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The Book of Five Rings Paperback – Mar 22 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 161 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; New edition edition (March 22 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877739986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877739982
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 7.5 x 11.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 59 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #211,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tom Douglas TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 5 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This volumes contains very readable translations of The Books of Five Rings by arch Samurai Miyamoto Musashi and The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War by Yagyu Munenori.

At 192 pages it is a slim book, but it should not be read in one, or even several sittings. This is a book to digest slowly - read a page or two then leave it for a couple of days.

The lessons of the samurai are nothing new - be more determined than your enemy; be better prepared than your enemy; and so on - but there is little new in most management texts and, as with comedy, it is the way you tell it that makes the difference.

The Books of Five Rings has a simple homespun wisdom and talks gently but carries powerful messages. A Buddhist simplicity the focuses the power of the inner self.

It is, by the nature of its author, about confrontation. Not to be used on your kids, but more for competitive business, or sports, or our own personal battles, against weight gain for instance.

Musashi tells us that to be a successful warrior means adopting the correct state of mind, and this book, with its simple rough-hewn lessons, shows us that there can be a victorious warrior within everyone.

This is not a life-changing book, but it is one that will sharpen your edge, and one that you will keep and re-read for a couple of decades, rather than read once and pass on to friends.

Highly recommended. Five stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark Wieczorek on June 1 2001
Format: Paperback
Many of these books are difficult to understand because they are meant to be used as study and reference guides along with a teacher. The Book of Five Rings (of which I've read 3 of the 5, and am just a few pages away from finishing) is a treatise describing Musashi Miyamoto's personal school of fighting - the school of two skies. He eschews other schools as too this or too that. They concentrate, he says, on technique rather than what swordfighting is all about - killing your opponent.
The text is dry, and the sections are short. They are intended (a) for swordfighters, and (b) to be meditated on. The principals in this book would take a swordfighter years to master. In fact, at one point he says one should study for about 3 years (he gives a specific number of weeks) and then practice for 30 or so more years.
How does this translate into my life? I'm not sure. I don't have enough of a background in swordfighting, the culture, etc. to know how these concepts apply to my life. If perhaps I had a guide, in the form of commentary, I could more easily integrate these concepts into my life. As is, however, this book isn't of much use to me, except as reference for the day when I do have commentary.
I reccomend, instead, Cleary's Classics of Strategy and Counsel. This trilogy of books includes the Art of War, Mastering the Art of War, The Lost Art of War, The Silver Sparrow Art of War, Thunder in the Sky, The Japanese Art of War, The Book of Five Rings, Ways of Warriors, Codes of Kings (which includes several works), The Art of Wealth, Living a Good Life, The Human Element, and Back to Beginnings.
In addition to the text, there is often commentary, and supplementary material that can put the text in context and aid the student on his or her journey. Amazon lists several of these as the same book...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
i was reading this book but i had to put it down ,i just need some time for myself to get in too it thank you
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By Bookwurm on Nov. 22 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
My daughter recommended this book to her father so I ordered it for him and he thoroughly enjoyed it, he would recommend it to other people without hesitation, having said that he also said that it is not for everyone and says that is mainly for folk interested in cultural diversity.
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Format: Hardcover
The subject says it all. I found Sun Tzu's The Art Of War was filled with useful antecdotes and advice, but I found it difficult to concentrate on The Book Of Five Rings. I didn't get much out of it...it was an interesting insight into the period of history, but apart from that, I didn't find there was much there. Maybe a second read would bring more out of it.

For whatever it's worth, the book itself is much smaller than it looks. However, it does have a nice gold-coloured tassle-bookmark. :-) lol
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By wiredweird on April 17 2004
Format: Paperback
This book has a singleness of mind and directness that are hard to describe. It is about one thing only, and about forging oneself into the tool that can do that one thing.
The writing is earthy and practical. However blunt and direct it may seem, I get the impression that the translator softened its style. The second translation in this book, from about the same time, is more literary, more refined, and alludes to a much wider range of the educated person's reading. Next to Musashi, and embodying so much of what he disdained, it simply looks foppish.
I do technical work. Much of the process of design and debug has the feel of facing intelligent, determined opposition. For that reason, large parts of Musashi's advice seem true and fresh. He advises that a warrior to become master of all tools, not some just some favorite - today, he would call that the "golden hammer." In 'Letting Go Four Hands,' he advises a prompt change of attack when the first assault deadlocks. In 'Mountain and Sea Changing,' he advises against repeating an approach that has already failed against a given opponent. All those are things that work as well in the lab as on the battlefield.
The Five Rings should be in the library of any professional, artist, or technical worker. Cleary's translation is modern and readable. I would give it five stars, except that so many classics from China and Japan discuss not only tactics but strategy as well. It's not about any flaw in this book, but about the excellence of the other books that this one complements.
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