A MILITARY STRATEGIST, PHILOSOPHER & GENERAL OF NEAR-MYTHICAL PROPORTIONS
CHINA, SIXTH-FIFTH CENTURIES BCE
01 He wrote the manual for war
Sun Tzu is generally credited as the author of The Art Of War, an ancient Chinese military strategy guide that effectively served as the rulebook for warfare. The likes of Mao Zedong, Napoleon Bonaparte, Douglas MacArthur and George Patton have all studied it.
02 He defeated enemies with his mind
Many of Sun Tzu’s theories towards war were centred around psychologically defeating the opponent rather than doing so through brute force. He emphasised the importance of deception and convincing the enemy they were strong when they were weak, and vice versa.
03 HIS METHODS WERE BRUTAL
One popular anecdote about Sun Tzu is the time a king challenged him to train an army of his concubines in military drills. When they failed to take him seriously, he had the king’s two favourite concubines, who were at the front, both executed. Not surprisingly, they proved to be more receptive to his commands after that.
04 He may never have existed
Even though he is credited as a military mastermind, there is no concrete proof he existed. His name is only mentioned in passing during his supposedly biggest achievements, like the Battle of Boju — the argument being that for such a supposedly major figure, little factual information has been recorded.
05 His methods remain effective today
As well as being required reading for many a budding army general, The Art Of War is also considered an essential read among politicians, diplomats and those involved in international relations. Moreover, business gurus often teach from Sun Tzu’s tome, using war as a metaphor for the global market.