I decided to read The Art of War because of references to it in the best/only good general marketing book I read during my commerce education: Marketing Strategy and Competitive Positioning. I was curious to see why a modern marketing handbook would have references to a classic handbook in ancient warfare, and why The Art of War is such a famous book.
I can see why the book is famous: it is because its warfare principles are generally applicable to competitive situations – including marketing and politics (maybe office politics too?)
I expected a heavy brick of an analytic strategy book, but it is the opposite: a thin, minimalist poetry book. It is a piece of art. The patterns of words are aesthetically pleasing and produce vivid imagery of ancient armies moving and battling in rugged terrains; yet the strange scenery and poetic style conveys core strategic principles for competition with great accuracy.
Essentially, The Art of War encourages careful consideration of the dynamics of all situational variables, and discourages impulsive and dumb warfare, which is any warfare driven by an irrational motive, or which can not be won quickly with minimal loss.
This is the style: