This experience is optimized for Internet Explorer version 9 and above.

Please upgrade your browser

Send the Gift of Lifelong Learning!

The Art of War

The Art of War

Gifting Information


To send your gift, please complete the form below. An email will be sent immediately to notify the recipient of your gift and provide them with instructions to redeem it.

  • 500 characters remaining.

Frequently Asked Questions

With an eGift, you can instantly send a Great Course to a friend or loved one via email. It's simple:
1. Find the course you would like to eGift.
2. Under "Choose a Format", click on Video Download or Audio Download.
3. Click 'Send e-Gift'
4. Fill out the details on the next page. You will need to the email address of your friend or family member.
5. Proceed with the checkout process as usual.
Q: Why do I need to specify the email of the recipient?
A: We will send that person an email to notify them of your gift. If they are already a customer, they will be able to add the gift to their My Digital Library and mobile apps. If they are not yet a customer, we will help them set up a new account so they can enjoy their course in their My Digital Library or via our free mobile apps.
Q: How will my friend or family member know they have a gift?
A: They will receive an email from The Great Courses notifying them of your eGift. The email will direct them to If they are already a customer, they will be able to add the gift to their My Digital Library and mobile apps. If they are not yet a customer, we will help them set up a new account so they can enjoy their course in their My Digital Library or via our free mobile apps.
Q: What if my friend or family member does not receive the email?
A: If the email notification is missing, first check your Spam folder. Depending on your email provider, it may have mistakenly been flagged as spam. If it is not found, please email customer service at ( or call 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: How will I know they have received my eGift?
A: When the recipient clicks on their email and redeems their eGift, you will automatically receive an email notification.
Q: What if I do not receive the notification that the eGift has been redeemed?
A: If the email notification is missing, first check your Spam folder. Depending on your email provider, it may have mistakenly been flagged as spam. If it is not found, please email customer service at ( or call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: I don't want to send downloads. How do I gift DVDs or CDs?
A: eGifting only covers digital products. To purchase a DVD or CD version of a course and mail it to a friend, please call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: Oops! The recipient already owns the course I gifted. What now?
A: Great minds think alike! We can exchange the eGifted course for another course of equal value. Please call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: Can I update or change my email address?
A: Yes, you can. Go to My Account to change your email address.
Q: Can I select a date in the future to send my eGift?
A: Sorry, this feature is not available yet. We are working on adding it in the future.
Q: What if the email associated with eGift is not for my regular Great Course account?
A: Please please email customer service at ( or call our customer service team at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance. They have the ability to update the email address so you can put in your correct account.
Q: When purchasing a gift for someone, why do I have to create an account?
A: This is done for two reasons. One is so you can track the purchase of the order in your ‘order history’ section as well as being able to let our customer service team track your purchase and the person who received it if the need arises.
Q: Can I return or Exchange a gift after I purchase it?
A: Because the gift is sent immediately, it cannot be returned or exchanged by the person giving the gift. The recipient can exchange the gift for another course of equal or lesser value, or pay the difference on a more expensive item
Video title

Priority Code


The Art of War

Course No. 9456
Professor Andrew R. Wilson, Ph.D.
U.S. Naval War College
Share This Course
Course No. 9456
Audio Streaming Included Free

Course Overview

As a landmark achievement in the evolution of strategic thought, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War has had a powerful and lasting influence on military strategy around the globe. Its maxims have been invoked by everyone from the nuclear strategists of the cold war to China’s modern cyber warriors.

So universal and timeless are its tactics for pursuing a competitive advantage that some of the most notable people in government, sports, and the entertainment world have all quoted from its nearly 2500-year-old pages.

So why is a Chinese guide to military strategy written in 330 to 320 B.C. so prevalent in modern military operations, business school curricula, sports, and popular culture? What can its lessons offer us today?

As award-winning Professor Andrew R. Wilson of the U.S. Naval War College demonstrates in the six expertly crafted lectures of The Art of War, this classic’s wisdom for staying nimble in an ever-changing environment and for maximizing reward while minimizing risk remains eternally fresh. As war and business become more mental and less physical, human intellect plays an ever greater role in competition—making Sun Tzu’s strategies highly relevant to the information age.

Furthermore, as China becomes increasingly economically influential, militarily capable, and politically assertive, it behooves us to study a book so central to the country’s philosophical past.

Through a precise explanation of the original text and case studies, this course examines how the seminal work’s model of leadership has been applied—and misapplied—throughout the realms of war, politics, business, and beyond.

An Inquiry Grounded in History

As an expert in Chinese history, language, and culture who has studied numerous versions of The Art of War, Professor Wilson is uniquely qualified to orient you to the cultural landscape against which the guide was composed.

You’ll begin your exploration by delving into the work’s likely origins with an anonymous author who appropriated Sun Tzu’s military credentials two centuries after his death. Then, you’ll trace how dramatic changes in the scale, scope, and expense of war between the 8th and 4th centuries B.C. inspired this new strategic paradigm.

You’ll learn how

  • armies of aristocrats from feuding confederations waged battles predicated on ritual, glory, and vengeance during the Zhou dynasty in the 8th century B.C.;
  • the dominant northern state of Qi began to choose the talent of commanders over a noble pedigree in the 7th century B.C.; and
  • organized states with massive armies and standardized weaponry formed in the Warring States period that spanned the 5th to 3rd centuries B.C., yet anachronistic notions about war prevailed.

With this historical framework established, you’re ready to delve into the critical calculations that must be made prior to war—what Sun Tzu refers to as knowing the enemy, knowing ourselves.

