Mastering The Art of War touts itself (or its authors - Liu Ji and Zhuge Liang, or its translator Thomas Cleary does) as exploring some of the wisdoms of two books of ancient Chinese origin: Sun Tzu's The Art of War (a book about strategy) and I Ching - (the Book of Changes containing 360 insights to help people deal with change - 1 for each day of the lunar year). I have not read either yet, but now am more than ever looking forward to the time and place!
One of the extracts from Mastering the Art of War I keep thinking about (especially in terms of "things no one taught me at school!")
"Hard though it may be to know people, there are ways:
1. Question them concerning right and wrong, to observe their ideas
2. Exhaust all their arguments, to see how they change
3. Consult with them about strategy, to see how perceptive they are
4. Announce that there is trouble, to see how brave they are
5. Get them drunk, to observe their nature
6. Present them with the prospect of gain, to see how modest they are
7. Give them a task to do within a specified time, to see how trustworthy they are"
Why I recommend Mastering The Art of War:
Reason 1: It is really short, condensed, well written and edited, and reads very quickly
Reason 2: It has been 2 weeks since I finished it, and I am still thinking back to some of the wisdom from some of the pages, hence I am "forced" to blog about this book now (when I really don't have time!)
Reason 3: There are many pearls and interesting historical stories of China's history and ancient ways of life - such as the one I extracted above.
This one seems to be the most popular amazon.co.uk seller for I Ching (ranked 28632 today) . According to Mastering The Art of War, the I Ching is not supposed to be used for divination purposes at all - a rule that was once stricly adhered to in ancient times when it was decreed forbidden to do so!