The Art of War
Sun-Tzu, tr. John Minford
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Buy *The Art of War (Penguin Great Ideas)* by Sun-Tzu, tr. John Minford online

The Art of War (Penguin Great Ideas)
Sun-Tzu, tr. John Minford
112 pages
May 2006
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars
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'Know the enemy,
Know yourself,
And victory
Is never in doubt,
Not in a hundred battles.'
This is the way that John Minford translates possibly the most famous passage in The Art of War. The small book has been used by generals planning battle, businessmen planning hostile takeovers, politicians planning their campaigns, and everyone in between. It's the most used and most widely known strategy book in existence.

Naturally, there are passages that don't relate directly to modern times or even modern warfare. Nobody uses spears and bucklers in large-scale war anymore. But the basic thoughts about strategy are just as valid today and will continue to be as long as people insist on playing power games. However, the book can't give tips for modern times; that is for readers to mine from it themselves.

Most of Sun-Tzu's advice is quite simple, but clearly we need to be reminded of the basics from time to time. The book is more a philosophy on life than a guide to war; people attracted to Eastern philosophy will quite likely get the most out of it.

Minford's new translation is in a poetic form, but the words used aren't ambiguous; they make the thoughts quite clear. However, those expecting even a few words about the times when the book was written are in for a disappointment; none are offered, and the are no translation notes. This Penguin Great Ideas version of The Art of War is small with a striking white cover.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Mervi Hamalainen, 2006

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