- Paperback: 112 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics (29 May 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140455523
- ISBN-13: 978-0140455526
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.6 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Art of War (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 29 May 2008
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"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) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Little is known for definite about Sun Tzu [544-496 B.C.] and his life during the Warring States period after the decline of the Zhou dynasty, but his classic The Art of War has been one of the central works of Chinese literature for 2500 years.
John Minford has translated many books from Chinese, including Cao Xueqin's The Story of the Stone, and was co-editor of Seeds of Fire: Chinese Voices of Conscience and Chinese Classical Literature: An Anthology of Translations.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Anyone that thinks this book isn't relevant for modern warfare or business should read a different translation. What is written here can be applied to all aspects of your life. If you want to lose weight, your hunger is your opponent. If you want to sell something, the customer is your opponent. Sun Tzu said, "..attack that which he is obliged to rescue.." which translates to "buy this software and your children will be safe online" or "buy this and you will get thinner".
The notes expand on the text and provide a nice historical element to the book, as a lover of history I found this great, learning about many of the methods, army's and leaders of ancient china. Although the Art of War is primarily suited to pre-modern era (ancient world, medieval world etc) it still has relevant lessons to modern strategy, such as the important of supplies, of terrain and combat.
This is a wonderful read for those interested in military strategy or for the historical elements of this ancient Chinese text.
I have read the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu many times and actually the Art of War is a good accompaniment to it, and even by itself it is relevant to modern life and very interesting indeed.
This version is split into the following chapters: Making of Plans, Waging of War, Strategic Offensive, Forms and Dispositions, Potential Energy, Empty and Full, The Fray, The Nine Changes, On The March, Forms of Terrain, The Nine Kinds of Ground, Attack by Fire, Espionage.
I can imagine it being especially relevant to those in positions of seniority; indeed my husband was quick to snatch it off me when I had finished it and said that he has picked up some very useful strategies from it.
However, it is not just for the workplace (or the battlefield!) and can be used for overcoming adversity in any form. Although superficially it seems only relevant to warfare and overcoming your opponent, it is actually quite spiritual and there is a strong emphasis on self-mastery and discipline:
"He confronts chaos with discipline;
He treats tumult with calm.
This is mastery of Mind."
Even if you are not trying to improve yourself, it is just an engaging read! Highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Simple to read but a great book. Deep and we will all take away what we want toPublished 13 days ago by John Harrison
I got this to prepare an act of war against my work and all I got was a book of poetry!i enjoyed it thought and instead of waging war against my crappy bosses i just deicided it... Read morePublished 1 month ago by gareth bruce
Small, practical and put together very nicely. Easy to read wherever you are and look good on a shelf.Published 2 months ago by Hana
A superb work on strategy. Most readers will get through this book without realising the strategies within are being used against them right now by their own governments. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Thanks for this lovely book which I have now passed on to a friend. xPublished 7 months ago by MISS A HARROW