Sabaton Saturday: Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art Of War’.


On Sabaton’s album ‘The Art Of War’ the binding theme is the Chinese strategist Sun Tzu. So now on this weeks Sabaton Saturday we discuss the various short tracks about the war strategies of Sun Tzu.

The art of warMost people will know Sun Tzu, or “Master Sun”, from his work on the military strategy book ‘The Art Of War’. But Sun Tzu was more than a military general, he was also a strategist and a philosopher. He lived in the ‘Spring And Autumn Period’ of ancient China. This is somewhere around 771 to 476 BC.

The Art Of War contains a philosophy of war for managing conflicts and winning battles. Accepted as a masterpiece and frequently cited and referred to by generals since it was published, the book has been a guideline and inspiration for warfare in the twentieth century.

“The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin.” Sun Tzu, ‘The Art Of War.


A statue of Sun Tzu

In this twentieth century, Mao Zedong, the Chinese Communist leader, claimed his victory over the Kuomintang was only possible because of ‘The Art Of War. Also, Ho Chi Minh translated the book to Vietnamese so his generals could study it. Minh was a student and practitioner of Sun Tzu’s ideas that lead to victories over the French and American forces during the Vietnam War.

A bamboo binding of 'The Art Of War'

A bamboo binding of ‘The Art Of War’

Scholars have been in doubt about the history of Sun Tzu and the traditional dating of the strategic book. The appearance of features from ‘The Art Of War’ in other historical texts is considered to be proof to his history and authorship. In the end, most scholars claim that it is very likely that Sun Tzu did exist and not only served as a general, but also wrote the core of the book.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.
If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Sun Tzu, ‘The Art Of War’.

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