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The Art of War: A New Translation by Michael Nylan

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Sun Tzu’s ancient book of strategy and psychology has as much to tell us today as when it was first written 2,500 years ago. In a world forever at odds, his rules for anticipating the motivations and strategies of our competitors never cease to inspire leaders of all kinds. Michael Nylan, in her provocative introduction, sees new and unexpected lessons to be learned from Sun Tzu’s ancient book of strategy and psychology has as much to tell us today as when it was first written 2,500 years ago. In a world forever at odds, his rules for anticipating the motivations and strategies of our competitors never cease to inspire leaders of all kinds. Michael Nylan, in her provocative introduction, sees new and unexpected lessons to be learned from The Art of War—in business ventures, relationships, games of skill, academic careers, and medical practices. Strategy, like conflict is woven into society’s very roots. Nylan’s crisp translation “offers a masterly new evaluation of this classic work, which balances the overtly military content with a profound and thought-provoking analysis” (Olivia Milburn). Readers newly engaging with ancient Chinese culture will be inspired by Nylan’s authoritative voice. Informed by years of scholarly study, Nylan is uniquely placed to introduce readers to Sun Tzu’s classic work through her detailed annotations on culture and the intricacies of translating ancient Chinese into modern English. She proves that Sun Tzu is more relevant than ever, helping us navigate the conflicts we know and those we have yet to endure.


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Sun Tzu’s ancient book of strategy and psychology has as much to tell us today as when it was first written 2,500 years ago. In a world forever at odds, his rules for anticipating the motivations and strategies of our competitors never cease to inspire leaders of all kinds. Michael Nylan, in her provocative introduction, sees new and unexpected lessons to be learned from Sun Tzu’s ancient book of strategy and psychology has as much to tell us today as when it was first written 2,500 years ago. In a world forever at odds, his rules for anticipating the motivations and strategies of our competitors never cease to inspire leaders of all kinds. Michael Nylan, in her provocative introduction, sees new and unexpected lessons to be learned from The Art of War—in business ventures, relationships, games of skill, academic careers, and medical practices. Strategy, like conflict is woven into society’s very roots. Nylan’s crisp translation “offers a masterly new evaluation of this classic work, which balances the overtly military content with a profound and thought-provoking analysis” (Olivia Milburn). Readers newly engaging with ancient Chinese culture will be inspired by Nylan’s authoritative voice. Informed by years of scholarly study, Nylan is uniquely placed to introduce readers to Sun Tzu’s classic work through her detailed annotations on culture and the intricacies of translating ancient Chinese into modern English. She proves that Sun Tzu is more relevant than ever, helping us navigate the conflicts we know and those we have yet to endure.

30 review for The Art of War: A New Translation by Michael Nylan

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ is one of the most talked about books on war or even business strategy. It only took me a few hours to read but it feels like it would take a lifetime to fully understand. There is so much in this book, notable things like ‘one must choose one’s battles’, ‘research, planning, organization and a positive attitude are important to success’, ‘one should observe due diligence’ and ‘embrace change’. Many have used and applied The Art of War into many different aspects of Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ is one of the most talked about books on war or even business strategy. It only took me a few hours to read but it feels like it would take a lifetime to fully understand. There is so much in this book, notable things like ‘one must choose one’s battles’, ‘research, planning, organization and a positive attitude are important to success’, ‘one should observe due diligence’ and ‘embrace change’. Many have used and applied The Art of War into many different aspects of modern art and it is easy to see how it would work in everyday situations. There really isn’t much to say about this book. It’s just a straight-down-the-line book on basic strategy for diplomacy and conflict.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    This is just fantastic. Quite embarrassing that it took me this long to finally get around to reading it - especially considering how worshiped this book was in my business school. There is a reason why this survived the millennia. I can see myself reading through this regularly, considering how short and to the point it is.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rezarta

