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The Book of Five Rings

Here is one of the most insightful texts on the subtle arts of confrontation and victory to emerge from Asian culture. Written not only for martial artists but for leaders in all professions, the book analyzes the process of struggle and mastery over conflict that underlies every level of human interaction. "The Book of Five Rings "— which has become a well-known classic among American business people, studied for its insights into the Japanese approach to business strategy— was composed in 1643 by the famed duelist and undefeated samurai Miyamoto Musashi. Unlike previous editions of "The Book of Five Rings," Thomas Cleary's is an accessible translation, free of jargon, with an introduction that presents the spiritual background of the warrior tradition. Along with Musashi's text, Cleary translates another important Japanese classic on leadership and strategy: "The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War" by Yagyu Munenori, which highlights the ethical and spiritual insights of Taoism and Zen as they apply to the way of the warrior.
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Thomas Cleary has translated over fifty volumes of Taoist, Confucian and Islamic texts, including "Art of War".

About 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.


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

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