Timeless Proverbs on the Art of Cunning
The Thirty-Six Strategies is a unique collection of ancient Chinese proverbs that describe some of the most cunning and subtle strategies ever devised.
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Whereas other Chinese military texts such as Sun Zi’s The Art of War focus on military organization, leadership, and battlefield tactics, the Thirty-Six Strategies are more suitably applied in the fields of politics, diplomacy, and espionage. These proverbs describe not only battlefield strategies, but tactics used in psychological warfare to undermine both the enemy’s will to fight – and his sanity. Tactics such as the ‘double cross’, the ‘frame job’, and the ‘bait and switch’, can be traced back through thousands of years of Chinese history to such proverbs as ‘Hide the Dagger Behind a Smile’, ‘Kill With a Borrowed Sword’, and ‘Toss out a Brick to Attract Jade’ respectively. Though other Chinese military works of strategy have at least paid lip service to the Confucian notion of honour, the Thirty-Six Strategies make no pretense of being anything but ruthless.
For the western reader the Thirty-Six Strategies offers timeless insights into the workings of human nature under conditions of extreme stress. Many of the proverbs are based on events that occurred during China’s Warring States Era (403-221 BC). This was a time so infamous, that a later Emperor banned history books of that era on the grounds that they contained accounts of such a devious nature, they would morally corrupt all who read them. Many of those accounts are presented here along with the exploits of some of the orient’s greatest generals, kings, emperors, and shoguns. Over 118 anecdotes are included to both explain and offer examples of each strategy’s application. By learning from the old masters of the art of deception, one is better able to spot the modern pretenders, for, though the players come and go, the game remains the same.
Also available as Audio Book
Absolutely Wonderful Gem!
I have yet to finish this book but I am so impressed with it, one reason is because my 13 year old daughter is now reading it and I have to constantly remove it from her room! Very telling of how history repeats itself and how what you don’t know can be used against you! Fun and very interesting find!
5.0 out of 5 stars By Survivors Unite
Excellent and detailed
Very well written treatise of the 36 strategies. The strategies are usually ruthless, almost always involving deception, using quite inventive ways to trick the opponent. Most notable for the complete lack of ethics and win-at-all costs approach, and often for the subtleness of the strategies. Excellent.
5.0 out of 5 stars By Eo
Reading this book is like reading The Art of War.
I kept thinking, absolutely, the next time I want to convince my enemies — who know that I’m starving — that I actually have plenty of food, I’ll pile up my food baskets high with sand, and a thin layer of wheat. That’ll fool ’em. Then I think, food baskets? sand? wheat? This is one of those classics from ancient China that requires a lot of translation and imagination. The stories of treachery, deception, and bad behavior are fun, but I came away unconvinced that my life was exciting enough to apply this stuff in any meaningful way. This is a book for players, for people with real enemies — maybe CEOs and politicians?
4 of 5 stars, Nick’s review
This a great, easy to digest, and fast read if you want to get up to speed on Chinese history, strategy, and how to apply them to your real life.
The author lays out each chapter in perfect bite sized paragraphs. He starts out with the strategy, then supports it with actual Chinese – and in some cases Japanese – history lessons. In the end, he summarizes the strategy.
Perfect for the bus or train commute, you can read through this in less than a week.
3 of 5 stars Thomas’s review
Mandatory Bookshelf Material for the Strategist
This is the natural next step after reading, comprehending, applying, and mastering “The Art Of War” by Sun Tzu. This book is generally referred to as “The Secret Art Of War”. It expounds on some very unique, tried and tested military strategies, which like “The Art Of War”, have a seemingly endless amount of possibility for application. Do yourself the favor and quit reading the review. Honest to goodness, from one general customer to another, it’s a must-have.
5.0 out of 5 stars By J. Larson