    The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sylvan Clarke

    One of the most inspiring books I have had the pleasure of reading, detailing true practical concepts on how to approach many situations whether for business or pleasure. The strategies outlined cannot but provide valuable self help guidance for all and is a definite for those looking for a new challenge, those searching for a renewed vision at home or work, those in a competitive business arena or super elite sport. A brilliant interpretation of the stratagems of conflict, i really liked the One of the most inspiring books I have had the pleasure of reading, detailing true practical concepts on how to approach many situations whether for business or pleasure. The strategies outlined cannot but provide valuable self help guidance for all and is a definite for those looking for a new challenge, those searching for a renewed vision at home or work, those in a competitive business arena or super elite sport. A brilliant interpretation of the stratagems of conflict, i really liked the concept of understanding not only yourself but looking at the big picture and understanding others in order to seek the most appropriate course of action. A brilliant easy to read adaptation.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    This is the ultimate handbook in how to prepare, manage and survive warfare in a very readable translation that focuses on the message and not the academics of Sun Tzu's work. Kaufman has used is martial arts knowhow to produce a simple yet effective translation, written without any particular scenario in mind that can be applied to all walks and aspects of life both during times of peace and conflict. The approach of being prepared and considering all aspects of a situation is Sun Tzu's This is the ultimate handbook in how to prepare, manage and survive warfare in a very readable translation that focuses on the message and not the academics of Sun Tzu's work. Kaufman has used is martial arts knowhow to produce a simple yet effective translation, written without any particular scenario in mind that can be applied to all walks and aspects of life both during times of peace and conflict. The approach of being prepared and considering all aspects of a situation is Sun Tzu's principle message and although this is mainly used when preparing for war, any trained in any martial art will be aware that this approach is beneficial no matter what the situation.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Austin J

    Since I was about seven years old, I have been studying various styles of martial arts. With this its various mentalities and teachings have become a part of me, but I wanted to learn more. These books depict the more mental and insightful aspect of it all.

  7. 5 out of 5

    R Reddy

    Book covers mostly how a war is done. Did not understand how this book is in the Business and Strategy genre of books.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Johnny Stone

    Read both of these books on seperate occasions over the years- classics without equal.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nick Woodall

    Great book on the art of war and strategy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nu

    Sun Tzu was able to present how to properly strategise in the most simplistic form. The "Art" of doing so was simply that, art. “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.” These strategies can be applied to almost every aspect of life, not only war. I am amazed and would recommend this to everyone.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bruno Dos

    A Arte da Guerra - Sun Tzu Li da edição que vem na box: “O Essencial da Estratégia”, quem vem junto de dois livros: O Príncipe, de xxx e O Livro dos Cinco Anéis, de xxx. Box da editora xxx. O livro é muito legal pra quem convive nesse meio business. Acredito que pode ajudar muito com quem trabalha com negociações a médio-longo prazo e quem tem um negócio onde possui concorrência. Sao 13 capítulos, onde cada um é um dos ensinamentos de Sun Tzu, todos bem curtos e de leitura rápida. Ouvi dizer que é A Arte da Guerra - Sun Tzu Li da edição que vem na box: “O Essencial da Estratégia”, quem vem junto de dois livros: O Príncipe, de xxx e O Livro dos Cinco Anéis, de xxx. Box da editora xxx. O livro é muito legal pra quem convive nesse meio business. Acredito que pode ajudar muito com quem trabalha com negociações a médio-longo prazo e quem tem um negócio onde possui concorrência. Sao 13 capítulos, onde cada um é um dos ensinamentos de Sun Tzu, todos bem curtos e de leitura rápida. Ouvi dizer que é um bom livro de cabeceira.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Not an entertaining read, but has alot of useful philosophical views on life.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

    Simple, straightforward. I like it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mohamed

    Great book , i really enjoyed every word of it .

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Poetic and informative.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Silvia

