What Is The Art Of War?
The Art Of War is an old Chinese military book written thousands of years ago by Sun Tzu. The book covers war and strategy. While the book has direct and literal application, it is more useful in the modern age because its abstract theories can be applied by analogy.
For example “Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.” This can be taken literally meaning don’t put your swords into salt water. It can also be taken metaphorically meaning any weapon can be harmed if put in the wrong situation. This idea can be applied to a modern business situation. For example, yelling is a weapon for intimidating or communicating over long distances. Yelling might be useful and expected a construction site, but it would make you look out of control and weak in an office setting. In other words yelling in an office would be like putting your sword in salt water. It isn’t the right situation to use the weapon in and can result in harm to your ability to do battle.
The book is made up of 13 chapters that are each focused on a specific part of warfare. It is a literary classic because of its unique insight into the period, its wide use at the time, and its ability to remain relevant.
What Are the 33 Strategies Of War?
The 33 Strategies Of War was written by the famous author of the 48 Laws Of Power, Robert Greene. This book covers strategies on how to win at war, beginning with self directed warfare, and ending dirty warfare.
The section on self directed warfare takes a different approach to war. Instead of focusing on attacking and defending, it theorizes that the most important battle you will wage is understanding and mastering yourself.
The next section talks about team warfare strategies, like how to get a bunch of selfish individuals operating as a team unit.
There is a section on defensive warfare strategies, offensive warfare tactics, and dirty warfare.
This book does have theory in it, but he draws on theory and focuses it on showing you how to practically apply the strategy at hand. It gives you a general framework you can use for actually attacking in real life. He does this through real life stories, both ancient and modern, and keys to warfare like how to go about pretending to surrender.
Art Of War VS The 33 Strategies
Besides the obvious difference in authors, the two books differ in how they approach the content. Both books cover power, strategy, manipulation, and most importantly warfare. They just do it in different ways.
The Art Of War is very theoretical and abstract. It requires that you make analogical inferences to your life. On the other hand the 33 Strategies is more practical and involves less creative thinking. It does include some theory, and even references Sun Tzu, but it is focused on helping people know the steps necessary for carrying out a modern social attack campaign. If you are interested in social warfare, check out our post on character assassination here.
If you want a book that is a literary classic and you don’t mind abstracting out a modern application for the strategies, you should choose Art Of War.
If you want to cut right to the chase with a practical and straight forward way to be better at modern war, and you don’t care that the material isn’t 100% new, the 33 Strategies is for you.
If you want to improve your personal power and are just getting started, we suggest the 33 Strategies, as it will do more to increase your personal power, faster.