The Art of War
Updated: Aug 16
By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on March 29, 2023
My favorite book is The Art of War by the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu (5th century B.C.). Wikipedia describes this book well. I have used the strategies and tactics taught in The Art of War throughout my legal career.
The Art of War is composed of 13 chapters. Each one is devoted to a different set of skills or art related to warfare and how it applies to military strategy and tactics.
For almost 1,500 years, this book was the lead text in an anthology that was formalized as the Seven Military Classics by Emperor Shenzong of Song in 1080. The Art of War remains the most influential strategy text in East Asian warfare and has influenced both East Asian and Western military theory and thinking and has found a variety of applications in a myriad of competitive non-military endeavors across the modern world including espionage, culture, politics, business, and sports.
The book contains a detailed explanation and analysis of the 5th-century B.C. Chinese military, from weapons, environmental conditions, and strategy to rank and discipline. Sun also stressed the importance of intelligence operatives and espionage to the war effort. Considered one of history's finest military tacticians and analysts, his teachings and strategies formed the basis of advanced military training for millennia to come.
I have two favorite movies: The 1968 Clint Eastwood classic, “Hang ‘Em High” and Sylvester Stallone’s 1982 action hit, “Rambo: First Blood.”
Hang ‘Em High
After a gang of men unsuccessfully tried to lynch him for a cattle-rustling crime he did not commit, Jed Cooper (Clint Eastwood) is saved by marshal Dave Bliss (Ben Johnson) and judge Adam Fenton (Pat Hingle). The lawmen offer Cooper a job as a federal marshal with the caveat that he refrain from using his the power of his new law enforcement position to go after the men who tried to lynch him. But, when Cooper finds that some of the men who attacked him are involved in another set of crimes, he brings them to justice.
Rambo: First Blood
Vietnam veteran and drifter John J. Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) wanders into a small Washington town in search of an old friend. Rambo is met with intolerance and brutality by the local sheriff, Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy). When Teasle and his deputies restrain and shave Rambo, he flashes back to his time as a prisoner of war and unleashes his fury on the officers. Rambo narrowly escapes the manhunt, but it will take his former commander (Richard Crenna) to save the hunters from the hunted.
The takeaways from these two movies have inevitably bled over into my professional life. Combined with The Art of War, these works of art have sharpened my fighting skills, honed my ability to focus on the strategies and tactics for favorable outcomes in various legal battles, and enhanced my ability to defeat a host of mighty forces that hinder equal rights for all, fair play in business, and the fair administration of justice.