Saturday, August 14, 2010

Who Was Sun Tzu?

Mini Mayor was talking about Sun Tzu recently.  Who was Sun Tzu?  Courtesy of Wikipedia:

Historians have questioned whether or not Sun Tzu was an authentic historical figure. Traditional accounts place him in the Spring and Autumn Period of China (722–481 BC) as a military general serving under King Helü of Wu, who lived c. 544—496 BC. Scholars accepting his historicity place his supposed writing The Art of War in the Warring States Period (476–221 BC), based on the descriptions of warfare in the text. Traditional accounts state that his descendant, Sun Bin, also wrote a treatise on military tactics, titled Sun Bin's Art of War. (Both Sun Wu and Sun Bin were referred to as Sun Tzu in classical Chinese writings, and some historians thought that Sun Wu was in fact Sun Bin until Sun Bin's own treatise was discovered in 1972.)
In the book, Sun Tzu uses language that may be unusual in a Western text on warfare and strategy. For example, the 11th chapter states that a leader must be "serene and inscrutable" and capable of comprehending "unfathomable plans". The text contains similar remarks that have confused Western readers. The meaning of such statements are clearer when interpreted in the context of Taoist thought and practice. Sun Tzu viewed the ideal general as an enlightened Taoist master, which has led to The Art of War being considered a prime example of Taoist strategy. The Art of War is distinguished from similar Western works, such as Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz's On War, by this spiritual dimension. Awareness of the Taoist viewpoint in The Art of War is essential to understanding its intended meaning.
General Vo Nguyen Giap, the military mastermind behind victories over French and the American forces in Vietnam, was an avid student and practitioner of Sun Tzu's ideas.
Historians popularly recount how French emperor Napoleon studied Sun's military writings and used them to successfully wage war against the rest of Europe.

Now it all makes sense!  Mini Mayor and Napolean.   A perfect fit.