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The Book of Five Rings (Bushido--The Way of the Warrior) Hardcover – March 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: Bushido--The Way of the Warrior
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA; 1st edition (March 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770028016
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770028013
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.8 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #647,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"On Wall Street, when Musashi talks, people listen" -Time Magazine


"Musashi's teachings read like lessons from the latest business management gurus. Who couldn't succeed in business by applying Musahi's insights to conflicts and strategy." -Inc. Magazine


About the Author


MIYAMOTO MUSASHI (1584-1645) was a renowned swordsman and painter. A masterless samurai, he developed the two-sword style of fighting and emerged victorious in more than 60 sword fights in his travels throughout Japan. The author of The Book of Five Rings, he is also the subject of the novel Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa.

WILLIAM SCOTT WILSON, the translator, was born in 1944 and grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As an undergraduate student at Dartmouth College in 1966, he was invited by a friend to join a three-month kayak trip up the coast of Japan from Shimonoseki to Tokyo. This eye-opening journey, beautifully documented in National Geographic, spurred Wilson's fascination with the culture and history of Japan.

After receiving a B.A. degree in political science from Dartmouth, Wilson earned a second B.A. in Japanese language and literature from the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies in Monterey, California, then undertook extensive research on Edo-period (1603-1868) philosophy at the Aichi Prefectural University, in Nagoya, Japan.

Wilson completed his first translation, Hagakure, while living in an old farmhouse deep in the Japanese countryside. Hagakure saw publication in 1979, the same year Wilson completed an M.A. in Japanese language and literature at the University of Washington. Wilson's other translations include The Book of Five Rings, The Life-Giving Sword, The Unfettered Mind, the Eiji Yoshikawa novel Taiko, and Ideals of the Samurai, which has been used as a college textbook on Japanese history and thought. Two decades after its initial publication, Hagakure was prominently featured in the Jim Jarmusch film Ghost Dog.

Wilson currently lives in Miami, Florida.

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Customer Reviews

It is not a book to read once and put down, it is a book to read again and again.
Eileen D. Schatzman
"The Book of Five Rings" (Bushido--The Way of the Warrior)by Miyamoto Musashi is one of my favorite books of all time.
Kimchi Cakes
One good book is worth a hundred crummy ones, and this book is one outstanding book.
T.A.L. Dozer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

237 of 243 people found the following review helpful By D. Thomas on August 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have studied this book for years, and have read five different translations. The William Scott Wilson translation is by far the best. I always get the feeling that other translators are putting too much of themselves or their ideas about what Musashi is saying into the translations. Wilson's translation is clear and concise and yet does not feel filtered.

Here is a passage from the Thomas Cleary translation "Upset happens in all sorts of things. One way it happens is through a feeling of being under acute pressure. Another is through a feeling of unreasonable strain. A third is through a feeling of surprise at the unexpected."

Here is the same passage translated by Wilson "There are many kinds of agitation. One is a feeling of danger, a second is a feeling that something is beyond your capability and a third is a feeling of the unexpected. This should be investigated thoroughly."

They say the same thing, but Wilson is clearer.

As for the book itself, it is a classic masterpiece that describes not only a style of swordsmanship, but a way of living.
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168 of 180 people found the following review helpful By Magellan HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As others have already written very complete reviews, I just had a few miscellaneous comments, mostly on how to understand Musashi's seemingly paradoxical ideas about technique.

This has become a legendary book. Written by the famous swordsman, sometimes referred to in the west as "The Lone Ranger of Japan," Musashi claimed to have been in over 60 sword battles, triumphing each time, so it's no wonder Musashi's name has become legendary in both Japan and the west.

The book sets out Musashi's philosophy and correct Way of the Sword. But the principles Musashi espouses are bound to sound perplexing to many people. Musashi says that the best stance is no stance, that too much strength is bad (your sword may shatter when clashing swords), and that even too much speed is bad (it may upset your balance), and that none of these are the true Way of the Sword. The best technique is, in fact, no technique.

This sort of philosophy is bound to be more than a little confusing, so I'll see if I can clarify it a little. I'm not sure I understand Musashi either, although I've studied martial arts for many years and have read my share of eastern philosophy, but I'll give you my ideas on how I relate to them just in case you find them useful.

Basically what Musashi is saying is that once you've learned a technique and committed it to memory and especially "muscle memory," it becomes fixed and is no longer adaptive. Your body becomes channalized into this form or technique, which then becomes limiting, preventing you from achieving true mastery, which is the ability to adapt and flow with any of the infinite number of situations you may encounter. Fixity is therefore dysfunctional and is not the true Way of the Sword.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
William Scott Wilson is one of the best translators I have ever read. I think this version is the best of the ones that I have read. I love the book and the binding. The book is a wonderful presentation.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Having read and annotated this book, I must admit that this book has confirmed what I always knew about martial arts. It is a value system and not a believe system, it is strongly based on self discipline and requires you not to lie about just reading books, but to actually go out there and practise over and over.
The translation itself is decent, without overemphasis in any one area (military, religous etc.) and the book presentation itself is admittedly good.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Pistolero on March 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I've read several versions of this book and William Scott Wilson seems to have the best understanding of the Japanese language and desire to keep it as "word for word" as he can keep it without making the text obscure. I highly recommend this translation. Oh yeah, and this book is highly valuable for philosophers and martial artists alike. Musashi was a genius of both martial arts and life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Walter E. Kurtz on January 5, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Book of Five Rings is a fencing manual with a dose of philosophy added for good measure. It is considered to be a classic, but after reading it I cannot see why, for the book is of very limited use to the wider audience.

The Book of Five rings was written by a man named Miyamoto Musashi. Musashi lived in feudal Japan in the first half of the seventeenth century. Today he is a semi-legendary figure, and like all semi-legendary figures, most of the tales surrounding his life are more fiction than fact. What is known for certain is that Musashi came from very humble background. Most likely his parents were simple peasants or something similar. From very early age, he was fascinated (obsessed, one could say) with combat. He trained himself to be a warrior. When he reached early twenties, he started to travel the land far and wide, seeking renown warriors and challenging them to see who is better. It is estimated that he fought some sixty duels, all of them victorious. Many of the men he had defeated and killed were warriors of great prowess. Some were even (before meeting Musashi) thought to be the best fighters in all of Japan. Aside for duels, Musashi had also fought in a number of battles and other violent engagements.

By the time he had reached late thirties, Musashi had something of a spiritual revelation. While he did continue to train with weapons for the rest of his life, he gave up on violence and started to learn other crafts, such as tea ceremonies (a big thing in Japanese culture) and poetry.

Musashi died in his fifties from natural causes (most likely cancer). Shortly before dying, when he could feel death coming for him, he wrote the Book of Five Rings.

So much about the man; now about his book.
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