The Art of War

By: Sun Tzu
Narrated by: Aidan Gillen
Length: 1 hr and 7 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (13,348 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The 13 chapters of The Art of War, each devoted to one aspect of warfare, were compiled by the high-ranking Chinese military general, strategist, and philosopher Sun-Tzu. In spite of its battlefield specificity, The Art of War has found new life in the modern age, with leaders in fields as wide and far-reaching as world politics, human psychology, and corporate strategy finding valuable insight in its timeworn words.

Aidan Gillen - who has learned a thing or two about strategy through his roles as skilled manipulator Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish (Game of Thrones) and ambitious politician Tommy Carcetti (The Wire) - brilliantly performs this ancient classic. His experience in portraying insightful and, at times, cunning characters makes him a natural fit for this ancient collection of battlefield epigrams whose influence has grown tremendously in the modern world.

Public Domain (P)2015 Audible Inc.

Featured Article: 20 Best Classic Audiobooks to Listen to Again and Again


Classics are known for their timeless quality, their ability to endure through generations and still hold something significant for the modern listener—whether it’s commentary on a long-gone era or an ageless tale of adventure. In this roundup, each story is paired with an exceptional, show-stopping narrator who takes the tale to new heights. While you may have read some of the stories below, you’ve certainly never heard them quite like this.

What listeners say about The Art of War

Average Customer Ratings
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The actual book The Art of War, not a commentary

Excellent reading by Aidan Quinn, and a nice translation by an uncredited translator.

People sometimes assume that because The Art of War is short, and it mentions Sun Tzu in the text, a given edition is an abridgment or a summary. No, The Art of War is just pithy, and was never intended to be a book. It was written down on scrolls around 500 BC. A translation of the text itself will be no more than 80 pages, often in the form of verse or bullet points, though a given edition might be longer because it contains additional material, such as an introduction and some of the classical commentary. For example, Lionel Giles' translation is 25 pages long and just under 11,000 words.

As for the text speaking of Master Sun saying various things, that's not an uncommon device. The Book of Ecclesiastes does it, too, for example, and so does the Chuang Tzu. "Sun Tzu" appears to be an imaginary authority, inspired by a military expert named Sun Bin, rather than the actual author, so it's pretty logical.

I mention this because at least a couple of the commenters here have come to the wrong conclusions about what this audio book is, and a lot of people have taken their word for it, judging by the approval ratings. This is a very good recording, and it would be a shame to overlook it because of a misunderstanding.

91 people found this helpful

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Not the book

Was not the book I was looking for. I chose the wrong one. Yup yup

23 people found this helpful

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Commentary on The Art of War, not the actual book

I expected this to be a narrated version of Sun Tzu's The Art of War. In reality it is a commentary on the book with some of it read.

141 people found this helpful

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Aidan Gillen needs to narrate more books

What made the experience of listening to The Art of War the most enjoyable?

The narration

What did you like best about this story?

The simplicity, the sensibility that Sun Tzu brought to chaotic war.

Which character – as performed by Aidan Gillen – was your favorite?

...

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

Please have Aidan Gillen narrate The Prince next, and really anything else. This man could read a phone book and I'd pay for it.

119 people found this helpful

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Game of War

The Art of War is a time tested classic of strategy and martial wisdom. The reputation of this book is extremely well known, so I won’t bother reviewing Sun Tzu. If you’ve ever been interested in this text, go for it.

If you’re reading this review, my guess is that you’re wondering about the performance. In short, Aidan Gillen knocks it out of the park. If you’re a fan of Aidan Gillen (or Game of Thrones in general) what could be cooler than being schooled in the art of war by Lord Petyr Baelish himself? You owe it to yourself to give this a listen. Highly recommended!

15 people found this helpful

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Great performance

This ancient text may apply to many people's work. Anyone who works in a competitive environment can benefit from it, even if only a little. Even if you can't benefit from it, this work might help the listener to understand historical works dealing with wars better.

The reading is excellent. Aidan Gillen does a great job reading the text. I don't know if it's because I've been watching Game of Thrones for four seasons, but it sounds like he's using a kind of Littlefinger voice here, which adds to the effect. I'd recommend this audiobook to pretty much anyone, even if they don't have an army.

62 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars

short

there is nothing in the title or the summary of this piece to suggest that it is not the full book, but it is not. it is incredibly short, and full of things that i have already heard.

27 people found this helpful

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Littlefinger brings it home

Aidan Gillen delivers a great performance and keeps the listener interested and engaged through out the entire book!

13 people found this helpful

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NOT THE ACTUAL BOOK!

This is not the actual book, misleading information. Very disappointing, I don't think i even want to look at the actual book anymore.

5 people found this helpful

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Not the book

This is not the real book
This is not the real book
ThisNot the real book

4 people found this helpful

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  • Jonathan Lloyd
  • 07-03-17

Inspiring

I really enjoyed this. Excellent book and Aiden Gillen an inspired choice as narrator. Full marks all round

14 people found this helpful

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  • David Willingale
  • 12-28-17

Timeless

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I bought this audiobook. I had heard of the Art of War and always wanted to read it, as any book that was written more than 2000 years ago and still holds reverence must be worth reading (or listening). The book seemingly offers very generalised advice to military leaders (no pun intended). However in my understanding of the text there are much wider applications of the wisdom shared by Sun Tzu, namely patience and the value of self reflection. As such this book transcends any notion that it is merely an ancient text on military stratagem and is much more akin to allegorical philosophy.

Adian Gillen’s ‘performance’ was excellent, although I have not listened to many audiobooks so I’m not sure what a good performance constitutes. That being said, he has a pleasant, cool and clear voice that resonates well with the text. Although I concede that at times I couldn’t shake the sense that, Petyr Baelish ‘Littlefinger’, was reading this book to me especially when speaking about spies.

