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The Art of Life

By , Princeton, NJ
A general faces an impossible task. He wields a small and weak army. He is outnumbered ten to one. Yet, this thoughtful and intelligent general is able to snatch victory from a hopeless fight. This general is not George Washington, not Dwight D. Eisenhower, not Ulysses S. Grant. The general’s name is Sun Tzu. He lives in 500 B.C. in Ancient China.
Sun Tzu is the name of the person widely considered the most influential military strategist in history. He wrote The Art of War, a book on military strategy used as the core study in most military schools. The Art of War holds the key to success, whether the situation is war, politics, or business. In his book, he focuses on war, and how one should develop and maneuver an army to succeed. Sun Tzu discusses many concepts and strategies in war. However, there are a few that stand out as key principles.
Sun Tzu says, “To win one hundred battles is not the height of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is.” Sun Tzu prizes the general that can out-think, rather than out-fight, the enemy. This concept is clearly shown in the Vietnam War. In the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese general Vo Nguyen Giap understands that his army is significantly inferior to the powerful American army. So, instead of fighting the U.S. Army directly, he engages in guerrilla tactics, devises spy systems, and uses clever tactics such as the famous Ho Chi Minh trail in order to defeat and repel the American Army.
Sun Tzu says, “All war is deception.” Although this may be a very definite and arguable claim, it is quite true. The famed Normandy landings of World War II exhibit the concept of deception very clearly. Before the D-day landings, General Eisenhower knew that he had to keep his invasion force a secret. He created a “phantom army," a collection of inflated tanks and aircraft. He sent hours of fake radio signals and used resources such as spies, double-agents, and codebreaking to convince the Nazis that the invasion would come at Pas de Calais, and not at Normandy. Without this deception, there would have been much more defense at Normandy, and the D-day landings may have been impossible.
Sun Tzu’s words are true words of wisdom. I would recommend picking up this book, The Art of War, and reading through its thirteen chapters. These chapters will teach you the lessons of war and life.





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