First off, I’ll say this, I own a version of the book (I’ll upload a picture of it when I get home late tonight) which I’ve read a couple of times, and I find it fascinating reading. So, with the Audible version only being a couple of quid, I thought ‘why the hell not?’ and picked it up.


From an ex-soldier perspective, you can see many things that Sun Tzu realised, that the folks in charge of our forces still don’t seem to have grasped, and there’s many that struck a chord when you think about the way the world works nowadays. This one in particular made me think of the countless places that have been blown to pieces in the past few decades, inevitably followed by years and years of trouble and strife.

“Sun Tzu said: In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.”

When I read this, and then think of the devastation that some countries (I’m not writing this to point fingers) have caused to others, levelling cities and ruining the infrastructure, it’s an odd thing that someone so long ago, could write something so correct. When you take into account civilian casualties, and the reaction this causes in the long run, you can see why Sun Tzu said this. That’s my penny’s worth anyhow.

Regardless, the audiobook is the same as the book, it reels off his words, almost in monotone, as it isn’t a work of prose, it’s more like an instruction booklet. So rather than following a plot, it’ll take you from one point to another connected point.

I like it because the teachings can be looked at by hundreds of people, and if you take the thing as a whole, it’d be ideal for everyone to read, as a lot can be applied to normal day to day life, albeit with a little re-jigging. Like this one:

“Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.”

It’s something I did (or at least tried to, the section themselves would be the judge of that) as a section commander, and also while acting as troop sergeant. It seemed to work well, look after your people, and they look after you. I know a fair few managers who could learn A LOT from this section, but again, I’m not here to point fingers.

Overall, I prefer reading the book to the audible equivalent (something I’d forgotten I’d bought, and then bought another copy, so I have two audible versions), but, it did come with a surprising addition which was pretty cool. With the whole thing being only an hour and forty long, I was surprised when the book finished (somewhere near the hour mark) and “a 43-minute collection of Zen-inspired Japanese music by the Matsu Take Ensemble” began. The Matsu Take Ensemble are good though, and it made for a totally different and mellow musical experience, and to be honest, I’d pay the quid or so for the audiobook for the music alone.

It’s cheap as chips and takes less than two hours of your life to listen to, so I’d say go and get it, but I’d also recommend getting a copy of the book itself, as I enjoyed the read rather than the listen