A New Model of Leadership

The Art of War is both a guide for competition and preparing so well for competition that one’s organizational strength and focus awes the enemy into giving up without a fight. Through the professor’s use of real-world examples, you’ll understand the qualities effective commanders must possess and the work’s practical implications for outmaneuvering competitors in daily life.

Beyond the Modern Phenomenon

Sun Tzu’s words are often easy fodder for superficial approaches to the work. However, The Art of War eschews reducing the maxims to mere platitudes and removing the lessons from their original context.

As an expert in Chinese strategic thought who is so passionate about this book that he’s read the original text word for word in classical Chinese, Professor Wilson demonstrates the nuanced meaning of the language, along with the work’s contemporary value, from a scholarly perspective that makes your independent reading exponentially more vital. By taking this course, you will appreciate Sun Tzu’s content on a far deeper level.

Hide Full Description
6 lectures
 |  28 minutes each
Year Released: 2012
  • 1
    The Origins of a Revolutionary Classic
    The Art of War has a timeless appeal, but it is the product of a unique time and place. Learn the historical context that gave rise to the book by investigating the centrality of war in ancient China and the dramatic societal shifts taking place. Gain insight into what scholars believe about the author’s identity. x
  • 2
    Command and Method
    The key to winning without fighting lies first in the quality of leadership and the reputation of an organization. Examine key elements of effective command and method, first as they are developed in The Art of War itself, and then as they were exemplified by the early success of the Ford Motor Company. x
  • 3
    Weather and Terrain
    Great leaders know how and when to exploit geography and psychology. Learn the role climate and terrain played in Washington’s crossing the Delaware, Mao Zedong’s advance into Korea, and other military offensives. Investigate how leadership and organization converged with weather and terrain to allow the Greeks at Thermopylae to hold off a vastly larger Persian army. x
  • 4
    Energy and Timing
    Being in the right place at the right time shouldn’t be left to fate. In this lecture, you’ll probe the concept of shi, or focused potential energy, and how effective leaders combine this force with an exceptional sense of timing. See how Sun Tzu’s strategies for outmaneuvering competitors have been applied in war, business, and sports. x
  • 5
    Espionage and Deception
    The Art of War’s greatest contribution to the world of competitive strategy may be its detailed treatment of information warfare and intelligence gathering. Differentiate between active and passive deception, learn the value of various types of spies, and investigate the historical use of espionage, including one of the worst intelligence disasters in American history. x
  • 6
    An Enduring Guide for Interesting Times
    Delve more deeply into how this classic relates to all intellectual contests of wills, from armies to competing corporations. Consider its potential relevance to the economic, political, and military rise of contemporary China, including the implications of legal warfare and the concept of shi as it relates to cyber security and warfare. x

Lecture Titles

Clone Content from Your Professor tab

What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Audio Download Includes:
  • Ability to download 6 audio lectures from your digital library
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
CD Includes:
  • 6 lectures on 3 CDs
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

Enjoy This Course On-the-Go with Our Mobile Apps!*

  • App store App store iPhone + iPad
  • Google Play Google Play Android Devices
  • Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Tablet + Firephone
*Courses can be streamed from anywhere you have an internet connection. Standard carrier data rates may apply in areas that do not have wifi connections pursuant to your carrier contract.

Your professor

Andrew R. Wilson

About Your Professor

Andrew R. Wilson, Ph.D.
U.S. Naval War College
Dr. Andrew R. Wilson is Professor of Strategy and Policy at the United States Naval War College in Newport, RI. He received a B.A. in East Asian Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and earned his Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages from Harvard University. An award-winning professor and an expert in both military history and strategic theory, Professor Wilson has lectured on Asian military history,...
Learn More About This Professor
Also By This Professor


Rated 4 out of 5 by 50 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 by A balanced, yet thorough, presentation of the text As an early Chinese specialist who teaches a semester-long undergraduate course on the Art of War (and who also reads classical Chinese), I found Professor Wilson's course to be exceptionally well organized. His presentation of the cultural and historical context of the text is first rate. His methodical explanation of the contents and progression of each of the chapters of the text is masterful. And his discussion of practical contemporary applications of the text is well-evidenced, relevant, and entertaining. I strongly recommend this course to anyone who *really* wants to understand the Art of War. May 21, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Worth doing over This is a short course about an even shorter book and as "The Great Courses" go it's pretty easy. When authored "The Art of War" revolutionized strategic thinking. Today it seems more like the basics. Don't let that fool you. Professor Wilson guides you around the platitudes often accompany classics like this to the key tenets with examples from historical battles, business, and life. He makes it vividly clear why "The Art of War" is so timeless. The basics are often timeless. A funny thing about the basics though is that we often fail to apply them. Perhaps we forget, perhaps we neglect. The professor explains that "The Art of War" is so spare and eloquent that it deserves to be read and reread to learn and to keep those basics fresh in our minds. I think the same can be said for this course. January 9, 2017
Rated 4 out of 5 by A Good Short Course I recommend this course to anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of ancient Chinese warfare applying its lessons to modern business. I listened to the audio version while driving to and from work and it made my commute pleasent and enjoyable. This is a very short course, so I will give a short review. The course overviews Sun Tzu's Art of War and the context it existed in very well. I just wish the course was a little longer because I enjoyed it so much. November 19, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by New Insight Having read the book several times over the last few years, this course gave me new insight to a book I thought I knew. September 2, 2016
  • 2017-01-18 T06:33:51.163-06:00
  • bvseo_lps, prod_bvrr, vn_prr_5.6
  • cp-1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_50, tr_50
  • loc_en_US, sid_9456, prod, sort_default
2 3 next>>

Questions & Answers

Customers Who Bought This Course Also Bought

Buy together as a Set
Save Up To $143.00
Choose a Set Format