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4.3 out of 5 stars390
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 14 December 2010
I had been meaning to read Sun Tzu's Art of War for some time, seeing loose quotes from it appear in various places (mostly the Total War games).
When I started looking around to get the book, i was confronted with litteraly dozens of versions of the text reaching from plain text translations to "self-help motivational" versions that have barely anything to do with the original text.

Based on reader's feedback here and across the internet I learned that this version of the text was exactly what i was looking for: a good translation of the original text (better than Giles' translation I'm told), but also a historical background of the work, comments from Chinese commentators and generals and footnotes by the translator himself. A lot more information that helps you better understand the whole thing, much more than a simple print out of the text would.

Besides the textual content, this is also a beautiful hardcover book with great illustrations of Chinese art or objects throughout.

All in all this seemed like a much more complete book than the ones that are on top in the Amazon charts.
If you are looking for a version of Sun Tzu's famous book, "The Art of War: The New Illustrated Edition of the Classic Text" is definitely recommended. It costs a bit more than the paperbacks topping the military science charts on this site, but it is worth it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 21 February 2006
I do not recall the first time I read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War but it must have been at least 35 years ago. Frankly, during that first reading, I saw no relevance of any of his various strategies to the business world. Nor did I have any interest whatsoever in a military career. What fascinated me then were Sun Tzu insights concerning the importance of deception: when small, seem great...and vice versa; when far away, seem near...and vice versa; when exhausted, seem robust...and vice versa. Etc. Of course, I failed to realize at that time that the Viet Cong, for example, effectively used many of the same strategies based on deception to defeat superior French and then US forces in what was then Indo-China. In fact, throughout preceding military history, there are countless other examples of warfare during which numerically inferior forces prevailed by exploiting advantages created by stealth, speed, hit-and-run attacks, etc.
What we have in this volume is Samuel B. Griffith’s superb translation of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, accompanied by elegant illustrations and supplemented by informative background material which includes biographies of Sun Tzu (in Griffith’s preface) and various commentators (in Appendix II). Also, and equally important, background information which establishes a frame-of-reference within which to gain a better understanding of the age during which Sun Tzu lived. I also appreciate the reader-friendly lay-out which juxtaposes primary text with pleasing illustrations and complementary sources.
As I recently read The Illustrated Art of War, I was again reminded of statistics which Michael Gerber provides in E-Myth Mastery: "Of the 1 million U.S. small businesses started this year [2005], more than 80% of them will be out of business within 5 years and 96% will have closed their doors before their 10th birthday." These are indeed chilling statistics. I wonder how many small companies which fail could have survived, if not prospered, had their owners/CEOs read and then effectively applied the strategies which Sun Tzu recommends.
Most (if not all) of those strategies are also relevant to much larger organizations. Consider what Jack Welch once said during one of GE’s annual meetings when explaining why he admires small companies: "For one, they communicate better. Without the din and prattle of bureaucracy, people listen as well as talk; and since there are fewer of them they generally know and understand each other. Second, small companies move faster. They know the penalties for hesitation in the marketplace. Third, in small companies, with fewer layers and less camouflage, the leaders show up very clearly on the screen. Their performance and its impact are clear to everyone. And, finally, smaller companies waste less. They spend less time in endless reviews and approvals and politics and paper drills. They have fewer people; therefore they can only do the important things. Their people are free to direct their energy and attention toward the marketplace rather than fighting bureaucracy." Of course, there are other editions of The Art of War (including one also featuring the Griffith translation) but I prefer this one for reasons previously indicated.
In recent years, there has been a number of excellent books which also examine many of the same strategies within a business context, notably Paul Flowers’ Underdog Advertising, Jason Jennings’ Less Is More and Think Big, Act Small as well as Robert Tomasko's Bigger Isn't Always Better: The New Mindset for Real Business Growth, Bo Burlingham’s Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, Gerald Michaelson’s Sun Tzu: The Art of War For Managers, and Mark McNeilly’s Sun Tzu and the Art of Business.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2002
The art of war by Sun Tzu really is a book of excellence. This book forewarded by B.H. Liddell Hart really helps you to unterstand the chapters written by Sun Tzu, the well structured introduction gives examples of the chapters in action. Also, the comments of other legends given in the chapters are helpful, in that it gives a deep understanding of the words of Sun Tzu. The book is inspiring, the wise words of Sun Tzu implies to everyday situations, in that it enforces logical thinking of methods of solving everyday problems. This book is definatly one for purchase, to sharpen up your mind, or "sharpen your blades" as Sun Tzu states.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2010
This book is shorter than I thought, but the wisdom and food for thought in it is stunning. It is not very easy to translate this in our current life, but this is a book that you pick up over and over again to read parts of it. And doing that gives new thoughts, ideas and ways to turn this into daily practice.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 18 May 2011
There are countless interpretations of Sun Tzu's classic treatise The Art of War. I've read several of these ranging from weighty scholarly treatments to lighter volumes of easier to digest materials. Of all of these, however, I chose this version as my favorite. Clavell has made Sun Tzu's message succinct and meaningful to anyone who might pick up this book. Lessons are applicable in the board room, on the golf course, and anywhere real-life rears its head. This work is usable by anyone in almost any strata of world society.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 1 May 1997
I agree with fellow reviewers that this is a
classic for any situation or need... However,
given Cleary's history of mistranslations (such
as The Book of the Five Rings) I believe that
a translation from a modern author of Chinese origin (maybe even another westerner- but I doubt it) who is fluent in both English and Chinese would fare better with readers. (I've seen one - unfortunately I forgot the author's name)
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
I'm sampling all the Kindle versions of the Art of War to pick a readable translation.
Like buses that all seem to come at once, this is YET ANOTHER version of the Lionel Giles' 1910 version without the rather heavy original footnotes or the mildly useful Giles introduction. It's actually in quite readable English for the date, and seems reasonably understandable in the 21st century. I've no idea on the accuracy of the translation.

