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Summary

Setting down his thoughts on swordplay, on winning, and on spirituality, legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi intended this modest work as a guide for his immediate disciples and future generations of samurai. He had little idea he was penning a masterpiece that would be eagerly devoured by people in all walks of life centuries after his death.

Along with The Art of War by Sun Tzu, The Book of Five Rings has long been regarded as an invaluable treatise on the strategy of winning. Musashi's timeless advice on defeating an adversary, throwing an opponent off-guard, creating confusion, and other techniques for overpowering an assailant was addressed to readers of earlier times on the battlefield and now serves the modern listener in the battle of life.

In this new rendering by the translator of Hagakure and The Unfettered Mind, William Scott Wilson adheres rigorously to the 17th-century Japanese text and clarifies points of ambiguity in earlier translations. In addition, he offers an extensive introduction and a translation of Musashi's rarely published The Way of Walking Alone.

©2002 William Scott Wilson (P)2010 Tantor

Critic reviews

"On Wall Street, when Musashi talks, people listen." ( Time)

What listeners say about The Book of Five Rings

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Interesting listen

Really enjoyed this book. The narration was good, especially considering its a translation, and the story is very interesting.

2 people found this helpful

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A good way

It is inspiring to me to think about training and hear this over and over again. I do miss a good friend who moved away. He would have enjoyed practicing the true way with me.

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5 star

really intresting listen, wise words for any combat athlete to consider, narration was ok, I would have preferred for a last samuria style narration.

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Ancient wisdom

This book undoubtedly contains deep ancient wisdom of approaches to combat and swordsmanship which can be difficult to follow at times, or to decipher what is being suggested. I came away thinking it would be far better to read the book in the traditional manner as I'm sure it would provide visual demonstrations of the concepts being discussed. One phrase I will undoubtedly take away from this book is "You should practice this thoroughly" as it is repeated to the extent of being a little irritating; to me at least.

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Great Martial artist book

A great book if you want to learn more of the individual and how he thought of martial arts

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struggled with the narration very monotone

book is great although a physical copy is probably better the narration however I found quite monotone so hard to finish in one sitting

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Classic book for martial artists

If you could sum up The Book of Five Rings in three words, what would they be?

Budo, budo & budo

What did you like best about this story?

If you are not a martial artist or have little interest in the martial arts this is not for you. However, every martial artist will find a mind set and pattern that should be all to familiar to them. The authors instruction is simple but direct without any subtle backgrounds that you have to try and fathom. Whilst the exact details focus very specifically on Musashi's own sword style the message being put across is applicable to all martial arts....

Which character – as performed by Scott Brick – was your favourite?

There is only one character

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

N/A

Any additional comments?

The initial introduction is a little long and drawn out in my opinion and seems to last longer than the actual book itself. I personally enjoyed the narrators voice as it added to the age of the book putting it in context to the time of it's writing

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  • Carey Lucas
  • 30-01-21

DO NOT Listen to David P. Grange's Review

It is clear that he skipped the forward, or he would realize how ignorant his statement about the translator is. William Scott Wilson isn't some "western elitist" (whatever that means). He is a master linguist and historian who was granted access to one of the original copies of this work by the Soke of Musashi's own surviving Niten Ichi-ryu school. He had extensive help and guidance from non-western, non-elitists to complete this work, which took up a major chunk of his life to complete. Even the most famous translations of A Book of Five Rings did not come from the source material that he had access to. This is a pure gem of a book for us lucky readers and history/martial arts enthusiasts. Wilson's focus on translating the semantics of the original papers is a work of dedication and passion that literally distills down to he and his co-writers writing notes on "untranslatable puns" that Musashi made (as just one example), in order to help the reader better understand Musashi's mindset and nuance - not just the raw words or a direct and watered down English translation. He explains the approach to translating this work in such detail STRICTLY FOR all the people like David out there - though, as we all can plainly see, it's a fruitless effort. I've read several different versions of this masterpiece, and this has by far been my personal favorite, mainly due to all the detailed work that was put into allowing us laymen and non-Japanese speakers to understand tiny morsels of information we may have missed otherwise. Form whatever opinion you like; this review is just my own opinion, afterall. But don't pass on this wonderful book strictly based on guys like David's ignorance, impatience, and his own brand of elitism.

21 people found this helpful

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  • David P Grange
  • 04-04-20

When you get to Musashi's writings it gets good.

The voiceover fit the writings well. My only turnoff for this book is that it starts with a 30 minute introduction from some Westerner saying what he believe Musashi meant to say/was thinking when the 5 rings were originally written. The "short" introduction is longer than some of the chapters from Musashi's actual writings. I'm not interested in the opinions of some self-important elitist trying to proclaim his theories as actual facts. Just get to what I was actually wanting to read about.

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  • Jlb
  • 29-11-16

Great guide for a great mindset

Great work, it is quite short though. A lot of the information you will have to investigate thoroughly elsewhere. However, he does put you on the right course for a winning mind set. Really insight into the mind of a man who won over 60 life and death fights.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Joshua
  • 30-06-16

The book of the five rings

You should investigate this thoroughly study this in great detail. Put it to practice daily

4 people found this helpful

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  • Angelica Hall
  • 17-02-16

An excellent audio book! Will listen again!

A great audio book that's short but containing practical information. Something to review multiple times. Good book!

4 people found this helpful

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  • NGz
  • 14-04-12

A classic must read

Would you listen to The Book of Five Rings again? Why?

Yes, anyone into martial arts or philosophy.

Any additional comments?

If you read books like "Art of War" then you need this one in your collection as well.

5 people found this helpful

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  • P V
  • 13-02-12

The way of all things.

If you could sum up The Book of Five Rings in three words, what would they be?

Exactly as hoped.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Book of Five Rings?

The introduction of the book by the original author, Musashi.

Have you listened to any of Scott Brick’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no idea

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I listened to it 5 times allready, I am sure I will do so again.

Any additional comments?

A marvelous book that I without a doubt will also buy in print. The performance of Scot Brick was excellent, clearly understandable and with good pronouncement, at least as far as I understand it (I do not speak japanese).

7 people found this helpful

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  • Sierra
  • 03-01-20

perfect for the martial artist and strategist

I loved the book read it many times and now very happy to have it on audio, although I like the voice of the one on YouTube better.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Luis Arizmendi
  • 19-03-15

Great for disciplining the mind

Though I may not practice anything with a sword this translation of musashis' "book of five rings" helped sharpen my hand to hand skills and organized my dad to day life by learning such rhythms.

1 person found this helpful

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  • ido kanner
  • 09-09-21

the art of war by Musashi

The book provide concept on how Musashi won his battles and what a warrior should learn and investigate in order to be amazing at what that warrior does - fighting.