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Sun Tzu Was a Sissy: Conquer Your Enemies, Promote Your Friends, and Wage the Real Art of War by Sta

Robert McEvily

In Bing's world, only loved ones are entitled to the smallest sliver of loyalty; everyone else is the enemy. And in Bing's world, you crush the enemy.


Sun Tzu Was a Sissy

Publisher: HarperBusiness
Length: 211 ; $19.95
Subtitle: Conquer Your Enemies, Promote Your Friends, and Wage the Real Art of War
Author: Stanley Bing
US publication date: 2004-10
Amazon

Stanley Bing, whose author photo lends him the cartoonish intensity of The Year Without a Santa Claus's Heat Miser, dedicates his latest work to Alexander the Great, Bobby Fischer, Bill Gates, and George W. Bush. The Bush nod is most telling. Bing congratulates the President "for his determination to finish up his father's war no matter what." In Bing's world, only loved ones are entitled to the smallest sliver of loyalty -- everyone else is the enemy. And in Bing's world, you crush the enemy. Any enemy. Every enemy.

It's an easy argument that the level of rage in our society is at an all-time high. Think of the recent Pistons-Pacers brawl as a peek at what bubbles just beneath our collective psyche. Think of it also as an effective CEO's mind in action, and you've taken your first step to seeing the world Bing-style. "There is tremendous power in anger," he advises. Work is war-like; only the mean advance. We must expect nastiness. We must be prepared.

In one of many charts to help you visualize his gospel -- charts which burn plenty of space, giving the book an undeserved page count over 200 -- "Concern for the Welfare of Other People" is directly opposed to "Success in War." Bing's newest business bible is a feel-good tome for people who don't need people -- his luckiest people in the world. "Have a lot of parties," he advises our current corporate leaders. "They build camaraderie and fool people into believing that the organization cares more about them as individuals then it actually does." Sharp wit shedding light on uncomfortable truth -- Bing in a nutshell.

In What Would Machiavelli Do?, his superior book where "the Ends Justify the Meanness," there's plenty of cold-hearted advice for the wanna-be backstabbing corporate climber. In light of that book's success and the demand it created for more of the same, perhaps a little too much advice. There's not much left for Bing to draw on or expose. His Sun Tzu angle is a neat one though, and he does an admirable job maximizing its potential.

Most fundamental of Sun Tzu's principles is that "All warfare is based on deception." Bing ironically rejects this principle in favor of direct confrontation. (Ironic in that "Stanley Bing," a pseudonym, is a deception which grants him license to safely goof on executive types, both real and imagined.) Also rejected is the notion that "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting." Here's where the famous Chinese general earns his sissyness. With chapter titles like "Inflicting Pain," "Abandoning Sympathy," and "Getting People to Fight: A Brief Course," you can imagine why Bing views the general as a tad less than manly.

Of course the fun here is Bing's wink-wink toughness. Yes, enemies are lashed and grudges are carried, but his tongue is firmly placed in cheek. His writing style -- blunt, crisp and conversational -- is great fun to read. It's the truth behind the fun that's shocking and sobering, a truth that elevates the book from a silly diversion to a crash course on the chilly reality of professional human nature.


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