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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not an instruction book for ass-whoopin'
It is interesting to note that all of the readers see this as a text on war, and how to beat your enemies. The first part of the book should be a leson to all of the war-mongers out there, that is If You Go To War You Have Already Lost. The consequences to your own people and soldiers and even the land must be counted for years after the battle is done. Sun-Tzu...
Published on April 11 2005 by Joe Breed

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Work, Okay Presentation.
First off, I'd like to make it clear that I have read the Art of War by Sun Tzu in a variety of translations, interpretations, and presentations - so this is not in so much a review of the work as it is this version.

The Art of War is a seminal text on military strategy, doctrine and mindset. Absolutely essential reading for any involved with martial arts,...
Published on April 18 2011 by IDGS


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not an instruction book for ass-whoopin', April 11 2005
By 
Joe Breed (Mississauga, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Art of War (Paperback)
It is interesting to note that all of the readers see this as a text on war, and how to beat your enemies. The first part of the book should be a leson to all of the war-mongers out there, that is If You Go To War You Have Already Lost. The consequences to your own people and soldiers and even the land must be counted for years after the battle is done. Sun-Tzu explains this well, and proceeds to explain how to wage a war causing the minimum amount of damage and suffering.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book on Leadership Ever Written, Sept. 6 2002
This review is from: The Art of War (Paperback)
For years I've heard people refer to this book as the ultimate tactical planner's guide. However, I never took the time to read it because I was turned off by images of greedy, yuppie stockbrokers refering to this book as their Bible. I didn't want to read anything recommended by corporate head-hunter types. I detested those individuals and any philosophy they espoused.
However, when the war in Afghanistan started, I became fascinated with military tactics and questioned why we have to bomb everything in sight. Is that the only way to win a war and does bombing actually end the conflict or prolong it? I picked up this book hoping to glean some Eastern wisdom from the legendary Sun Tzu. I was not disappointed.
Sun Tzu confirmed everything my instincts had been telling me about this dunderheaded Clausewitzean approach to military tactics. The US's overrealiance on ordinance and smart munitions has resulted in us becoming more and more tactically and politically inept. Our military destroys infrastracture and imposes silly sanctions that only prolong the "total war". In the end we exhaust our resources, frustrate our troops, alieanate our public, and forever ruin the indigenous people's lives. The tragic irony being we do more damage to the people we are trying to save than the "enemy" could have done himself.
Individuals like Bin Laden could have been apprehended had we taken up the offers of the Sudanese or freed up the small tactical units that warned us of this nutjob years ago. Instead we blunder forward with our highly destructive and inevitably ineffectual answer which is attrition warfare. The same thing that probably got us in this mess in the first place.
Sun Tzu, amazingly enough, predicted 2,500 years ago that this total war approach (destroying your enemy's property, stealing the enemy's food and riches) was actually more destructive to the endgame and to the overrall political objective. He eloquently advanced the notion that the true art of war is to conquer your enemy without ever actually going to battle!
Sun Tzu's heavy emphasis on psychological warfare (using spies to spread rumors and cause division in enemy ranks, disguising troop movements by appearing more formidable than you actually are, and winning through skillful negotiation) all seem concepts lost on today political and military elite. Sun Tzu preached you must possess the victory BEFORE ever setting foot on the battlefield. Despite the book being a military manual, I was surprised at how much emphasis was placed on avoiding war and pursuing mental and psychological victories. When Sun Tzu preached "know your enemy" he wanted you to know the endgame. He wanted you to see the bloodshed and the loss and determine if it was even worth it to use military force in an effort to achieve a political objective.
