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Art of War, The

Product no.: 978-1590302255
Compiled more than two thousand years ago by a mysterious warrior-philosopher, The Art of War is still perhaps the most prestigious and influential book of strategy in the world.

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Publisher's Synopsis

As a study of the anatomy of organizations in conflict, The Art of War applies to competition and conflict in general, on every level from the interpersonal to the international. Its aim is invincibility, victory without battle, and unassailable strength through understanding the physics, politics, and psychology of conflict.

Translated from a standard collection of commentaries on Sun Tzu's text by eleven interpreters, the work has been edited by Thomas Cleary, to bring out the meaning of the principles of strategy. In addition, the translator provides an extensive introduction discussing the content and background of the book.

"Thomas Cleary's translation of Sun Tzu's 2,000-year-old The Art of War makes immediately relevant one of the greatest Chinese classical texts. There's not a dated maxim or vague prescription in it. 'To win without fighting is best,' Sun Tzu said. For him, war was coeval with life. Absorb this book, and you can throw out all those contemporary books about management leadership."      ~Newsweek

"In the world of strategy books, a milestone was reached in 1988 when Dr. Thomas Cleary published his translation and interpretation of The Art of War. Cleary redefined the military treatise by linking it to Taoist thought found in classics like the I Ching and Tao Te Ching. He purposefully highlighted 'a profound undercurrent of humanism' to the often misunderstood book on warfare. Most Sun Tzu scholars have followed these viewpoints ever since."


"In my opinion, the importance of understanding the Taoist element of The Art of War can hardly be exaggerated. Not only is this classic of strategy permeated with the ideas of great Taoist works such as the I Ching (The Book of Changes) and the Tao-te Ching (The Way and Its Power), but it reveals the fundamentals of Taoism as the ultimate source of all the traditional Chinese martial arts. Furthermore, while The Art of War is unmatched in its presentation of principle, the keys to the deepest levels of practice of its strategy depend on the psychological development in which Taoism specializes.

The enhanced personal power traditionally associated with application of Taoist mental technology is in itself a part of the collective power associated with application of the understanding of mass psychology taught in The Art of War. What is perhaps most characteristically Taoist about The Art of War in such a way as to recommend itself to the modern day is the manner in which power is continually tempered by a profound undercurrent of humanism.

Throughout Chinese history, Taoism has been a moderating force in the fluctuating currents of human thought and action. Teaching that life is a complex of interacting forces, Taoism has fostered both material and mental progress, both technological development and awareness of the potential dangers of that very development, always striving to encourage balance between the material and spiritual sides of humankind.

Similarly, in politics Taoism has stood on the side of both rulers and ruled, has set kingdoms up and has torn kingdoms down, according to the needs of the time. As a classic of Taoist thought, The Art of War is thus a book not only of war but also of peace, above all a tool for understanding the very roots of conflict and resolution."     ~Preface

Thomas Cleary holds a PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University and a JD from the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. He is the translator of over fifty volumes of Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, and Islamic texts from Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese, Pali, and Arabic.

Editor Cleary, Thomas
Author Tzu, Sun
Translator Cleary, Thomas
Book Type Mass Market Paperback
Page Count 224 pp.
Publisher Shambhala Publications 2005
Gold Medal

Gold Medal



  Gold Medal Essential Reading

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