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The Book of Five Rings (Flamingo) Paperback – 16 Feb 1984

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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; New edition edition (16 Feb. 1984)
  • ISBN-10: 0006540317
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006540311
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 291,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Terry Tozer on 1 July 2007
The Book of Five Rings (Go Rin No Sho) is a GREAT book, if you take time to properly absorb and understand ALL of its teachings. It's not a very long book and so would be easy to read a few times over so that you get a proper flavour of the important message being presented.

A better and easier to digest version (IMHO) of this small book is "Samurai Strategies: 42 Martial Secrets" by by Boye De Lafayette Mente, who very cleverly summarises this book into 42 easy to digest and understand and apply chapters.

The ideas in this book are NOT dangerous to anyone in the least, IF you balance and apply ALL of the lessons within it - that's the idea that the great undefeated warrior Musashi was trying to put across. The life saving principles he expounds here are designed to help us all have a better, easier and more fulfilled life, Martial Artist or not. His strategies can be applied and used by anyone.

"A knife is dangerous for anyone - you just have to learn how to use is safely & intelligently"

We are all so lucky & truly blessed that, nearly 400 years ago, someone called Lord Hosokawa had the foresight to ask the ageing Musashi to write down his secrets of success. Musashi himself was not only extremely talented but must have been a very intelligent man for his time to write such a treatise.

The comment (else ware) about this book not being for beginners is misleading I think, it isn't that hard to understand and extrapolate the true meaning and intentions that Musashi was trying to put across.

Don't be put off by ANY of the negative criticisms (in other reviews), it's only because they've missed the point or just quickly scanned & glossed over the book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 447 reviews
94 of 99 people found the following review helpful
Bonus Material Not Found in Other Translations 29 Feb. 2004
By Swing King - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This classic text deals with the delicate art of leadership, and was composed originally in 1643 by the famous samurai Miyamoto Musashi. But this book isn't just for those involved in the martial arts, as the previous reviewer suggests, no far from it; it's for anyone who wants to enjoy the neverending wisdom contained within this text. Thomas Cleary's translation of Miyamoto's masterpiece is comprehensible, with an introduction that presents us readers with the spiritual backdrop of the warrior tradition that is vital for the rest that proceeds. This most up-to-date edition also embraces one more important Japanese text - "The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War" by Yagyu Munenori; here the book highlights insights of Zen and Taoism as they pertain to the way and life of the warrior. Enjoy the book! Cleary is a terrific translator.
86 of 93 people found the following review helpful
The Book of Five Rings 24 Oct. 2009
By A. L. Boyle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The book appears at first to be written simply; it stated the obvious. Written at a time when perhaps things were simpler.

This is NOT a book to read in one sitting, though you easily could.

Read just a bit, then put it down and walk away. Allow what you have read to be mulled over in your mind.

The book is really complex. It contains secrets to living every day, for dealing with everyone you encounter no matter what their state of mind is. It contains secrets about how to do business.

The title is a translation. Like English, words can have multiple meanings. What is translated into the word "ring" can also be translated into "spheres" which I think is a more appropriate translation. The sphere is the most perfect thing in the universe. Beginning at a point and drawing the ring/sphere/circle you will get to a point where the line begins again upon itself. This is a key to understanding the book.

Cleverly written, it holds the knowledge to live at peace with the universe.

An excellent read and mental workout.
97 of 109 people found the following review helpful
Have sword, will fight 11 Jan. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Everybody should read this book. That's all there is to it. Musashi takes the reader into a world filled to the brim with devotion, self-respect, disciplin, honesty and purity of thought. Even though this book was written by and for warriors and samurai, and in a completely different time and culture, it is a remarkabe source of inspiration for selv-developement. Musashi's teachings are concise and to the point. He uses phrases like "you must understand this" and "you must practice diligently" and explains only general, but unquestionable and fundamental, concepts of the Way of the Warrior. These guidelines are not directly applicable in our time and age, but what is applicable are the things this book contains about working with yourself. Striving to achieve improvement on the inside as well as the outside.
It would be a lie to say that this book is a "positive" book. Taken litterally it's about how to become an efficient, albeit enlightened, killer. The value of this book comes from reading between the lines, and let me tell you: Those lines could fill volumes.
52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Places Musashi in an Historical Context 15 Feb. 2003
By C. J. Hardman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
What I prefer about Victor Harris's translation of Musashi Miyamoto's book is the fact that Harris has gone through exacting lengths not just to present an accurate translation in the context of a 17th-century samurai, but to present Musashi in his proper historical context. As opposed to every other English translation I have read, this one includes a chapter which gives a biography of Musashi, and shows many of his creations, such as paintings (including a self-portrait), tsuba (swordguards), etc. We can see where Musashi stayed, and what his grave looks like, etc. For clarity in understanding, this volume, along with the translation by Thomas Cleary, are the best. I should justify that by explaining that I practice martial arts--for those of you looking for a business oriented edition, there are several translations and interpretations out there which are geared towards your needs. For those of you involved in the practice of martial arts, sports, or with an interest in historical strategy texts, I heartily recommend this translation!
Whay does this book discuss? Musashi's masterpiece eschews practice, and decries vanity, ego, and "secrets". Musashi was a practitioner of Zen Buddhism, and the influence of Zen philosophy can be seen everywhere in his writing. This is however, definately a book on the strategy of swordsmanship, and not a treatis on religion. Musashi Miyamoto fought in a number of duels--back in the era of true challenge matches--when usually the victor was the man left living! The realities of his times, the fact that life was so cheap and had to be guarded fiercly, and that Musashi succeeded in doing this is what makes his writing even more precious. This was the book Musashi passed on to the students of his school, the unusual two-bladed Ni-to Ryu (two-sword school). For more on the historical Musashi Miyamoto, read Makoto Sugawara's excellent (non-fiction) "Lives of Master Swordsmen".
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Musashi in an Historical Context & Best Translation 15 Feb. 2003
By C. J. Hardman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
What I prefer about Victor Harris's translation of Musashi Miyamoto's book "Go Rin no Sho" is the fact that Harris has gone through exacting lengths not just to present an accurate translation in the context of a 17th-century samurai, but to present Musashi to us in his proper historical context. As opposed to every other English translation I have read, this one includes an in-depth biography of Musashi prior to the translation, and shows many of his creations, such as paintings (including a self-portrait), tsuba (swordguards), etc. We can see where Musashi lived and practiced, what his grave looks like, etc. For clarity and understanding, this volume, along with the translation by Thomas Cleary, are the best. I should justify that by explaining that I practice martial arts--for those of you looking for a business oriented edition, there are several translations and interpretations out there which are geared towards your needs. For those of you involved in the practice of martial arts, sports, or with an interest in historical strategy texts, I heartily recommend this translation!
Whay does this book discuss? Musashi's masterpiece eschews practice, and decries vanity, ego, and "secrets". Musashi was a practitioner of Zen Buddhism, and the influence of Zen philosophy can be seen everywhere in his writing. This is however, definately a book on the strategy of swordsmanship, and not a treatis on religion. Musashi Miyamoto fought in a number of duels--back in the era of true challenge matches--when usually the victor was the man left living! The realities of his times, the fact that life was so cheap and had to be guarded fiercly, and that Musashi succeeded in doing this is what makes his writing even more precious. This was the book Musashi passed on to the students of his school, the unusual two-bladed Ni-to Ryu (two-sword school). For more on the historical Musashi Miyamoto, read Makoto Sugawara's excellent (non-fiction) "Lives of Master Swordsmen".
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