Our "100 hour" wars have become decades-long nightmares. Our reliance on air bombardment is resulting in us ignoring many of the brilliant small unit tactics that Sun Tzu espoused, thus we've had to reign in even more fire from above because our troops down below are insufficiently trained. We've abandoned the principles of deception. Because of our overreliance on technology, we've abandoned using human intelligence (which Sun Tzu strongly espoused) thus we have no moles, no double agents, and inevitably, no reliable intelligence on our enemy. In short, we don't know our enemy. We've sold ourselves on Clausewitz' destructive theories of attrition warfare. We've forgotten that the most effective and most advanced weapon in our arsenal is our brain.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ageless art, July 7 2004
By 
D. Roberts "Hadrian12" (Battle Creek, Michigan United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Art of War (Paperback)
One would intuitively think that any book on war written thousands of years ago would long-since be rendered obsolete by all the technological advances in warfare that have occured over the past few centuries. Not so, says Sun Tzu. The present text is perhaps even more relevant today than when the master put pen to scribe.
The best generals throughout history (Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Napoleon, Lee, Patton) have all either innately grasped the lessons of this book, or they have learned by reading from the master. The worst generals, on the other hand (Nicias, Crassus, Hooker, Burnside) have been oblivious to Sun Tzu's teachings - and more often than not they paid dearly for their shortcomings.
Much of THE ART OF WAR is straightforward. Some of it even falls under the category of common sense. Amazingly, even the most rudimentary instructions have been ignored by military leaders down through the ages.
If, perhaps, there is one single "golden" rule of warfare that Sun Tzu would ultimately allude to, it is this: warfare is a complicated business. Do not enter into it without thinking through what it is you wish to accomplish by going to war. Do not go into combat half-cocked, and don't rely on half-baked plans or half-wit generals.
The penalty for not following this dictum could very well be either your annihilation or the financial and materiel ruin of your society. For further elaboration on this point I will defer you to the Chinese sage himself.
Given the amount of information rendered by this book, it is a surprisingly quick read. As a bonus, we are also able to peruse the trenchant commentary of various other Chinese military persons.
This book is, quite simply, a must for the military historian - both amateur & professional. I would hope that it is standard reading for all major war colleges in my country. While the instruments of war change over the centuries, the rules of war remain constant.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible translation of a most important work..., Dec 7 2003
This review is from: The Art of War (Paperback)
Indeed, I am heartened to read one reviewer lambasting the general critical acceptance of "The Art of War" as "flowery". Unfortunately, most Westerners see Chinese philosophy as little more than yoga meditation and interior decoration. Of course, this is not the case.
Take, for example, Sun's "Art of War". Here is a man sick of watching ancient Chinese warlords wage war in a sloppy, haphazard fashion (more as a social tradition than anything else), wasting their populace's resources and lives. Thus, Sun writes a magnum opus discussing the proper means of waging war, from gaining the support of the people to clearly articulating goals to ensuring success of well-trained armies in short and long campaigns all the way to the minute details of using fire (even setting other people on fire). Far from the flowery rhetoric of most Western diatribes on Taoism and Buddhism and (enter your favorite Chinese term here), the Art of War is at once simple and immediate, which is why it has survived for 2500 years.
Griffith's translation of this work is masterful as well. Included are many of the commentaries of the ancient scholars (including, for you Three Kingdoms fans, copious amounts of Cao Cao), which show how Sun's text was used in various situations, both in war AND peace). Also, he includes an excellent introduction which places the work in its historical context and speaks of Mao Zedong's use of its precepts. Also are five appendices, one of which contains the other famous Art of War, that of Wu. I was particularly surprised at his none-too-flattering comments regarding the Japanese understanding of this work (truthfully, I think that too many people see the art of war in the Gordon Gecko, "Rising Sun" business sense), particularly in pointing out their blunders during WWII.
All in all, reader, you will be hard-pressed to find a better translation of this seminal work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Work, Okay Presentation., April 18 2011
By 
IDGS (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
First off, I'd like to make it clear that I have read the Art of War by Sun Tzu in a variety of translations, interpretations, and presentations - so this is not in so much a review of the work as it is this version.

