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VP, Human Resources

Owens Corning


Master of Science

Rutgers University

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

An avid reader, Barry Melnkovic countsThe Art of War by Sun Tzu among his favorite works. An ancient Chinese text commonly attributed to the general and military strategist Sun Tzu, The Art of War currently enjoys status as one of the most comprehensive works on the subject of military tactics. The text has had a profound influence on modern military strategies, acting as a reference for such varied leaders as Mao Zedong, Napoleon, and Douglas MacArthur. Many have also hailed the work for its relevance to matters of business, citing the importance of positioning and an objective analysis of a situation.The book features 13 chapters, each describing a specific aspect of military tactics. The first chapter, considered by many to be one of the most significant sections in The Art of War, deals with the importance of laying plans. According to Sun Tzu, a commander must take into account five distinct factors before entering battle: the loyalty of troops to their commander, environmental considerations such as time of day and seasons, topographical features of the battlefield, the virtues of the commander, and the techniques used to effectively manage an army. In addition to stressing the importance of proper preparation for battle, this pivotal chapter also places an emphasis on the importance of deceiving and out-thinking one’s opponent. According to Sun Tzu, “Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.”Chapters two through six deal with the development of positional tactics and a plan of attack. In these sections, Sun Tzu describes the importance of strength as unity, successfully defending positions until the commander is ready to move out, and exploiting weaknesses in the enemy’s tactics. In chapters seven and eight, Sun Tzu begins to focus on how to win a direct conflict with the enemy and adjust tactics as the battle progresses. Chapters 9 through 11 describe the effects that terrain can have on a battle and how to establish advantageous situational positioning. The final two chapters deal with the five types of environmental attacks and the importance of developing good information sources.For the full text of The Art of War as translated in 1910 by Lionel Giles, M.A., visit