As much as I had always heard about Sun Tzu's handbook, The Art of War, I had never read it. When I spotted this Penguin Great Ideas paperback during a recent vacation, however, I jumped at the chance to read it.
The best thing about Sun Tzu, especially in this translation, is his brevity. I read the entire book--just over 100 pages--in about an hour, and I'm a pretty slow reader. Master Sun's maxims are translated in short lines of verse, and are masterfully concise.
While I enjoyed The Art of War, at the end I couldn't help but wonder what all the fuss was about. I had always heard Sun Tzu referred to by businessmen and armchair generals with a worshipful reverence. No mean student of military history myself, I wasn't especially impressed with the advice given here. I suppose The Art of War will be a revelation to someone who has never been given to strategic thought, but very little of it struck a chord of originality with me.
Overall, though, I found this to be an enjoyable read. Thanks to its shortness, I'll probably read it again, perhaps soon. This edition from Penguin is also very affordable, which is another plus. I'd recommend it to anyone wanting to pass some idle time in martial thought, or to anyone brand-new to the idea of strategy.