The Art of War is a seminal text on military strategy, doctrine and mindset. Absolutely essential reading for any involved with martial arts, warfare, or simply seeking a new way to enlighten their daily lives. An astounding work, and a fairly painless, quick read.

However. And there's always a however.

I recently bought this version after misplacing one of my former versions of the work. Needless to say, this was a buy I don't regret, but I would have liked to have picked another version had I been given the chance to do it all again. There are a number of typos, formatting errors, and misinterpretations in this version. The page size is large for the amount of text per page, likened to an 8 1/2' x 11' piece of paper folded width-wize. Actually, that may be what this is really printed on, save for a better paper stock. The editors and printers would have done better to select a smaller book format, made it thicker, or utilized more of the page space itself. This is a short work, but placing it in a large format doesn't add to it's value - especially for a public domain piece.

In any case, this is an adequate version and printing of the text, but consider spending your money on a more developed version.

3/5, based on this actual version.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A play only for pros, April 23 2004
By 
Roberto P. De Ferraz "ferraz9" (Sao Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Art of War (Hardcover)
The Art Of War, divided in 13 small chapters and in richly illustrated edition,is the second most important book ever written on how to wage a successfull war, only losing the first place to Clausewitz'On War. According to legend, it was due to the reading of a French version of the book from the Chinese philosopher turned general Sun Tzu that the great Napoleon had all the credits of his many victories. Whenever he did not apply the books precepts, also according to legend, he lost his bet and paid in human lives and shame. An English version was only available in the beginning of the 20 century, now digested, commented and explained by the James Clavel, author of the famous book Shogun and Gaijiin, just to name a few of his works.
It is also said of this wonderfull small book that very few texts like it had so overwhelming a power to change things on human affairs, be them wars or business battles for competitive turf. But the conciseness of the text is fully intentional, alluding to the objectiveness Sun Tzu demanded from orders given by commanders to troops. A word less or a word more, and victory is in jeopardy and many lives were to be lost. In my opinion, the most important chapter of the book is the one covering the importance of the use of spies, something that is prevalent in world politics and in the business world. I liked also when he somehow alludes to a certain solitariness in victory, something akin to managerial solitude.
This is certainly one of the best books ever to be written on the subject and I hope you enjoy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent If Read Historically; Terrible For Business, Dec 27 2003
By 
Matthew K. Minerd (College Park, MD, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Art of War (Hardcover)
As an exposition on Chinese General Sun Tzu's ideas of fighting, "The Art of War" is an excellent source to use to look upon the spirit of ancient Chinese war. Written as truly a guide for sucessful battle campaigns, it is functionally just that. It provides a glimpse at how Chinese generals (yes plural - thanks to commentary that is given) viewed fighting and winning battles. In many ways, it provides a philosophical view of how full frontal assaults and pride can lead to the fall of conquests. However, this work is often misused as an application for businesses by capitalists who think that they too should treat the market as a war-zone. In this case, they reduce Tzu's warfare (which would be used to defend the good) to something that harms innocent workers for self-aggrandizement.
If not read from a greedy capitalist standpoint, "The Art of War" provides an excellent source of enlightenment about war tactics of ancient China (that are in many ways applicable today). However, to use Tzu's work as a guide on how to work (and hence, live) is a terrible reason for reading "The Art of War".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What Do Tony Soprano and Gordon Gekko Have In Common?, Aug. 27 2003
By 
This review is from: The Art of War (Hardcover)
What do Tony Soprano and Gordon Gekko have in common?
A. They are successful leaders
B. They are fictitious characters
C. They have been involved in illegal activities
D. They quote The Art of War by Sun Tzu
E. All of the above
Both the HBO character Tony Soprano and the Wall Street maverick played by Michael Douglas expounded on the wisdom found in The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Reading this short book will provide you with interesting quotes at cocktail parties, such as "In peace prepare for war, in war prepare for peace."
As you may be aware, The Art of War is not a recent edition to Amazon's list; it missed Amazon by 25 centuries. It is, however, a favorite of many contemporary executives who believe that its lessons on strategy and tactics of warfare may be applied metaphorically to business situations. In addition, since it is read and studied in Asia, it is thought by many to provide insight into eastern thought and philosophy, especially in business competition.
As a reference for leaders, it provides timeless advice for dealing with conflict, especially in competitive situations. For example it provides advice to:
End conflicts quickly: "In all history, there is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare."
Conduct research thoroughly: "The general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought."
Build Esprit de Corps at all levels of the organization: "He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks."
Beware of five leadership faults: recklessness, cowardice, delicacy of honor, hasty temper, and over solicitude for subordinates.
By the way, the correct answer is "E".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Timeless Beauty of War, May 11 2002
By 
Peter Mackay "surgeonsmate" (Campbell, ACT Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Art of War (Paperback)
War is ugly, dirty, brutal, wasteful and expensive. That is the reality of it. Let's not pretend otherwise.
Having said that, the ancient Chinese master strips away all the familiar trappings of war - the warriors, weapons, forts and tactics - to reveal the essence of conflict and how to win.
His lessons are as valid here and now as they were in an empire a long time ago and far, far away. It simply does not matter how you are fighting, what you are fighting over nor even why you are fighting. If you are forced into conflict with another, the lessons in this book will guarantee victory.
Brute strength, overwhelming force, super weapons, holding the high ground, none of these are required for victory. All that is needed is a leader who can understand and apply the principles of warfare.
Essentially it boils down to three ideas.
1. Know yourself.
2. Know your enemy.
3. Only fight when you can win.
Do this, and you will win competitions, elections, games. Anything that involves conflict. Even wars.
Sun Tzu's elegant language lays bare the principles of warfare, illustrating his lessons with examples from Ancient China. It is a thought-provoking, colourful and valuable book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless piece of history written for the future., Oct. 11 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Art of War (Hardcover)
I cannot remember who introduced me to "The Art of War", but I know I could not hold onto the book for very long. Each friend I thought would benefit from the ancient words of Sun Tzu received a copy from me. I went through seven copies before buying the hard cover for my collection.
I found James Clavell's version quite difficult to find, but well worth it - due to clarity of reading and balance.
I tried reading Cleary's version, but could not get through the first chapter. However, I did purchase "Mastering the Art of War" by Cleary; finding it a better tour guide.
Clavell's "Art of War" offers tactical insight on overcoming an opponent whether it be war, work, relationships, or your own personal demons.
Sun Tzu created a timeless piece of history written for the future. I personally feel that today's society needs to look back, master the art of war, in order to repair the future.
Today I'm buying book #9 for a person who inspired me... I wanted to return the favor.
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The Art of War (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
The Art of War (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) by Sun Tzu (Mass Market Paperback - May 1 2003)
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