A Book of Five Rings: The Strategy of Musashi
Published in 1643
Thibault’s Score: 4/5
Miyamoto Musashi was a famous Japanese swordsman, martial artist, and philosopher. He was an adventurer and travelled the world seeking fame and fortune. During his journeys across feudal Japan, he allegedly fought fought and won more than 60 duels over the course of his life. Eventually, he decided to write a short book summarizing the lessons he had learned from his numerous victories and adventures.
His style of writing is distinctly medieval and Asian, exempli gratia his references to society as a collection of craftsmen, nobles, merchants, and warriors. A lot of the advice centers around how to carry swords, and the differences between longswords, halberds, bows, and shortswords (or as he calls them, companion swords). A lot of the book is very specific to swordsmanship, although the author does allude that, in a roundabout way, there is also a metaphorical value to this form of combat.
The strategies are all very unique to ancient warfare, both on an individual level and on a large scale. I recommend this book to historians of ancient Japan, people interested in strategy, or those studying ancient warfare.
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