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The Art of War [NOOK Book]

Overview

Complexities of meaning and historical interpretations illustrate the timelessness of Sun Tzu's treatise on war.
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The Art of War

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Overview

Complexities of meaning and historical interpretations illustrate the timelessness of Sun Tzu's treatise on war.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This year's crop of Penguin "Great Ideas" volumes offers another eclectic dozen works that shaped society from the ancient Greeks to the 20th century. The books are fairly no frills, but the price isn't bad. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
City Book Review
With editorial notes and a new translation by James Trapp, this beautifully bound book is a must for any strategist or business man, or any everyday man that is looking for tips on how to rise to the top of whatever corporate or social ladder he is climbing.
From the Publisher
“Thomas Cleary’s translation of Sun Tzu’s two-thousand-year-old Art of War makes immediately relevant one of the greatest Chinese classical texts. Absorb this book, and you can throw out all those contemporary books about management leadership.”—Newsweek
From Barnes & Noble
This classic of military strategy includes a detailed introduction & commentary on the history of Chinese warfare & military thought. Includes battle diagrams.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781105759833
  • Publisher: Lulu.com
  • Publication date: 5/14/2012
  • Sold by: LULU PRESS
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,231,740
  • File size: 536 KB

Meet the Author

Sun Tzu, also known as Sun Wu or Sunzi, was an ancient Chinese military strategist believed to be the author of the acclaimed military text, The Art of War. Details about Sun Tzu’s background and life are uncertain, although he is believed to have lived c. 544-496 BCE. Through The Art of War, Sun Tzu’s theories and strategies have influenced military leaders and campaigns throughout time, including the samurai of ancient and early-modern Japan, and more recently Ho Chi Minh of the Viet Cong and American generals Norman Swarzkopf, Jr. and Colin Powell during the Persian Gulf War in the 1990s.

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Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Sun-tzu is the earliest extant strategic book in human history. It is also the most brilliant and widely applied strategic book ever written.

This timeless, invaluable classic has been handed down to us over approximately twenty-four hundred years.' Even its earliest existing version -- the Linyi text -- is about twenty-one hundred years old. Throughout these two millennia, Sun-tzu's compact but rich text has been the authoritative guide for military affairs and political activities primarily in the Far East.

In more modern times, Sun-tzu was translated into French (in 1772 ) and so gradually was introduced to the West. It also has come to be extensively adopted in all areas where problem solving, competition, or development require strategic guidance. Therefore, in addition to its traditional military and political uses, it has naturally become a part of international affairs, global trade, political campaigns, athletic competitions, the management of large or small businesses, and even daily concerns for both profit and success. We therefore may say that Sun-tzu can address something as enormous as a country's existence and the achievement of its military goals, or as modest as a person's satisfaction in life.

THE AUTHOR, SUN WU

Sun-tzu is the book's title, and it also is the author's name; labeling a book after its author was customary in China during the pre-Qin period (before 211 B.C.). From historical records we know that Sun-tzu's given name was Sun Wu, that he was born into a noble clan initially surnamed Chen which lived in the state of Qi, and that he was a youngercontemporary of Confucius. Since the early Zhou Dynasty his ancestors had possessed feudal territory south of the Yellow River; theirs was a small state called Chen, which was later assimilated by the major power, Chu (see the map in Appendix 1).

The state of Chen was filled with political intrigues. In 675 B.C. a political storm in which the heir apparent was murdered swept the state, and this persuaded the princeling Chen Wan to escape to the state of Qi. This princeling was the first generation of Sun Wu's clan to live in Qi.

When Chen Wan was still young, his father, the Lord of Chen, invited a taishi in charge of records and astronomy for the Zhou emperor's court to cast an oracle for his son; this oracle foretold that Chen Wan's descendants would possess a state outside of Chen. Later, when Chen Wan was betrothed, his fiancée's family had the bridal couple's fortunes read, and they were told that their descendants would begin to prosper in the fifth generation, and by the eighth generation they would be without peer.

The Power Struggles of Sun Wu's Ancestors

After the Chen clan immigrated to Qi, its members showed a marked ability for political advancement. The fifth-generation descendant of Chen Wan was named Chen Wuyu, and he ultimately achieved the paramount station of daifu (comparable to a proconsul); this coincided with what had been foretold at his great-great-grandmother's betrothal.

