A Chinese bamboo book, open to display the binding and contents. This copy of The Art of War (on the cover, "孫子兵法") by Sun Tzu is part of a collection at the University of California, Riverside. The cover also reads "乾隆御書", meaning it was either commissioned or transcribed by the Qianlong Emperor. This photograph is licensed under Creative Commons by the Vlasta 2. It was found on Wikimedia.
Daily Thoughts 12/10/2009
Last night, I finished reading The 36 Secret Strategies of the Martial Arts The Classic Chinese Guide for Success in War, Business, and Life interpreted by Hiroshi Moriya and translated by William Scott Wilson. This book is similar to the Art of War by Sun Tzu. It is a treatise on strategy for espionage, battles, deception, diplomacy and maneuver in warfare. The book itself is much more Machiavellian in its intention. There are suggestions on how to use a beautiful woman as well as a young fool.
Each of the 36 secrets is a saying about how to handle warfare. The book itself is broken into six parts. The statements are very short, several words long. An example of one of them is "Bar the door, Grab the Thief." Another one which is easy to see the references to in modern China is "Make The Flowers Bloom on the Tree." Each saying is interpreted in the terms of war during the warring states period of China or in the context of the classic Chinese novel, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms which is full of battles and intrigue.
In addition to a bit on ancient tactics, there are examples from more modern times, Mao's guerrilla warfare, the Imperial Japanese army, the allied landing at Normandy, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Hitler's blitzkrieg, and many other events in modern history.
This book is first and foremost about strategy. There are some examples on how to be patient and outlast people, use envy, and other forms of psychological manipulation to reach your ends. Some of these examples seem like they could be useful in modern business. We keep this book in our management section. I found out about this book from a business blog.
It is not an easy book to read. The writing is very philosophical and makes many references to Chinese History, the I Ching, and various forms of Chinese philosophy. There are notes on the back on each chapter, but no index. The book is printed by Kodansha International which is a very prominent Japanese press.
I am also reading A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine. Its main focus seems to be the Roman Stoics, more specifically aspects of tranquility. There is a bit on one of my favorite philosophy books the Enchiridion by Epictetus.
I've been looking at mysteries. They have a nice mystery list in the Sunday Book Review of the New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/books/review/Crime-t.html?_r=1&ref=books . I also have looked at the Edgar Award, Golden Dagger Award, and the Agatha Award for mysteries this year.
Kirkus Reviews and Editor and Publisher closed today.