    This was really interesting

  17. 5 out of 5

    chrstn

    p. 8 "Compassion must be reserved for those who truly need it, and it must be offered with leniency, not indulgence." "Never try to win someone over by changing your strategy in hopes of befriending them. Hope is nothing more than wishful thinking and must be avoided at all costs: it abrogates definitive purpose and creates false friends who are worse than true enemies. It also brings about flatterers. You must truly believe in your own ideal. Preparations for war cannot be intellectual p. 8 "Compassion must be reserved for those who truly need it, and it must be offered with leniency, not indulgence." "Never try to win someone over by changing your strategy in hopes of befriending them. Hope is nothing more than wishful thinking and must be avoided at all costs: it abrogates definitive purpose and creates false friends who are worse than true enemies. It also brings about flatterers. You must truly believe in your own ideal. Preparations for war cannot be intellectual exercises." p. 9 "Destroy your enemy in any way you can, but never forget that he may have resources as well and may be prepared for your attack. Consider him a fool for self-aggrandizement if it is appropriate, but do not become vain in your estimation of him nor permit yourself to consider him weak-minded, regardless of appearance. Remember, you did not invent war and he may be maintaining his place of power in the same manner that you maintain yours. Never think that he is incapable of destroying you." p. 10 "Insult the enemy with subtlety where and when you can insult him; degrade where and when you can degrade. Offer fool's bait and entice him to display his stupidity. Do something that may appear stupid and capitalize on his arrogance. Insult his children and insult his parents-it will anger him and bring about rash acts. Insult his wife-he physically joins with her and it will force him to focus his rage incorrectly. Insult him directly-as a commander he will be forced to protect his face and attack with less than well-thought-out tactics." p. 31 "If he is unaware of the enemy's strengths but is aware of himself, his chances of victory are evenly matched. If he doesn't know himself and doesn't know the enemy, he is certain to entertain defeat. The ruler should have never picked this man to lead; he is not strong either." p. 38 "If he can think of no other plan of action and truly believes that his cause is just, Heaven, by its very nature, will see his truth and will rush to bring about his dream. This is the nature of the universe. It has no choice but to cooperate with a man of true belief." Book Nine In physical confrontation it is better to have the sun behind your back and in the eyes of the enemy. The enemy is forced to adjust with every move he makes towards you. Attitudes are affected, and disarray will cause the enemy to lose composure and make foolish moves. … It is better to draw the enemy into you by preparing devices that cause him to fail. When drawing the enemy in, be sure to have the sun at your back and the shadows of doubt will fall onto the faces of those approaching you. They will not see clearly and will be more concerned with trying to maintain their calmness before entering battle. … It is important to recognize what it means when the enemy is boisterous and in high spirits but does not attack. If the enemy continues to conduct business in this manner and does not appear to prepare to leave the area, the warlord must investigate thoroughly and gain mastery of the situation immediately. Book Eleven The place of death is the worst of all. It can also be the best of all places to be. … When troops find themselves in the place of death, they will fight without thought. They will fight to protect each other. They will be terrified and they will become demons. They will fight for the glory of the fight itself. When they know they are in this place of death, they will also know they have nothing to lose and will fight with passion. If they win they go home, if they fail they die. There is no middle ground in a place of death. Book Thirteen Without secret operations, a war is a meaningless act of gratuitous violence that does nothing except destroy all the people and all the resources.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Need a flowchart

  19. 5 out of 5

    Khaleel Mughal

    Absolutely spectacular. From the beginning - you start to learn masterclass wisdom that can be applied in many situations. Especially corporate politics. Superb.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kirval

    Valuable lessons even nowadays

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Powe

    The author's fairly prosaic take on the text seems to focus a lot on the relationship between warlord and ruler, rather than the act of organisation of forces. Overall, I think the translation suffers from his focus, and by trying to remove what he sees as ambiguity, he removes a lot of what is worthwhile to ponder in Thomas Cleary's translation. From looking at the afterword, I see that he's done a translation of the Book of Five Rings, as well. I'd be far more interested in his translation of The author's fairly prosaic take on the text seems to focus a lot on the relationship between warlord and ruler, rather than the act of organisation of forces. Overall, I think the translation suffers from his focus, and by trying to remove what he sees as ambiguity, he removes a lot of what is worthwhile to ponder in Thomas Cleary's translation. From looking at the afterword, I see that he's done a translation of the Book of Five Rings, as well. I'd be far more interested in his translation of that work, given that it focuses more on individual struggle, which is relevant to his experience as a martial artist. Overall, not impressed. Not every great warrior is automatically a great writer.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jaisette

    It's a slightly difficult read since it is an interpretation and based on war strategy. It was really important to read the preface...at least for me it was. It helps you get a grasp on the terminology as well as the basis of the location and history he is talking about. There are so many ways to approach a problem. You can apply to most obstacles in your life. Which is perhaps why this book is adapted to relate to careers, business, and other areas. Try to fight in neutral territory. Don't send It's a slightly difficult read since it is an interpretation and based on war strategy. It was really important to read the preface...at least for me it was. It helps you get a grasp on the terminology as well as the basis of the location and history he is talking about. There are so many ways to approach a problem. You can apply to most obstacles in your life. Which is perhaps why this book is adapted to relate to careers, business, and other areas. Try to fight in neutral territory. Don't send in tired troops to battle. Know your enemy skills and advantages. All good lessons...you can apply to any part of your life.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ebony

    I had never read The Art of War so I am glad that I was finally able to read this book that has had such an impact worldwide. I found this translation to be very readable and easy to get through. The text and language is straightforward and on the surface it reads as an instruction for commanders at war but so much of it can be applied to everyday life and the decisions we make. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    I read an earlier translation of this as a youth. This translation is more engaging and readable. I recommend it for fans of older translations and well as anyone that wants universal tips about life, like knowing yourself.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Najla

    As the title suggests, this book is about the art of war and military strategy but it can be applied on almost everything.. Some of the texts are common sense but after all, it is an ancient book with so much wisdom.. Liked it..

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jon Henshaw

    This book has come in handy with my business dealings at my Nashville Web Design company, Sitening http://sitening.com

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chris Hunt

    Forget all the corporate analogy versions. This one is the real deal. Short, concise, wicked.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ankit

    nice

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mohammed Elaghil

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brian

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