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The Art of War (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 29 May 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Product details

  • 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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,460 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)

"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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

By Martin Turner HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Feb. 2004
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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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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Format: Paperback
This is a great translation of The Art of War but I would strongly recommend reading the Lionel Giles translation first or at least doing a search for the text file online as a backup (it's way out of copyright). It's not that this version is too tricky, it's just that it's a direct translation that tries to maintain the rhythm of the original. Lionel Giles' translation is a more "meat and potatoes" version.

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".
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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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