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HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 1 September 2015
I downloaded this whilst it was on promo, as I already have a paperback edition, but it is nice to have an e-version for when I am travelling. There is an active table of contents here so that you can go to any major section nice and easily, although at least for your first read of this you should take the whole book in as it is written. As I have grown older, and hopefully wiser I have become very attached to three particular books, all of which can help you cope and get ahead in the world. Obviously this is one of those books, the others being Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, and Machiavelli’s The Prince. These three books together will give you a great grounding in how to manage people, situations, businesses, and even court cases (for those lawyers out there) as well as politics.

Musashi was a legendary swordsman and over the centuries the myths that have built up around him have clouded what is real and known about the man, indeed even in his own lifetime the myths started to come thick and fast. That he was a fantastic swordsman is indisputable and if you are taking up any type of fencing, whether European or something like Kendo this is a must read.

We are taught such things like fluidity and knowing your opponent, as well as staying glued to them, or one step ahead. Also you are reminded of such things as morale and being aware of what is around you, as well as being in the moment, which if you know about Zen you will already know, but for others it is like when a sportsman says he is in the Zone. Musashi taught the writings in this book to his students and one of the things that this book tells us is that it is all well and good reading but you have to go out and practice the concepts to be able to apply them in your everyday life.

This is in all a short book, a classic from the 17th Century, and one that is just as relevant today as when it was first written. Always worth reading this is something that will take many years, even a lifetime to master, but even knowing what is written here will help at certain moments in your life. There are a couple of typos in this edition, but nothing too drastic and it shouldn’t really distract you from what is written here.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 12 December 2011
William Scott Wilson's translation of Miyamoto Musashi's 17th-century classic work of personal philosophy is in every way excellent, and captures the spirit as well as the meaning of the text to perfection. This small (not quite pocket-size but close) hardcover edition is also a very pleasing artefact and a quality piece of work.

Musashi's work focuses on practicing the `martial arts' - particularly swordsmanship - not from the perspective of learning technique but from internal spiritual development; the ascendancy of `mind' to which all technique must ultimately become subservient.

The `five rings' are in fact five chapters themed:

1. Earth (the South)

2. Water (the East)

3. Fire (the West)

4. Wind (the North)

5. Emptiness (the Center: all action and response is most effective when preceded by emptiness - i.e. no internal noise, no preconceptions; "this must be learned")

Each themed chapter incorporates short paragraphs explaining a specific aspect of how to win a contest or fight. For example, in the `Fire' ring, on `Imposing Fear:'

"...the heart of fear is in the unexpected...you do not frighten your opponents with what is right before their eyes. People may be frightened by voices...or by making the small seem large...something coming suddenly from the side also induces fear. You can frighten an opponent with your body, with your sword or with your voice. It is essential to do this suddenly, when your opponent is not expecting it. Take advantage of his fear and gain the victory immediately."

Musashi was allegedly self-taught, and learned everything through his own experience, introspection and native intelligence. The `Book of Five Rings' is not meant to be some kind of bible, but continuously exhorts the reader to "investigate this thoroughly" and do his own work, taking Musashi's guidelines as a starting point to guard against fatal errors.

The power of Musashi's work is in its conciseness and its completeness. He is reported to have written this text in his final two years, around age 60, to summarise and condense the essence of a lifetime of success in the martial arts. It was considered vital in that age for a respected Samurai to be not just an accomplished fighter but a poet, artist, ceramicist and philosopher; learned and accomplished in many things. The book contains some of Musashi's best-known sketches and artworks, including one of his self-portraits and the very famous, powerfully minimalist 'Shrike on a withered branch'.

Overall, if you want a good translation of this timeless classic, this edition can be unconditionally recommended as a fine choice.
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on 19 January 2018
Short and concise, nice to have a manual translated into English on this subject, bit confused by the football player reference it contains though
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on 7 April 2018
I am reviewing only the cover and presentation of the book which I was less than impressed with. The picture you see on the front cover has been zoomed in to an extent that is a pixelated mess and looks awful. The book itself looks like someone printed off the original text onto A4 paper and simply stapled them together. If you want a decent looking book do not buy this version.
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on 21 January 2018
Another gift for a Scottish Samurai who
can apply the knowledge of one of the Greatest Samurai Miyamoto Musashi
to his business world !
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on 22 January 2018
Arrived on time and as described. A great read for anyone with an interest in martial arts/the art of war.
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on 13 January 2018
Very good in depth book. A must read for anyone interested in Samurai.
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on 21 October 2012
This refers to the "Wilder publications LLC" paperback edition (2008). Pretty sad to see such a great book filled with distracting typos. There are annoying parentheses from someone called Slaegr (the translator? the editor?) where he briefly explains customs and meanings. But in the middle of the text? Footnotes would have been less disruptive. The layout is pretty basic in this version, looks like the font has been picked to fill up the book: if you are looking for a compact copy, look elsewhere. If you are looking for a nice edition to keep, look elsewhere.
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on 22 February 2018
This is a must book for every martial artist from novice to master.
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on 25 November 2013
What can one say about this masterpiece of Japanese literature? It's informative, accessible and gives a superb insight into a period of Japanese history which, although may have long gone, still influences modern Japan today.

For students of the Bushi or academics undertaking research, this is the book for you.
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