun Tzu remains the standard by which all other translations are measured. 


(Author's copy of an original 1910 Lionel Giles translation)

Best Interpretive Method


Understanding Sun Tzu on the Art of War was written to be the most comprehensive interpretation of Sun Tzuís work available on the market.  To achieve this goal, it interprets Sun Tzu's Art of War in context with Sun Tzuís own source material, and presents six principles that Sun Tzu's Art of War in turn puts into context.  Professional instructors understand this upper-lower tiered method of interpretation to be the very best way to explain complex ideas.  To understand why it is important, consider, as an example, how difficult it would be to explain to someone the concept of words without being able to put them in context with sentences above words and letters below them. 


Attractive Copy


Understanding Sun Tzu on the Art of War was printed by Phoenix Color in Maryland and looks attractive on a desk or table.  The spear shown on the cover was hand forged by a former Navy Seal.    


Purchase Understanding Sun Tzu on the Art of War


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Robert Cantrell, the author, is a professional strategist and a client author of Atchity Editorial/Entertainment International

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