Two things have kept me busy in the past few months: new employment and Star Trek. Reengaging with past Star Trek series (mostly Deep Space Nine and Enterprise) has reminded me how much the franchise has affected my life as well as inspired several Star Trek-themed blog posts). So I came across The Klingon Art of War (not an affiliate link), I was curious about whether it would be a similar-themed leadership guide for nonprofits and social enterprise as Wess Roberts’ Make It So: Leadership Lessons from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Although it is less didactic than Make It So, Star Trek – The Klingon Art of War functions as a smart, savvy reworking of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Organized into ten “principles” with related stories, Klingon Art of War serves less as a practical leadership guide and more of a metaphorical exploration into leadership strategy. (In fairness, author Keith R.A. Candido’s intention was focused on highlighting Klingon history and lore, not focusing on business leadership). However, recontextualizing Sun Tzu’s theories through a Klingon perspective provides an easier way to understand. (Especially given the high prevalence of “honor” in Klingon society which could easily be translated into “integrity” in our present times).
Even for those working remotely (like me) and dealing with COVID-19 related issues, The Klingon Art of War provides some strong ideas about personal conduct. Despite harsh-sounding phrases like “Choose Your Enemies Well” and “Always Die Standing Up”, Star Trek – The Klingon Art of War promotes a positive, straightforward approach to handling matters. Even the book’s main narrative conceit – a Klingon scholar describing his reaction to these stories – provides insight into how text can be interpreted and misinterpreted. As much as Sun Tzu’s The Art of War focused on strategy and winning every battle, Star Trek – The Klingon Art of War focuses on personal integrity and perceptions of situations. Although it isn’t a substitute for other resources, Star Trek – The Klingon Art of War provides a metaphorical exploration of living with integrity.
For Star Trek fans, The Klingon Art of War also provides some great background on Klingon culture and society within the series. Several appendices explain Klingon weapons, a practical application of Klingon principles, and understanding a historical context. Although it may seem frivolous to give meaning to tie-in literature, Star Trek – The Klingon Art of War cannot help but feel appropriate during this time. With several Star Trek series attempting to deconstruct Trek lore, The Klingon Art of War (published in 2014) reconstructs Klingon lore into a great mix of insightful tie-in literature and practical guide.
I highly recommend Star Trek – The Klingon Art of War for nonprofit and social enterprise leaders, Star Trek fans, and people looking for an entertaining diversion.
For now, though, I am now considering taking Klingon language lessons thanks to this book.
And thanks for reading!