15 September 2005

The Selective Bookshelf

When I came across my old grad school copy of The Art of War, I remembered my distaste for it and wondered why I'd kept it. Then I remembered I was still an indiscriminate packrat in those days.

I was going to just put it in the weeded stack bound for library donation, but I wondered if I might view it differently now. The instructor who'd assigned the book oozed sleaze. He was (probably still is) a film producer, and his favorite film was the repugnant Bad Lieutenant. If I could've graduated without taking Producing I, I would have.

His business philosophy rose and set with The Art of War. I couldn't stomach it.

This time, I thought of Iraq and war, not business. Of extending one's army far from home for a long time. Of Hero and China's early struggles to become one land. Sun Tzu's advice is sound, but simplistic now for myriad reasons.

As for its business applications, I still don't see how this adversarial approach could play a significant role in any life I might want to lead, but I think I will hang on to the book.


  1. What did James Clavell contribute? A foreward? That might be interesting reading...

  2. I just looked at the cover, and I think it's the first time my brain processed that it's foreword (which seems almost too obvious) and not foreward. (surely a mere typo in your case)

    Yes, Clavell wrote a foreword and also edited that volume. I admit I skipped it this time since I wanted to go straight to the text.