Since the Chen clan rose out of a dangerous environment awash with political machinations, it grew to be adept in cultivating exceptional strategic insight, So, at about the time Chen Wuyu became a daifu, he and his father, Chen Wenzi, sensitively took note of the increasingly serious dissension between the ruling Qing clan of Qi and the other nobles. The father said to his son, "Something is about to happen.... What can we gain from this?" Chen Wuyu obliquely replied, "On the main boulevard of the capital we will be able to secure a hundred carts of the Qing family's lumber." Chen Wenzi warned him to "guard them carefully." (This riddle meant that they would obtain the resources on which the Qing clan's political power was based.)

In the autumn of 545 B.C., the wielder of the Qing clan's political power, Qing Feng, went on a hunt with Chen Wuyu accompanying him as an attendant. Before they arrived at the hunting ground, Chen's father sent him the grievous news that Chen Wuyu's mother was critically ill. Qing's men immediately had a tortoiseshell oracle cast and were given a forewarning of death. Tightly clasping the shell in both of his hands, Chen Wuyu wept, and Qing Feng therefore allowed him to return. On his way back, though, Chen Wuyu destroyed all of the boats and bridges, thereby cutting off Qing Feng's return route. And upon his arrival, the Chen clan instantly allied itself with the enemies of the Qing clan.

Before long, the Lord of Qi held the autumnal sacrifices. While the Qing clan still remaining in the capital guarded the shrine, the Chens and their allies sent in their own grooms to sing at the festivities. As the hours passed, the Qing men took off their armor, tethered their horses, drank wine, and enjoyed the entertainment. When the time was ripe, the Chens and their allies swiftly stole all of the armor and weapons, then slew the entire Qing family. The Chen clan thereupon began its climb to become the most politically influential in all of Qi.

Chen Wuyu had three sons: Kai, Qi, and Shu. The surname Sun was conferred upon the third son, Chen Shu, because of his military accomplishments; he became Sun Wu's father. The three sons of Chen Wuyu all gained considerable experience as battle commanders, in addition to their political seasoning.

The second son, Chen Qi, was the most adept of the three at political intrigue; he was the one his father and grandfather relied on for realizing their plans to seize power in Qi. Since ancient times those who have lusted after power typically have been ruthless -- they have cared nothing for bonds or relationships -- so we can imagine how fragile the family ties of these three Chen brothers must have been.

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Table of Contents

Preface 11
A Note on the Translation and Pronunciation 21
Chronology of Approximate Dynastic Periods 25
General Introduction and Historical Background 29
Introduction 77
The Art of War in Translation 163
1 Initial Estimations 165
2 Waging War 171
3 Planning Offensives 175
4 Military Disposition 181
5 Strategic Military Power 185
6 Vacuity and Substance 189
7 Military Combat 195
8 Nine Changes 201
9 Maneuvering the Army 205
10 Configurations of Terrain 211
11 Nine Terrains 217
12 Incendiary Attacks 225
13 Employing Spies 229
Tomb Texts and Lost Writings 235
Notes to the General Introduction and Historical Background 249
Selected Notes to the Introduction 275
Notes to the Translation 301
Notes to the Tomb Texts and Lost Writings 331
Selected Bibliography 337
Glossary 351
Index 363
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 635 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(257)

4 Star

(141)

3 Star

(108)

2 Star

(47)

1 Star

(82)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 634 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2011

    Get it free

    This book and many other classics are free from "Project Gutenburg" on various ebook formats.

    25 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2010

    Review of Sun Tzu

    This concise and compact version of Sun Tzu is printed entirely in a "bullet format" which makes it very readable and enhances the understanding of ancient principles of war that are applicable in everyday life. Mr. Giles has published two versions of Sun Tzu's writings into this single book. The first section is a purist version with no interjections and an additional bonus version that incorporates translations and viewpoints of ancient Chinese masters of war.

    19 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2011

    Very poorly formatted

    The Art of War is an excellent book-when it's in a readable format. This is NOT the format to choose.

