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The Art of War (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Tzu Sun
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
Price: £12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

26 Aug 2003 Penguin Classics
For more than two thousand years, Sun-tzu's The Art of War has provided leaders with essential advice on battlefield tactics and management strategies. 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, eminent scholar John Minford brings this seminal work to life for today's readers. Capturing the literary quality of the work, Minford presents the core text in two formats: first, the unadorned ancient words of wisdom ascribed to Sun-tzu; then, the same text with extensive running commentary from the canon of traditional Chinese commentators. A lively, learned introduction and other valuable apparatus round out this authoritative volume.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (26 Aug 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140439196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140439199
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 243,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"The strategic advice that [The Art of War] offers concerns much more than the conduct of war. It is an ancient book of proverbial wisdom, a book of life." (John Minford, from the Introduction)

About the Author

Sun Tzu was the author of The Art of War, an immensely influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy (for the most part not dealing directly with tactics). He is also one of the earliest realists in international relations theory.

John Minford has translated many works from the Chinese, including two volumes of the Penguin Classics edition of Cao Xueqin's eighteenth-century novel The Story of the Stone. He is co-editor of the landmark anthology of translations Classical Chinese Literature.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Master Sun's short treatise The Art of War is both inspirational and worrying. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The art of War 4 Feb 2004
Format:Paperback
"Ultimate excellence lies, not in winning every battle But in defeating the enemy without ever fighting"
This book by John Minford gives a concise and informative look at Master Wu's "Art of War" using the standard and accepted translation. It is not just a book about war but is a guide to life and this version gives explanations of the text from selected experts but firstly gives you the raw treatise allowing you to make up your own mind of the meaning. It is extremely informative without getting boring and gives you brief histories and background information integral to the treatise. Don't be put off at the thought of having to read difficult chinese names or words as a quick guide to correct pronunciation is included and will help in reading and understanding the informative introduction and histories. This book makes what may seem a daunting subject to some, a very easy to understand and enjoyable book.
This book will be of interest to both those looking for information on Chinese history but mainly to those looking for a guide to life. I, myself am not a historian and hated History lessons at school but the History subject matter in this book is interesting without over examination and doesn't have lengthy and irrelevant text. I'm also not much of a reader (more of a PS2 man) but found the book to be intriguing and hard to put down.
Interesting subject matter simply put, concisely explained with commentary from the leading experts and published by quality publishers Penguin. 2000 year old wisdom that is pertinent in modern life.
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94 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic work of strategy, often misapplied 11 Feb 2004
By Martin Turner HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
The Art of War is one of the foundational works of strategic thinking. Essentially it is a treatise on the principles of warfare based on ancient Chinese military history.
The growth in academic and business study of strategy has given this book hugely increased popularity over the last twenty years. However, strategic principles are often extracted and applied haphazardly, based on what the reader was looking for.
It is important to keep this book in its context. Some of the principles - such as 'to win without fighting is the highest achievement' are obviously of general applicability. Others, such as 'when plumes of dust are seen, chariots are approaching' are clearly of little relevance to modern business. However, when faced with 'in a forced march of 100 li the commander will fall', you may decide that there is a useful application or you may not.
Likewise, you may find it entertaining to quote Sun Tzu to your colleagues, and it may give a flavour of authority to your strategy proposals. If you do so, though, you ought to recognise that your application is your own interpretation, not something intrinsic to the text.
If you are reading this book because you want to learn about Chinese military history, or because you want to understand the way early strategists thought, I believe you will find it enjoyable and rewarding.
On the other hand, if you are using this book as a way of developing your own strategic skills, I would recommend that you read it in conjunction with Mintzberg, Ahlstrand and Lampel's 'Strategy Safari', and particularly note the critique of the Positioning school of strategy. The dangers are all too great of finding in Sun Tzu echoes of ideas that you already hold, and then imagining that these are supported by ancient authority.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All warfare is based on deception 29 Dec 2005
By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
For Sun Tzu, warfare is above all a question of psychology, before strategy and tactics come into play.
The art of war is the art to deceive: 'Apparent confusion is a product of good order; apparent cowardice, of courage; apparent weakness, of strength'.
Sun Tzu is a master of psychological warfare: sap the morale of your enemy and be cleverer (wisdom, not force alone).
For him, 'supreme excellence is to subdue the enemy without fighting.'
His strategy is based on foreknowledge (spying) in order to know the strength and weaknesses (political, geographical, defensive, offensive) of your enemy. And if you are not strong enough, you should be cleverer through diplomacy.
His tactics are flexibility, gaining the initiative and not fighting a protracted war.
This text is rightly a classic. People who launch 'preventive wars' should follow a few of Sun Tzu's recommendations.
On the other hand, it tells a lot about mankind that one of the first classics of literature doesn't have the title 'The Art of Peace'.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting if a little generic 9 April 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This text about battles is worth reading for anyone who comes into any form of conflict. Much of the text is still directly relevant ("to defeat your enemy without fighting is the highest excellence") and some of it is, on the face of it, much less so (like the section about determining whether chariots or foot soldiers are approaching). Even the less obviously useful passages can impart a degree of insight if they are considered carefully (think in terms of looking ahead to see what is coming, be it a political wrangle at work or the literal horse-drawn chariots).
It's also a useful text to quote when uttering surreal-sounding quips in meetings at work. I'm glad this is on my shelf.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art of War 23 Jan 2011
By CAC
Format:Paperback
Very interesting book, can hardly believe something written so long ago can still have a relevant place in life in the 21st Century. Wonderful, wise words of wisdom. Worth purchasing not only for the poetic style but for the amazing learning. Especially helpful in putting one's mind straight when in a conflict with everyday living, like neighbours etc. This book is a gem - really putting conflict into perspective and advising one how to change one's view.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic
Well worth reading, even if you don't plan on making war in an artful way :) Seriously, this is a classic and it's not a huge read.
Published 10 days ago by Wai
4.0 out of 5 stars A Strategists Dream
Intriguingly simple yet surprisingly detailed. Not quite The Prince but direct all the same! The additional commentary is a nice adjunct.
Published 19 days ago by Mr D
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
this book was a very good read,i,m not a big reader but i thoroughly enjoyed this .i would reccomend this book
Published 1 month ago by DAVID STEAD
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece
Brilliant when it was first written and still a masterpiece. Why not study Sun Tzu in schools, for older teenagers, but then I would be pro bringing back Philosophy generally in... Read more
Published 3 months ago by K. J. Stone
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect edition of the Art of War.
This edition (or at least the book I received) is the finest version of the Art of War I have read. The physical book quality is great, the pages have a rough edge to them giving... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Daniel Sharkey
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic
A classic book, nicely translated and in a good size in this paperback edition. A must for any book collection, or a must for those moments where you need calm, wise words for... Read more
Published 8 months ago by RobM
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Viewpoint?
War is a terrible dilema. The book I think looses a lot in translation, however the stanzas briefly outline a lot of common sense about a tragic affair. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Scarlet
5.0 out of 5 stars review
enjoyed the book was a great help to me and i would reccomendit to a firend. the book was also in good condition.
Published 13 months ago by Peter Philpott
5.0 out of 5 stars A present for my Grandson
I couldn't possibly part with my own copy, so I had to buy another for my grandson.We enjoy lengthy discussions on strategy.
Published 16 months ago by anna
1.0 out of 5 stars Avery poor offering
Anyone wanting to know and understand the guidance offered by 'The Art of War' would do better purchasing a book that offers background explanations and some contextual... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mr. M. Boase
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