The Art of War

The Art of War

Book - 2003
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For more than two thousand years, Sun-tzu's The Art of War has provided leaders with essential advice on battlefield tactics, managing troops and terrain, and employing cunning and deception. An elemental part of Chinese culture, it has also become a touchstone for the Western struggle for survival and success, whether in battle, in business or in relationships. Now, in this crisp, accessible new translation, John Minford brings this seminal work to life for today's readers.

Capturing the literary quality of The Art of War - its lucid, epigrammatic, almost poetic style - as well as its philosophical and strategic content, Minford present the core text in two different formats. First, the unadorned thirteen chapters allow readers to form their own first impressions of the ancient words of wisdom ascribed to Sun-tzu. Then the same text appears with extensive running commentary from the canon of traditional Chinese commentators and others, providing context and subtext to the work. A lively, learned introduction, chronologies, suggested readings, and other valuable apparatus round this authoritative volume. Even those readers familiar with The Art of War will experience it anew, finding it more fascinating - and more chilling - than ever.

Uniform Title: Sunzi bing fa. English
Publisher: New York : Penguin, 2003.
Edition: Deluxe ed.
ISBN: 9780143105756
9780670031566
0670031569
9780140439199
0140439196
Branch Call Number: 355.02
Characteristics: lvi, 325 p. ; 22 cm.
Additional Contributors: Minford, John

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gomiami1972
Jul 20, 2018

It gets 3 1/2 stars for two main reasons. First, I accept that some information is lost in translation but this is not a translation but a transliteration, which makes it even more dubious that I am getting the author's words and meanings rather than the translator's. This is the third version I have read and all three WIDELY differ. All of them contain stunning material but are these the thoughts of a Chinese general 2,500 years ago or the thoughts of a 20th century individual? Even native Chinese speakers can't agree on the meaning of certain characters.

Second, the text is obviously corrupt in many ways. Whole sections appear to be missing and, in a few chapters, other Chinese authors (albeit Chinese authors from antiquity) have inserted material. This is not surprising given the age of the text so this is not a criticism...it simply is a fact.

Overall, despite these limitations, The Art of War is a tremendous read, more for what it does not say rather than what it spells out, giving the reader head space to draw our own conclusions. Such a shame that the full, original text is not extant.

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MrGouda
Jun 27, 2018

This is basically a book with various proverbs from Sun Tzu with annotations from various sages and ancient generals. There are some very good nuggets of information sprinkled throughout. Don't go into this book thinking that this is a comprehensive guide to warfare, as it tends to focus on not just the practical aspects of war but also the psychology and philosophical ideology.

I have to admit, the book could have used some better organization like in the chapter of types of terrain they still bring up topics about negotiation and disciplining troops. Not the most organized book as it tends to wander off topic at times. But even when it does, there are still some useful information to be had.

Overall, there are some genuinely useful information spread throughout which can be applied to various applications in life. Depending on how you view things, some proverbs will be far more useful than others. Either way, I still found lots of thought provoking proverbs about philosophy and warfare.

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blurpblurp
Mar 21, 2017

Berniebrunet:
Did what you said, looked up the quotes online, got the lay of the land. Best piece of advice in a long time. No need to waste one more minute on that.

Cheers.

b
berniebrunet
Jan 02, 2017

The Art of War is a book of quotes organized in several arbitrary chapters. That's it.
There is no story here, no semblance of a plot, not even explicit advice, unless you are interested in 12th century army logistics.

As the author states in the long winded (38 pages) introduction, many quotes are purposely ambiguous, which reflects the uncertainty of life and the fact that leaders need to be adroit politicians. However, many are just paraphrases of others or are different shades of grey. Many are included in multiple chapters. And many should be in the trash bin of history. “ If there are birds on a citadel, then the army has fled.” Is this advice on an invasion? Investment guidance? Too many like this inhabit the book.

So who would benefit from this book? The demand for Sung Dynasty military strategic advice has certainly fallen off. The general reader would find this a tedious slog with few rewards. But if you are in the military or feel that your life and/or career has been one long battle (My sympathies), then possibly.

The hoary “Business is War” axiom will induce many an MBA to seek out this tomb. Don't waste your time. Instead, google “Quotes from The Art of War” and paste one or two on your screen background. Then find out your immediate supervisor's favorite quote from it (He hasn't read it either.) and in an appropriate moment, look thoughtful and regurgitate it. As Cao Cao said : “This means true information is not leaked. ”

LoganLib_Beenleigh Jun 28, 2016

Great book. Highly recommended

AbigailCurious Jul 28, 2015

It's a bible on war, and it reads like one.

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bsmith60653
Aug 12, 2014

Perfect

MANNYROJAS Aug 29, 2012

BE A WIINER WITHOUT FIGHT ,SAVING A LOT OF ENERGY AND RESOURCES

l
lightbytheway
Dec 08, 2010

A great chinese classic. Despite the title it contains deep wisdom. This book in my opinion it is a must read.

2
21288004285819
Oct 08, 2010

Was highly recommended to me by training instructor - as a book on how to be politically savvy.

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gomiami1972
Jul 18, 2018

gomiami1972 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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