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The Book of Five Rings Mass Market Paperback – Jan 11 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; New edition edition (Jan. 11 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590302486
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590302484
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 1.3 x 17.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 222 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Library Journal

Written by legendary Japanese swordsman Musashi, this 17th-century exposition of sword-fighting strategy and Zen philosophy has been embraced by many contemporary readers, especially business school students, as a manual on how to succeed in life. There are many English translations, but every one, including this one, suffers from inadequate cultural, literary, and philosophical commentary. Musashi's work should be studied, not simply read, and Cleary's translation lacks commentary; it also makes the prose seems flat and the philosophy simplistic. Yet what makes this new translation worthwhile is the second text, buried deep in the back like an appendix: Yagyu Munenori's The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War. This text, also an exposition on sword fighting and Zen philosophy, is difficult to find in an English translation, and its availability is welcome. Recommended for academic libraries generally.
- Glenn Masuchika, Chaminade Univ. Lib., Honolulu
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


"Embraced by many contemporary readers as a manual on how to succeed in life."— Library Journal

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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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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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Sublime. There is no other words for it.

I am a very critical person, so this comment should not be taken lightly.

The content is a masterpiece regardless of one's opinion or experience in the ways of the martial arts.
The translation seems to be impeccable as the words are well chosen in regards to the spirit of the topic. It is in no way the work of an amateur translator and many experts have clearly been implicated.
And finally the narration, is of highly professionnal quality.
This is one of the best product I have ever bought. Period.
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Format: Paperback
This book was originally written many centuries ago, in feudal Japan, a period of "great social change." The country was united, and many samurai were out of work. Therefore, master-less samurai roamed across Japan looking for other samurai, against whom to test their blades (swords). Miyamoto Musashi was one of these master-less samurai.
However, Musashi was also a philosopher, a sumi-e painter, and a sculptor. Sumi-e, for those who are unfamiliar, is a form of Japanese painting, that emphasizes the white space in the painting, as well as the lines painted.
When Musashi was an old man, he was able to write down coherently, the philosophy that had determined the course of his life path. This writing is the Book of Five Rings.
Reader's knowledgeable about Zen thinking will find Musashi's philosophy to be familiar. For those don't know, Zen is a philosophy, that focuses on being aware of one's surroundings, and of knowing intuitively how to respond to events. Zen, unlike Buddhism, is a philosophy that believes you can achieve enlightenment in the present lifetime.
Heiho, Musashi's philosophy, is predicated on this belief. It is also, as Musashi explains, "necessary to keep in mind that the essence of Heiho is to build an indomitable spirit and an iron will; to believe that you cannot fail in doing anything." It is a demanding but optimistic philosophy.
The Book of Five Rings is a short, but challenging read. It will probably be most appreciated by practitioners of the martial arts, and others who want to learn a specific method of applying Zen-like principles to their everyday existence. I doubt that anyone will be able to fully grasp the meanings and intricacies of this book after one reading. Small matter though, because it's about the size of a back-pants pocket and is great reading material on the bus, the subway, or elsewhere.
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