This article about the current financial crisis brilliant summarizes the skepticism about Sun Tzu in this quote from Lorelei Gilmore, a fictional character on the long-running “Gilmore Girls” sitcom:
“It’s a classic Sun Tzu ‘Art of War’ maneuver. If you’re being attacked from the east, attack whoever’s to your west, and you were the west. I never read the book. It’s full of crap like that.”
This quote captures all the major features of criticisms of classical strategy by modern culture. It is even more perfect because it is concisely formulated by the minds of Hollywood script writers. They have no clue what the book is about, but they think that it is about attacking people. They, of course, have never read it but know without a doubt it that it is full of crap because…uh…uh… uh…it has the word “war” in it title. Who needs to know more than that? Beautiful!
The writer of the article, James Schlett, is clearly less skeptical. He notes right from it beginning:
Entrepreneurs have long striven to apply to business the warfare strategies outlined by the Chinese general and philosopher Sun Tzu.
Chief executive officers from Oracle Corp.’s Lawrence Ellison to General Electric Co.’s Jack Welch have attributed their success to the principles detailed in Tzu’s “The Art of War,” which was written in the 6th century B.C.
Science of Strategy Institute