There is no story and as such I marked it as five stars. It seemed to make more sense than marking no stars.

Very much worth the price paid, I didn’t use my token though. I thought it might be a waste given it was so cheap to buy.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Hugh Cameron
  • 03-03-18

The narrator had a train to catch.

Sun Tzu speaks with great insight, wisdom and clarity, but the Aidan Gillen spoke too quickly and with no emphasis. He should have paid attention to Sun Tzu's warning not always do the same thing.

14 people found this helpful

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  • stuart
  • 12-29-17

excellent

something I've intended to read for a while, and Aidan Gillen gives an excellent delivery. I'm looking forward to listening to this one again already. The insight into the nuances of war, and the intricacies of character that allow success or failure, is one that can be appropriated to many aspects of life.

3 people found this helpful

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  • P. Duffield
  • 02-04-17

Very Informative and Excellent Performance

Didn't recognise the actor's name but when I recognised him I thought it was an excellent choice. He has a very dry and engaging voice.

It was quite informative and I like all the definitions e.g. intersecting ground. I think I'll have to listen to this again so that all the points sink in.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-04-18

This books is to be read not listened to

This is the kind of book that has to be read instead of listened to so that its meaning can be absorbed and the wording revisited and considered.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kristoffer
  • 01-19-18

Fascinating!!

Incredibly performed. Compelling story with loads of interesting points.

Its an essential, you must read this! Its even at a low price

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mr. R. V. COPE
  • 01-09-18

Master of War

Would you consider the audio edition of The Art of War to be better than the print version?

I've never read the print version but have always wanted to. I'd still like a copy so I could go back and study certain tactics, but I understood everything in the audio version.

What other book might you compare The Art of War to, and why?

Bushido? Only because of the historic aspect and the fact that it teaches you a way of life & war.

What about Aidan Gillen’s performance did you like?

I couldn't think of anyone better to narrate than Aidan Gillen. As soon as I saw that he was the narrated I instantly bought it. He adds a level of cunning and guile that is required in a tactician and no other narrated could have pulled off.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

This isn't the sort of book you could turn into a film - a documentary though. Perhaps "War is barbaric, War is an art"?

2 people found this helpful

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  • Rex Osafo-Asare
  • 08-23-16

Timeless Reading at its best

Aiden Gillen does a great job of narrating this classic. Many are the transferable tactics, strategies and mindset towards any business, political or economic venture worth pursuing. Definitely worth investing in!

4 people found this helpful

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  • Mr Guy T Murch
  • 05-09-19

Nice little look into a recognised and established work

There are different versions on Audible. This is a great version broken down into bite size chapters. Delivered in an easy to listen manner.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-08-17

And you thought he ran a solid bordello?

Littlefinger narrates The Art of War. 'nuff said... except these seven words required for review.

6 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 08-04-19

must read for an enterprise

fundamentals of what drives startegy in an enterprise... very simple and we'll narrated ..must read if U are an enetrpurner

2 people found this helpful

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  • Lee
  • 05-23-15

Perfect union of ancient and fictional strategists

I truly enjoyed this translation of The Art of War, both the strategies and tactics themselves and the way Sun Tzu's hands the advice down. Indeed the content is often dry, with absolute clarity with each factor and situation described; there is no room for ambiguity. Somewhat surprisingly to me, I found the lack of fanfare both engaging and refreshing.

My darker sense of humour is tickled when Giles describes outcomes for the weakest of leaders. I am sure Giles detected a tone of disdain in sections within the original. Some sections feel slightly repetitive, but the flow of the chapters and the overall message remains intact.

As an avid fans of the Game of Thrones television, I'd argue no other character plays the cold strategist as does 'Littlefinger'. He is stone-faced in both planning and execution of his political agenda; even the few bouts of passion seem only a dramatisation for the benefit of the ruse, and not genuine emotion at all. This is why I believe the reading by Aidan Gillen is so perfect for this book.

With Gillen's voice already associated with the detached persona of Baelish, the delivery parallels the cold strategic and tactical content. Hearing Gillen speak of 'utter disorganisation' and 'the coyness of a maiden' caused me to chuckle quietly, highlighting again the precise matching of the reading to the text.

LAST WORDS: If you have ever enjoyed an episode of Game of Thrones, and found yourself having even a single enemy, do yourself a favour: spend 67 minutes listening to this engaging performance of a most important work.

2 people found this helpful

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  • J.Robertson
  • 03-21-17

The voice of GoT!!

None better I think for a performance like Aidan Gillen's voice!

A man whose voice is fit for the narration of a classic like Sun Tzu.

The book is highly revered because of its timeless wisdom in dealing with ones enemy and helps a person to look inwardly and to self examine ones own understanding of themselves and to then negate the reaction and instead make the calculated move.

Thoroughly enjoyed this rendition of the book.

If a con, I would of preferred if the book was broken up just a touch more between each point. Although the reading was seamless, it was hard to comprehend each point because it moved so quickly.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Duane
  • 08-15-16

An inspiring if somewhat dated read

Though references to banners & chariots may betray the relevancy of Sun Tsu's insight in daily life, the art of war is a truly fascinating read.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-04-20

incredible read!

incredible read. will not find a better suited voice! felt like I was learning real time game of thrones tactics.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-03-20

Good for generals and psychopaths

Really good advice if you're about to go to war or if you're a sociopath. Otherwise completely useless.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-15-20

boring

could not get into this book. have tried another one on the art of war and had the same experience.
don't waste your time.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-30-20

Great Book, Great Reader

Only negative is the music, wasn't enough of it. Aiden Gillen is a great reader for a must hear book.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 05-21-20

fantastic

little Finger was perhaps the best choice of person to use for this book. 5 Stars