Lessons from “The Art of War”

At the end of August, I thought I was going to be going on a road trip from DC to Newfoundland. In preparation for said road trip, I borrowed 9 books from the library. I’ll be talking about one of those books () when I write about The Stockdale Paradox, (which I teased in a post ).

One of the other books that I borrowed: “.”

It’s a book that has been around for ages and from what I understand, is often revered as scripture for some in the business world. As a result, I thought it would be good to read through it. Of course, to really savor its contents, it’ll be necessary to read it more than once.

I’m about two-thirds through it and I made a note of some interesting quotes that I thought would be worth sharing.

From page 73 of Samuel Griffith’s translation (in 1963):

“Thus, while we have heard of blundering swiftness in war, we have not yet seen a clever operation that was prolonged.”

“For there has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited.”

From page 74:

“Where the army is, prices are high; when prices rise the wealth of the people is exhausted. When wealth is exhausted the peasantry will be afflicted with urgent exactions.”

“With strength thus depleted and wealth consumed the households in the central plains will be utterly impoverished and seven-tenths of their wealth dissipated.”

“As to government expenditures, those due to broken-down chariots, worn-out horses, armour and helmets, arrows and crossbows, lances, hand and body shields, draft animals and supply wagons will amount to sixty per cent. of the total.”

I could most certainly attempt to draw comparisons between the US and quotes from page 74, but I don’t think that level of detail is necessary for the point I’m trying to make. I will say this, though: it is most certainly “” to consider the shape of war in 2012 in the context of these 5 quotes, which come from writings that are over 2000 years old.

Published by Jeremiah Stanghini

Jeremiah's primary aim is to provide readers with a new perspective. In the same vein as the "Blind Men and the Elephant," it can be difficult to know when one is looking at the big picture or if one is simply looking at a 'tusk' or a 'leg.' He writes on a variety of topics: psychology, business, science, entertainment, politics, history, etc.

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