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216 of 220 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Translation of a Classic
The Art of War seems to be a classic piece of Chinese philosophy that is easy to translate into a mediocre work. I've read a number of translations of Sun Tzu that are clunky and have none of the wit of the original text. Now, I don't read ancient Chinese, but when a Chinese philisophical text reads like a manual for a microwave, you know something is lost in...
Published on March 1, 2006 by Scott R. Dukart

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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Thought this would be better
The content of the translations themselves was fine, but I found the formatting difficult to read. The translator also interjects thoughts into the middle of sentences which disrupted the flow of the text even further. Other versions may be fascinating, but I found this one stale and unremarkable.
Published on August 3, 2010 by NYM


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216 of 220 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Translation of a Classic, March 1, 2006
By 
The Art of War seems to be a classic piece of Chinese philosophy that is easy to translate into a mediocre work. I've read a number of translations of Sun Tzu that are clunky and have none of the wit of the original text. Now, I don't read ancient Chinese, but when a Chinese philisophical text reads like a manual for a microwave, you know something is lost in translation.

On the other hand, this translation, done by Thomas Cleary, showed me the subtlety in the Art of War. In addition to the work itself (which would make a very thin book) there is a long, interesting introduction written by the translator which I found very helpful in thinking about the Art of War, as well as helping to put the work in both a historical context, and the context amongst many of the other ancient Chinese philisophical works. How Sun Tzu's work relates to Taoism is very interesting. Also, there are selected commentation on each of the paragraphs of the Art of War. These commentaries were written over different periods of time by different Chinese philosophers. These help to show how many different points of view can exist over a single statement made by Sun Tzu.

I find this translation very well done, and I can easily recommend it to anyone who wants to read The Art of War.
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116 of 117 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Timeless Beauty of War, May 11, 2002
By 
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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215 of 228 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless classic that has practical application, February 20, 2001
This review is from: The Art of War (Paperback)
I got this particular edition of Sun Tzu's Art of War at a strategy course for sales. I already had a copy of it at home, but this edition is so nicely done that I gave my old copy away and kept this one. The introduction of James Clavell is a nice touch.
It is amazing to me that this book is not read in high schools or colleges in favor of Machiavelli's work (The Prince or The Art of War.) Sun Tzu's writing is clear and to the point. Unlike the popular Book of Five Rings by Musashi, this book is not metaphorical and poetic; it's downright practical. And it's not hard to read, unlike many classics.
If you are doing business in China, this is also a good book to know. I mentioned some of the classic strategies while giving a course in China, and every member of the class had read it, knew it well, and gave me many examples from recent Chinese history where Sun Tzu's strategies were employed. This book is close to their hearts, and will give you insight if you are doing business in the East.
Of course, the most famous anecdote from this book is about gaining the obedience of troops; the emperor, wishing to interview Sun Tzu for the commission of general, asked if Sun Tzu's military principles could be applied to women. Sun Tzu replied yes, the principles worked for women as well as men. Accordingly, Sun Tzu was given the task of organizing the emperor's many concubines into an army. Sun Tzu lined up the concubines and set the two favorites as officers at the head of the columns.
He gave them a simple set of orders to march and drill (eyes front, right face, about face. The drums sounded and instead of following the commands, the girls simply giggled and blushed.
He repeated the orders again, saying that if the orders were not clear, it is first the fault of the general. He repeated the commands, and the girls simply stood and giggled again.
"If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders ARE clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers." Upon saying this, he ordered the two concubines at the head of the troop, favorites of the emperor, to be beheaded.
The emperor hurriedly sent down the command to stop, he had no desire to see his favorites executed. The emperor said "We are satisfied that the general knows how to command."
But Sun Tzu said, "Once having received the commission, there are certain commands I am unable to accept." And he ordered the two favorites to be beheaded. Once again, he gave the commands. The concubines marched, whirled about and drilled in perfect order. The emperor appointed Sun Tzu general.
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88 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless piece of history written for the future., October 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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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic on the priciples of war, May 4, 2008
This ancient classic of 13 chapters was written over 2,500 years ago by the legendary Chinese general Sun Tzu. It is a must have for military buffs that enjoy reading about the tactics of the most succesful generals. It is rumored that Napoleon used a French translation of the Art of War to his advantage while conquering most of Europe, and he lost when he broke its principles.
The principles that are with in this ancient text can also be used in games of strategy, business conflicts, and the day to day battles of life.
Here are ten principles to give you a sample of the wisdom found in its pages:

Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance with out fighting.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.