Opening line from other Giles versions: "Sun Tzu said: the art of war is of vital importance to the State.
It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected."

Prices vary considerably but the words stay the same.

Update: after clattering through all the Kindle samples, this is the one I chose, because it's the cheapest, AND I can always read the original introduction by getting a sample download from another version. Simples!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 11 June 2011
I don't regret buying this book but the person who copied the "public domain" translation from the Internet and added a copyrighted cover could have at least proof read it and corrected the typos if not the poor grammar.

Tempted to use the same text, correct it and add commentary and my own copyrighted cover.
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54 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on 7 May 2010
"The Art of War" is a classic. Sun Tzu was a master. This particular translation is frustratingly poor. It is nothing more than a public domain translation of Sun Tzu's writings. Many of the translations are awkward and riddled with typos and English grammatical errors. It reads as if it were translated by a Chinese university student with a good, but not perfect, command of the English language. There are no footnotes to explain the occassional untranslatable bits and there is no attempt whatsoever to put the work into its proper historical and cultural perspective. Not even a forward or introduction by a second rate scholar. I believe the publishing company just pulled a free translation off of the web without even bothering to proof read it, made a simple cover (for which they did file a copywrite), and proceeded to sell it on Very dissapointing.
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68 of 76 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 4 June 2008
I was expecting a huge tome full of Confuscian statements which are allegorical to warfare. What I received was a 69-page book of short instructions which are dirrectly about warfare, but in many cases allegorical to life.

Possibly they're all in some way applicable to the day-to-day, the fighting with fire section does seem a bit specialised, but doubtless the scales will fall from my eyes at some stage and I will be able to use its teachings in buying tangerines from waitrose.

The best thing about the book is the ability to spice up conversation. Never again will I use a hackneyed marketing phrase where something from Sun Tzu will work. Brilliant.
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