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The Art of War was an ancient Chinese philosophical treatise written by Sun Tzu on Earth during the 6th century BC. The book offered maxims for the strategic and tactical conduct of military campaigns. The treatise was widely influential on that planet and its wisdom survived into the 24th century, when it was still required reading at Starfleet Academy. (TNG: "The Last Outpost")

Sun Tzu once said that "the greatest victories are those won without fighting".[1] When Malcolm Reed quoted him thus to Marab in 2154, the Klingon replied with the opposite viewpoint of Kahless, who had once said "there is no victory without combat". (ENT: "Divergence")

Sun Tzu also said "All warfare is based on deception. When you are able to attack, you must seem unable",[2] as well as "He will triumph who knows when to fight and when not to fight",[3] and "Know your enemy and know yourself, and you will always be victorious". (DIS: "Battle at the Binary Stars"; TNG: "The Last Outpost")

Sun Tzu stated "Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of your opponent's fate".[4] Both Saru and Philippa Georgiou were familiar with this saying, even though Georgiou was from the mirror universe. (DIS: "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2")

Ambassador Dak'Rah, a former Klingon general, considered The Art of War a "most inspired Human masterpiece". (SNW: "Under the Cloak of War")



  1. "Therefore, one who is skilled in warfare principles subdues the enemy without doing battle, takes the enemy's walled city without attacking, and overthrows the enemy quickly, without protracted warfare." - Chapter 3, saying 8
  2. "Warfare is the Way of deception. Therefore, if able, appear unable; if active, appear inactive; if near, appear far; if far, appear near." - Chapter 1, sayings 13-14
  3. "Therefore, there are five factors of knowing who will win: (1) One who knows when he can fight, and when he cannot fight, will be victorious; (2) One who knows how to use both large and small forces will be victorious; (3) One who knows how to unite upper and lower ranks in purpose will be victorious; (4) One who is prepared and waits for the unprepared will be victorious; (5) One whose general is able and is not interfered by the ruler will be victorious. These five factors are the way to know who will win." - Chapter 3, sayings 18-22
  4. "Subtle, subtle; they become formless. Mysterious, mysterious; they become soundless. Therefore, they are the masters of the enemy's fate." - Chapter 6, saying 10

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