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Those who have read one of the volumes that comprise Tom Butler-Bowdon's "50 Classics" series already know that he possesses superior reasoning and writing skills as well as a relentless curiosity when conducting research on history's greatest thinkers and their major works. For these and other reasons, I cannot think of another person better qualified to provide the introductions to the volumes that comprise a new series, "Capstone Classics."

Unlike so many others, he provides more, much more than a flimsy "briefing" to the given work. For this volume, he poses and then responds to key questions such as these in order to create a context, a frame-of-reference, for Sun Tzu's insights:

o What exactly can the modern reader get from a manual for waging war that is probably about 2,500 years old?
o What Are the book's "spiritual underpinnings" in addition to its practical advice about planning and waging war?
o What was the historical context, the frame-of-reference, in which Sun Tzu lived and worked?
o To what extent does his classic, The Art of War, reflect that period?
o According to Sun Tzu, what are the meaning and significance of each of the "five indispensable matters" that inform (or at least should inform) a leader's decisions, including the one to do nothing, at least for now?
o According to Sun Tzu, what are the various degrees of successful warfare, with the most valued being able to "subdue the enemy without a fight," closely followed by "taking whole" the enemy's forces and other resources?
o What are the "five occasions when victory can be foretold"?

As indicated earlier, Tom Butler-Bowdon's purpose in this Introduction is to create a context, a frame-of-reference, for Sun Tzu's insights. He does so brilliantly in this instance and in each of the volumes in the "Capstone Classics series that have been published thus far.
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on 28 April 2013
There is so much you can learn from this. Although primarily referenced to war, the way in which it's written is on philosophical terms rather than direct mechanisms, which make it applicable to many things in life.
In terms of the book itself by the author, apart from the introduction, it only comments on small things which may be confusing to the modern reader. The blue and down shown on the cover is only really a strap, which if you take off makes it just a black book with barely noticeable title. However this is what I love about this particular book. Everything is just so simple, and when searching for the right book to buy, my ideal choice was one where I could read through and attempt to understand with my own thoughts rather than have so many commentaries and notes covering each page, so this fits the bill for me.
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VINE VOICEon 8 May 2010
I was drawn to this book by the promise of an introduction by Tom Butler-Bowdon. He's the author of a series of books which summarise and contextualise self improvement literature. Indeed, he has already discussed The Art of War in his second book 50 Success Classics: Winning Wisdom For Work & Life From 50 Landmark Books. Thankfully there is more to say on this subject.

Butler-Bowdon commentaries are always clear and concise. Indeed some people will find they don't need to read Sun Tzu's words once they have read the introduction. As the text of The Art of War is rather short, this book also contains The Sayings of Wu Tzu, a warrior who lived at the same time as Sun Tzu. This section gets a separate Butler-Bowdon introduction.

My favourite piece of advice from the introduction is that we should let The Art of War seep into our consciousness over several readings. This is not a book to read if you are looking for practical solutions to your problems. Even if you were in a combat situation I'm not sure how much use this book would be. Much of what Sun Tzu says is either common sense, or irrelevant to someone living in the modern world.

On the other hand The Art of War may prove useful if you use it as an inspiration for your own thinking. The layout of this book is calming and restful and the words themselves carefully considered. If you know that the answers to your dilemmas lie within you, this book may help you find them. Try reading some of Sun Tzu's words, then spend time mediating on them. See if they can cast light on your situation.

Equally, it is hard to disagree with Sun Tzu when he says that to be successful we should develop an ethic of constant refinement and improvement. If this is your goal then I would recommend Tom Butler-Bowdon's other books 50 Self-help Classics: 50 Inspirational Books to Transform Your Life from Timeless Sages to Contemporary Gurus,50 Success Classics: Winning Wisdom For Work & Life From 50 Landmark Books,50 Spiritual Classics: Timeless Wisdom From 50 Great Books of Inner Discovery, Enlightenment and Purpose,50 Psychology Classics: Who We Are, How We Think, What We Do, and 50 Prosperity Classics: Attract It, Create It, Manage It, Share It. These books are excellent signposts on your road to self improvement.

The design of The Art of War is modern and stylish, making it ideal as a present or as a book you might want to treasure yourself. It offers no easy answers, but it might provide you with a fresh way of thinking that leads to revelations of your own devising.
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on 7 May 2014
Actually quite neat book. I'm in the armed services my self as a squadleader, but a soon to be platooncommander. I can deffinitly see some of these tricks being applied in real-life situations, both on and off the battlefield.
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on 27 November 2013
I have the edition published by Capstone with an introduction by Tom Butler-Bowdon.

The Art of War is relatively short for a 219 page book. It takes up a mere 95 pages. The rest of this edition consists of a lengthy foreword by Tom Butler-Bowdon and "The Sayings of Wu Tzu" which simply pad out what would otherwise have been a short, but enjoyable little book. Butler-Bowdon did go to some trouble to include footnotes at various points in the translation but these are inconsistently applied and the overall translation makes for an awkward piece of reading.

Physically, the book is of average quality. It is a hardback of decent size but the pages are slightly rough to the touch (an indicator of low quality) and will probably turn yellow in a few short years. Also the sections are glued, not sewn, which means the book can't be laid flat and over a period of years the acid from the low quality paper may begin to cause the pages to fall out.

I would seek out a better edition.
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on 18 February 2014
Sun Tzu is often heralded as the master of strategy, and it's easy to see why when reading "The Art of War". Although many of Tzu's statements seem simple and obvious at the time of reading, the message behind is more profound and one realises, that he has actually just put word into some feeling that you've felt but haven't been able to express. Amazing insight, and a must read for everyone wanting to take control of one's life - whether it is business or personal.
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on 27 March 2013
A genuinely great read, very insightful and still very relevant not only to warfare but to living your life. I have always felt that life, living with other people on this Earth plane was like a battle. Master Tzu recognizes that 2,500 years and sort to simplify it. Great read; love it; know it.
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on 4 February 2012
great book, surely a must read quality of the book itself is great the disign is very sleak and stylish. but the implications of this book is astonishing and how it can still be used in day to day life :) thank seller
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on 14 February 2014
I am reading it over and over again! Sun Tzu is one of my favourite books in the entire planet. I would recommend anyone who wants to be in the business world to get one! Fast delivery!
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on 17 February 2014
I had heard from others the value of this book therefore, with my curiosity aroused I sent for it. What a revelation! I now use it as a mantra on how to live.
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