Book Review: The Art of War for Women

“Strategy is not about rules, it’s about adaptation.”

“The Art of War is…about how you deal with the cards that life has dealt you – it is a holistic approach to winning.”
– Chin-ning Chu

The Art of War.
That title alone puts me to sleep.

I’ve tried reading it several times, each time failing to get through 10 pages, let alone learning something that would help me be a more effective project manager.

So when I read the cover of The Art of War for Women, I objected to it: first, because it seemed like an admission of my inability to get through the original book, second, because I didn’t like the idea of a “women’s version” and finally, because I didn’t want to fail to appreciate the “watered down” version for the girls.

But after reading the book, I want to go back and try to make my way through the original. The Art of War for Women is worth a read because it:

  • Leads us back to the original Art of War

    Thanks to Chin-ning Chu’s skillful explanation of the principles, you begin to understand the value of the insights found in the original. It really is about winning with the cards you’ve been dealt.  Since this is a quality of successful people, the original book is something to check out if you want to succeed.

    With The Art of War for Women, you also begin to understand how to read obscure sentences like “Armed with the sense of righteousness and the blessings from Heaven, your army becomes fearless.” Chu presents this principle and then begins an excellent discussion on how you can make righteousness decisions that help you and your team succeed. After reading this book, I now understand how to read the original principles and derive useful insight for my career.

  • Provides Success Levers

    I read business books to find ideas that I can use as levers to improve my effectiveness and then, through this blog, share the best ideas and books with others. While this book has ideas and advice derived from the Art of War, it has plenty of advice from the 21st century to make it worth reading in its own right. Managing your blue moments to encourage creativity and creating a unique resume to sell your abilities are a few of the useful tips that are packed in with insights from the original Art of War.

  • Reframes the idea of War

    The title of the original, The Art of War, makes me think of a battle with casualties and blood. When today’s buzz words are collaboration and motivation, warring with others or other teams seems out of date. Chu explains that to the Chinese, war did not revolve around fighting.

    Instead, war was “determining the most efficient way of gaining victory with the least amount of conflict.”Throughout the book, she provides insight on how to read the political landscape, improve your timing, and develop the indefinable quality of “Presence,” in an effort to help you win battles before you start.

    Trust me, this is a book you want to purchase.Have a book to recommend? Leave a comment, send me a tweet, my id is jgodfrey


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  2. Hi Joelle,

    I haven’t read “The Art of War of Women” yet. I have only read “The Art of War” of Sun Tzu from cover to cover. At first, my mindset before I read it was one of philosophy – because of my major. But lately I rediscovered something else in it. Not just something due to what I read from other authors about its application, but a much deeper and personal interpretation that’s not only useful in my training work but also in my life. I can say that it’s so rich in wisdom that it goes beyond the aspect of war.

    It’s not really about war only, but more so of being a master in the art of living. That’s what I personally found in the pages of this classical work.

    Omel @

  3. Thanks Omel,

    That’s part of what I picked up from Chu’s interpretation of The Art of War. It’s actually what she mentions in the introduction to the book: that The Art of War is a holistic approach to winning.

    It’s what continues to draw me to Eastern philosophy: the sense that life is one whole and should be lived holistically, instead of compartmentalized into different buckets (work versus personal or body vs mind vs spirit).

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