The Book of Five Rings: The Classic Text on Strategy

Overview

Setting down his thoughts on swordplay, on winning, and on spirituality, legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi intended this modest work as a guide for his immediate disciples and future generations of samurai. He had little idea he was penning a masterpiece that would be eagerly devoured by people in all walks of life centuries after his death.

Along with The Art of War by Sun Tzu, The Book of Five Rings has long been regarded as an invaluable treatise on the strategy of ...

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Overview

Setting down his thoughts on swordplay, on winning, and on spirituality, legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi intended this modest work as a guide for his immediate disciples and future generations of samurai. He had little idea he was penning a masterpiece that would be eagerly devoured by people in all walks of life centuries after his death.

Along with The Art of War by Sun Tzu, The Book of Five Rings has long been regarded as an invaluable treatise on the strategy of winning. Musashi's timeless advice on defeating an adversary, throwing an opponent off-guard, creating confusion, and other techniques for overpowering an assailant was addressed to the readers of earlier times on the battlefield, and now serves the modern reader in the battle of life.

In this new rendering by the translator of Hagakure and The Unfettered Mind, William Scott Wilson adheres rigorously to the seventeenth-century Japanese text and clarifies points of ambiguity in earlier translations. In addition, he offers an extensive introduction and a translation of Musashi's rarely published The Way of Walking Alone. This gift-book edition also features original art by Musashi himself as well as new calligraphy by Japanese artist Shiro Tsujimura.


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 in Nashville, Tennessee, and grew up in Florida. He received B.A. degrees from Dartmouth College and the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies, and an M.A. in Japanese literary studies from the University of Washington. His long-selling translations of Hagakure, The Unfettered Mind, The Roots of Wisdom:
Saikontan, and Taiko have become standards. Hagakure was featured prominently in the film Ghost Dog.

Since the publication of its first English translation in 1974, The Book of Five Rings has become an underground classic in the American business community, where it is studied as a text on Japanese management techniques. Here are timeless principles of craft, skill, timing, and spirit from a great samurai warrior--plus background on Zen, Bushido, Heiho, and Musashi's life. Two color.

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Editorial Reviews

Time
On Wall Street, when Musashi talks, people listen.
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
From Barnes & Noble
Born into strife, Miyamoto Musashi ultimately lived to see his country achieve peace; but he never forgot two essential elements of the ancient samurai tradition: keep calm in the midst of chaos, and remember the possibility of disorder in times of order. Devoted to the practical art of war, his strategic classic The Book of Five Rings focuses attention on the psychology and physics of assault. Whether you are looking to gain the advantage in the practice of martial arts or on the corporate battlefield, this book counsels wisely in the ways of confrontation, stressing important subtleties such as rhythm, state of mind, physical bearing, and eye contact, as well as perseverance, self-knowledge, and inner calm. Thomas Cleary's uncluttered translation brings Musashi's work into sharp, accessible focus, as does the inclusion in the same volume of another important Japanese classic, The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War, highlighting Taoist and Zen aspects of the warrior tradition.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780595230068
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/31/2002
  • Series: The Warrior Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 104
  • Product dimensions: 5.92 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 0.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Miyamoto Musashi, who lived in Japan in the 1600s, was an undefeated dueler, a masterless samurai, and an independent teacher. He spent the last decades of his life refining and teaching his military science.
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Table of Contents

Foreword by William Scott Wilson
Introduction by William Scott Wilson
The Way of Walking Alone
The Book of Five Rings
The Earth Chapter
The Water Chapter
The Fire Chapter
The Wind Chapter
The Emptiness Chapter
Notes
Bibliography
Crest Motifs
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2002

    Awesome!!!!!!

    This is the most awesome, motivating book I have ever read. I know Musashi is usually considered a book on strategy, but I found this translation to be more angled toward personal achievement. You must read this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2002

    Tarver's is the Best

    I have read several copies of Musashi over the years, and always felt I missed something. After reading Tarver¿s Art of War in Plain English, and really enjoying it, I decided to try his version of the Book of Five Rings. Incredible. This writer is the best I have ever read at taking complex issues and philosophical ideas and explaining them in easy to understand terms. If you like Musashi you simply must read this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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