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The Book of Five Rings Hardcover – October 19, 2010
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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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Top Customer Reviews
Great translation of an excellent book in a small but well constructed hardback. The addition of various calligraphy and Musashi's The Way of Walking Alone are a welcomed treat that adds further depth to an already remarkable book.
The Go Rin No Sho (a.k.a. The Book of Five Rings) is the definitive book on Samurai Philosophy by the archetype of The Wandering Samurai himself, Miyamoto Musashi. Throughout his remarkable life, Musashi developed a philosophy and a style all his own. As stated early in the text, his philosophy is not Budhism, nor Taoism nor any other existing philosophy. It is rather a hard won and practical philosophy, almost a code of conduct and a way of viewing the world that is not bound by esoteric nor abstract thinking. Instead, his writing is about a gradual awakening and clarity of thought that his many and varied experiences led him to. Despite being written by a rampant, unwashed and bewilderingly intelligent swordsman with an odd smattering of formal education, his ability to elucidate the intricacies of strategy and apply it to all aspects of life are staggering and surprisingly relevant even now. You do not have to be a fan of Japan, Samurai, the Edo period, eastern philosophy or any other genre you may want to file this book under in order to appreciate it. It is relatively short, easy to read, to the point and like the man himself, deadly accurate. Enjoy the genius that is The Book of Five Rings.
The book itself is precisely what I was hoping for. It's not very long and terribly in depth but I wanted something for training references, so it's perfect.
Use his tactics and strategies, Musashi claims, and one will ALWAYS be successful in killing one's opponent even if one's opponents be multiplied by 5 or 20. Like I said, 'The Book of Five Rings' is Musashi propaganda. Very few of us are capable of achieving combat or dueling perfection even if we were especially gifted and spent years training in Musashi's philosophies and methods. On the other hand, most of us probably would get a lot more dangerous.
'The Book of Five Rings' was clearly never intended as a 'stand alone' text. It's value could only have been as a supplement to active training exercises in Musashi's techniques. Time and again he writes of 'correct' hits, strikes, slashes, parries, repostes but ALWAYS writes that his descriptions are worthless without intensive training and consideration.
This book has been touted as a philosophy as to success in cutthroat business environments or--more correctly--how the reader can use Musashi's ruthless tactics and philosophies against one's more naive business rivals. In my opinion, this is a complete misinterpretation--and misuse--of Musashi's polemic. Although Musashi's approach to killing is systematically business-like, he knew next to nothing about 'business' and could have cared less. Some of his philosophies can be applied to life, in general, but make no mistake about it, Musashi is all about literally butchering one's opponent, primarily with a sword. Slash at his body, arms, hands or legs. Stab at your opponent's heart or face. Never do anything useless. Always try to discomfit your opponent--BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE--and slaughter him. Chase him, never give him the opportunity to look behind him, force him into obstacles. Kill him when he stumbles.
Practice, Practice, Practice until all moves are automatic and fear is completely under control. Watch your opponent. Sense when he waivers. Sense when his confidence and morale are fading, even if it is temporary. Always take advantage of one's opponents situation even if the opportunity is fleeting. Never give a sucker an even break. Kill him.
Interestingly, one of Musashi's 'Books'--Fire--concentrates on the battlefield and multiple opponents. Musashi talks of grand and petit stratgies. The implication is that Musashi, himself, must not only have participated in major battles but he must have had a strategic role in them. Then again, maybe not. Perhaps, in terms of major warfare, he was an armchair general who thought to apply his personal style and philosophy of major combat. Too bad General Robert E. Lee never had a chance to read about Musashi's warfare strategies. I'd have like heard what he thought.