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The Art of War: A New Translation by Michael Nylan Hardcover – January 7, 2020

4.5 out of 5 stars 155 ratings

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From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews


"Each sentence is a struck match…[Nylan's] translation is insightful and alert."
Dwight Garner, New York Times

"I consumed Professor Nylan’s edition of The Art of War in one sitting! Sun Tzu has been so often translated that we run the risk of forgetting just how gripping and remarkable his little book is. The most impressive thing about the Nylan translation is its total lack of complacency―it’s the sharpest and most uncompromising English-language rendition of this book I've ever read."
Steve Donoghue, managing editor, Open Letters Monthly

"Michael Nylan’s translation is marvelous. The pithiness of certain parts of the text, its aphoristic quality, presents an exceptionally difficult challenge. Because Nylan has a deep understanding of the social and cultural milieu that produced Sun Tzu’s treatise, she has created an English-language version that is accessible while retaining the literary beauty of the original. Her introduction and supporting materials are very helpful to the reader, and I would expect that this version will become the standard one in the field."
Dennis Washburn, translator of The Tale of Genji

"Michael Nylan’s masterful translation of The Art of War brings historical depth to our understanding of the classic and also illuminates its broad significance for our world today."
Waiy-yee Li, professor of Chinese literature, Harvard University

About the Author

Michael Nylan is a professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work includes?The Art of War?and China’s Early Empires with Michael Loewe,?Yang?Xiong?and the Pleasures of Reading and Classical Learning in China, The Five “Confucian” Classics,?Lives of Confucius with Thomas A. Wilson, and several essays on feminism and Confucianism.

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ W. W. Norton & Company; Translation edition (January 7, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 160 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1324004894
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1324004899
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 1150L
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 7.9 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 4.8 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 155 ratings

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
155 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on January 27, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on February 19, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on February 5, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on March 10, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on January 31, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on April 23, 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars A few grains of truth in a lot of chaff
By B. Chandler on April 23, 2021
Today many of Sun Tzu's quotas are floating around mixed with Shakespeare and the Bible. And as with many of the quotes they are out of context and misleading. The quoter usually thinks repeating the word is some sort of magic.

Most versions of this work spend more time trying to identify and qualify Sun Tzu's writings than just quoting them. I will not go through all the arguments as to who "wrote what when" or "translated what when" as you can read this for yourself.
Another distraction is the attempt to show how the book was applied or not applied in recent wars. This may be interesting to someone whose intention is to apply the theories of Sun Tzu; however, it is not his writing but someone else's interpretation of its application.

Now let's finally get to Sun Tzu. It is easy with hindsight and a closer look at the future to dismiss Sun Tzu as his practical tactical knowledge is of a time and place long gone. He spends a lot of time on the use of weapons and information gathering techniques of the time. This can be interesting in a historical context; otherwise, it is quite amusing.

Oh yes, those grains of truth I mentioned, well they may sound like clichés but they are still viable. "Know your enemy and know yourself". Others are just practical sense and statistical outcomes that you learn in any military training. I could go through the list, but again that is why you buy the book.

Now just as you decide that the book is outdated for any practical purposes today, we have artillery and now stealth and precision, the reminder that "no two wars are alike" and "it is the flexibility that makes a difference" is being shown today to still be true. Even in today's wars, there is a need for good intelligence and deception. We put a lot of time and energy into Psy-Ops. Sun Tzu shows the advantage of specialized units and “crack troops.”

I have spent several years in the military and business and can say this book is a nice addition to history, otherwise of very little value to today's world for war or business.

The most abuse of this book is trying to use it for projects as project management is a science that that was in its infancy at the time this book was written.
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M. M. Bennett
5.0 out of 5 stars What do you want to know?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 27, 2020
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