Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Study Of Chinese Art

So, I finished my last book, Larry Elder's Ten Things You Can't Say In America, and was looking for something lighter. I usually try to put an easier fiction book as a breather between some of the more detailed reading.

I was getting fitted for a tux at that event I mentioned earlier and found myself talking to the man taking the measurements. For some reason we got to talking about books and he mentioned that he was reading Sun Tzu's The Art Of War. It reminded me that the centuries-old text is still revered and it should be on my shelf. He also mentioned that the biggest problem with the book is the translation as some very bad versions came out early on.

I was persuaded to check online to find the best translation before buying it. This was extremely difficult to do so I gave up and stumbled around at Barnes & Noble for awhile. I was shown the section with the books and then I asked the customer service person about the translations. After thinking about it for awhile, she led me to a section of Barnes & Noble Classics. Yes, the chain actually prints their own versions of some of the classic books in paperback. It makes sense. The company wouldn't want to reprint a bad translation of the book. They'd want to sell the one that might get purchased. This was the Lionel Giles translation.

The one thing I can say (being maybe 20 pages in) is that it is an extremely easy read. The text is separated by sections and numbers (supposedly for student reference) with mainly single and double sentences. This book is going to fly by but I do find it interesting that I should take the enemy's chariot and have my troops use it to demoralize that enemy. Sure, I don't see that working now but it's little things like that and how many pieces of silver it will take to raise an army of 10,000 soldiers that I find dated but intriguing. If anything, it will hold me over until I restart Freakonomics.

5 comments:

Bar Bar A said...

How did you like Larry's book? I listen to him on my drive home from work everyday. In fact, that's where I am headed now.

An80sNut said...

I actually listen to his show each day on my way to work. I just hate how they cut it off early sometimes for hockey, basketball or baseball. Definitely a book worth reading although the subject matter is controversial (racism, gun control, illegitimacy, the war on drugs, party politics, etc.)

Davydgrey said...

Ahhh but I think its the philosophy behind the learning that makes Art of War such a classic...

Vavoom said...

You've got to read "Guns, germs and steel."

Ken said...

That's one of those books I've always wanted to read. Sounds like it isn't as daunting as I thought...