Spies are the most important element in war, because upon them depends an army's ability to move.

All warfare is based on deception.

The general who wins a battle makes many calculations before the battle is fought.

There is no instance of a country having benefited from a prolonged war.

The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals.

In war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.

When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. (So they can retreat).

Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained, fight not unless the position is critical.

Taken as a whole this is a book of wisdom and principles on how to win. I rank it in my top ten books I have ever read. It is a must have for any home library. The is a very small book that is quick and easy to read.
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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Thought this would be better, August 3, 2010
This review is from: The Art of War (Kindle Edition)
The content of the translations themselves was fine, but I found the formatting difficult to read. The translator also interjects thoughts into the middle of sentences which disrupted the flow of the text even further. Other versions may be fascinating, but I found this one stale and unremarkable.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Art of War, and Life - a timeless and universal text, January 11, 2001
This review is from: The Art of War (Hardcover)
The Art of War by Sun Tzu covers the basic premises on how to wage war and command troops, much like Machiavelli's Il Principe instructs aspiring rulers the proper way to govern a country. Although the books are similar, The Art of War applies to many more aspects of life than just the conquest of territory. It can easily be carried over into the office, into the home, and even into personal romances. The topics are so broad they can be applied to almost anything yet the details discussed are applicable to every scenario you can think of.
Sun Tzu covers all as he describes the proper course of action to take in all scopes from the entirety of the war to the relations with the individual soldier. Everything from maneuvering troops, to the proper use of various classes of spies is covered in the book, as Tzu describes himself nothing can be omitted from this timeless classic as "The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence under no circumstances can it be neglected." (1). As history has unfolded, it has never been devoid of wars, and does not appear to be in our future. The foreword presents fascinating insight into how great rulers are said to have used and succeeded with The Art of War, prestigious rulers such as Napoleon.
This universal applicability of The Art of War is one of its most enticing and lasting appeals. The book leaves nothing out, covering every aspect of war and its orchestration. Thus it successfully dictates the best course of action to take whether you're a CEO or just another guy looking to pin his relationship down. The foreword is excellent as well, it does a good job setting up the book and giving a brief and quite interesting background of the book's history. The only negative comment I have is the odd editing works during the book when the editor re-summarizes some of the original text into his own words, as that text lacks the power and simplicity of the other directly translated text.
This book is definitely worth the read! Take your time to see how Sun Tzu's writing apply to your own life and you will see how powerful his words are, as it will provide insight into almost any situation you're in.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art of War, May 25, 2000
By A Customer
If you're going to pick up a copy of the "Art of War," this particular edition is the most attractive one to have sitting in a collection. You don't have to be an ancient Chinese general to learn from Sun Tzu's 2,000 year old masterpiece. Much of this material can still be applicable in day to day life if you look past the military language. Especially recommended for people trying to get ahead in tough fields like business or politics or even just for those who happen to like philosophy. Also check out the animated Art of War by Tsai Chi Chung if you're looking for a lighter hearted presentation of this and other Chinese classics.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Version of the Art of War, August 23, 2007
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The Art of War is a timeless masterpiece of interaction of power and politics. It is about war and not war. This version is the one you want if you are interested in the simple, yet profound wisdom of Sun Tzu. I have tried several other versions edited and commented on, thoughts and ideas spun left and spun right by other authors. There is no spin here simple staright forward thought and principles.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Factoids, April 8, 2007
Thought I provide some facts about this edition of The Art of War by Sun Tzu, translated by Samuel B. Griffith. The translation in this book is the same as the UNESCO edition (ISBN 0195015401,) but there are some differences in the contents.

Removes Appendix III. Sun Tzu in Western Languages
Removes Appendix IV. Brief Biographies of the Commentators
Removes the Maps
Adds seventy-five images
Pages are in a satin texture

In addition, this translation was done earlier than the findings from 1972, however, the analysis and commentary is top notch, so I would definitely recommend reading this and additional more up to date translation to complement.
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The Art of War
The Art of War by Sun Tzu (Paperback - December 1, 1989)
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