    10 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 7, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Very Interesting

    The first time that I ever heard of Sun Tzu was on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and to be honest I thought Sun Tzu was a fictional character. Turns out that its not, and the Art of War is a very real work. Its a very interesting read, and this book is used by the military, and even in the business world.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 17, 2011

    like the text, hate the formatting

    Very interesting historical text that can be extrapolated to fit many modern contemporary situations, however, I found it hard to read this particular version because the formatting was so poor. The footnotes made the text hard to read and often it was hard to tell where the footnote began and the text resumed.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Must Have

    on every bookshelf. Brilliant read.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

    Too much commentary

    While the wisdom of Sun Tzu remains infallible throughout the ages, the commentary of Lionel Giles is asinine, unwanted, and unavoidable in this edition of Art of War. Mixed in with the translation of the original text, Giles' notations are unneeded at best, but are distracting and then irritating most of the time as they disrupt the flow of Sun Tzu's counsel.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2005

    I love this book!!!

    This an excellent book that I have found myself applying its strategies, tactical dispositions, or whatever you want to call them in both my professional and personal lives. I think everyone should have a copy of this book in their briefcase and/or book bag.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2012

    On the whole, not a bad copy........

    Preserves and present the original text nicely, but could do without the definitions that interupt the flow of the text.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2011

    Timeless Advice, Enjoyable Read

    The Art of War is a military classic, written around 400 BC. However, because the maxims contained in the book are so succinct and universal, this is still a useful book for understanding and waging war today. The central themes are to attack where the enemy is weak, deceive the enemy into attacking you on your terms (not his), and the use of espionage to confuse the enemy while gathering information for your own use.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2012

    The art or war

    I knew that the book wuld be realy good but I wasn't expecting it to be this good

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2012

    Demigod person

    I think it is very useful. If the trojans had it they just might have won the war.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

    Good

    Just confusing but i am also 13

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2011

    Its just complicated

    I feel like it is imposible to read but yet ver interesting. Its complicated

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    Written 2500 years ago, but still relevant today!

    I was expecting a difficult read, but this was not the case. The annotations are very helpful and interesting, particularly in putting things into historical perspective. Very relevant to the actions in Afganhistan and Iraq today. Although this is mandatory reading for military academy graduates, you can see from current news stories how the deviation from the principles laid out in this work lead to defeat and unnessary loss of life. Perhaps it should be mandatory reading for our Commanders-in-Chief also! I highly recommend this to anyone interested in the military affairs of our country looking for an understanding of why the current wars proceed as they do. To our civilian leaders, this book says "Let the professionals fight the war! Follow their advice! Set policy, then keep your hands off!" Otherwise, don't get involved!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2012

    Highly recommended.

    Chinese is a very ancient language and is quite context-sensitive. This makes good translations to English difficult and two different translations of the same work in Chinese may come very different in English. The Denma Group has done an excellent translation of this ancient Chinese work making it quite understandable and east to read in English.

    Sun Tzu may have been one of the earliest professional soldiers to actually think about their trade and has come up with some valuable insights about conflict and war in general. Most people who are interested in this work will benefit greatly from having a copy of this translation in their library.

    A number of essays are included showing how the Denma Group has come to this particular translation and, also the huge amount of effort they have put into it. I own four different translations of the Art of War and this is the one that I carry on my e-reader.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2012

    SUKY

    This book sucks it big horible ripoff

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2012

    Very useful

    He was even more of a genius with strategy than Alexander the great!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2012

    Not good

    Half the book is about if sun zo rilly exsisted

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 8, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Good translation; Okay commentaries; Skip the introduction

    A lot of people read The Art of War to gain insight into business competition, inter-personal conflict, etc. Personally, I think it is most interesting as an actual treatise on warfare, statecraft, and tactics as originally intended. Comparing the tactics and outcome of various battles and wars (past and present) to Sun Tzu's advice demonstrates that he generally knew what he was talking about and many (most?) of his principles still hold true.

    This translation made a serious effort to preserve the ambiguities present in the original, giving it a much more Eastern flavor than some older translations. I can't vouch for translation accuracy since I can't read the original, but Cleary at least sounds a bit more authentic than Giles (the "classic" English translation).

    The commentary sections sometimes gave insight into how "Master Sun" was understood by others over the next few centuries, but sometimes it was just a tedious unimaginative rephrasing of the original. On your first reading of The Art of War skip the commentary; it breaks up the flow of thought. (Also, don't bother with the 60 page intro unless you really want to hear the translator pontificate about Taoism for 50 pages while saying nothing that you can't pick up from the book itself)

    If you are interested in diplomacy, espionage, military tactics, etc. this is definitely a great read. Next time you watch a war movie or play a conquer-the-world type game you'll find yourself thinking in terms of The Art of War.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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