We have all probably met this person who holds one of the millions of copies of The Art of War published and thinks that reading the book or quoting from it makes him better than his colleagues. If not, you have probably seen this scenario in movies or television shows. However, despite the negative opinion attached to the proponents of the book, it is a generally accepted work of military strategy attributed to the Chinese General Sun Tzu.
Although there are still debates in various circles about the validity of his authorship of the book, his reputation is undisputed. He is one of China’s legendary figures in both his social and military history.
For fans of The Art of War and the curious, here is everything you need to know about Sun Tzu, the Chinese general.
Sun Tzu – Biography
When it comes to his birthplace, there is a debate about his exact birthplace, with some believing that the legendary general was born in Qi, while others believe that he was born in Wu, in the kingdom of Zhou. He was born in 544 BC in late spring and autumn.
There is little information about his background, as some historians still doubt his existence and consider him more of a fictional character created for a literary purpose. However, there is historical evidence, such as reports about Sima Qian, which prove the existence of the famous general.
It is believed that he served King Helu of Wu as a general and strategist in 512 BC. The subsequent victories and the way he won allegedly led to the founding of The Art of War, where he documented his military and philosophical ideas.
More interesting facts about Sun Tzu, the Chinese general, and military strategist
He once killed two of King Helus’ concubines.
Sun Tzu was often more a symbol of ingenuity and brilliant strategic thinking than an actual person, but one of the few existing stories that humanize him is the story of how he trained King Helu’s concubines.
After receiving orders from the king to train his 360 concubines and turn them into soldiers, a task considered ridiculous and impossible, he accepted the challenge and divided the concubines into two groups. He chose two of the concubines most loved by King Helu and made them the commander of each group.
Sun Tzu is said to have given the group order and was greeted by the concubines with laughter and giggles. After giving the order twice, he ordered the execution of the two leaders of the group, who were both the king’s favorite whores. As a result of the punishment, he managed to form the remaining concubines into soldiers.
His book was adapted for television broadcasts.
There are millions of books written over the years, but very few writers can say that their work has been adapted for modern media. His book, allegedly first written in 512 B.C., was adapted for television by Zhang Jizhong, a Chinese television producer.
The book was made into a TV series called ‘Bing Sheng’ and lasted 40 episodes. Sun Tzu was played by the Chinese actor Zhu Yawen.
Sun Tzu’s book is an integral part of modern warfare.
Although his book was first written as a treatise for the war between states in the old Chinese states of his time, it has remained valid to this day and has become a major influence among modern military states. His book has influenced the Japanese forces, the Vietnamese forces, who blame the book for the Asian country’s victory over the French and American forces during the Vietnam War. The book is also a part of the U.S. Army curriculum and it exists in every library of the U.S. Army institution.
The art of war is considered an example of Taoist strategy
The original text of the book was written in Chinese and therefore contains several texts and annotations which, when translated into a Western language, lack the Chinese context. This has been hinted at to suggest that Sun Tzu wrote the book for an enlightened Taoist master, and thus it was written in the context of Taoist principles and strategy.
Sun Tzu’s book has been translated more than five times
The original text was written in Old Chinese and translated into the Western language by a few authors and published by various publishers such as Oxford University Press, Luzac and Company, Random House and a few others.
The book has been translated by such personalities as Thomas Cleary, John Minford, and Roger Arnes. However, the 1910 translation by Lionel Giles is generally considered the best.