Kristen's Reviews > The Book of Five Rings from SmarterComics

The Book of Five Rings from SmarterComics by Miyamoto Musashi
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's review
Nov 20, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: firstreads, classic, philosophy, nonfiction
Read in November, 2011

This is as good as it gets for an entertaining introduction to a classic text that you know you wouldn't read otherwise.

The Book of Five Rings was a fad/underground classic for businessmen in the 1990s or maybe the early Bush years. To make its lessons work for business, you need to imagine your competitors as your enemies, and your first goal, upon picking up your long sword, is to cut them. A worldview that may or not benefit the world, eh? Other titles from SmarterComics are The Prince, by Machiavelli; The Art of War, by Sun Tzu (I think he's the "shock and awe" guy); and Fortune Favors the Bold, by Franco Arda (SmarterComics' publisher - it's yet to be seen if his name goes into history amid the infamous ranks of Musashi, Machiavelli, and Sun Tzu).

I don't know about you, but I'm seeing a trend here, regarding these messages. Do you think they'll also do Khalil Gibran? How about A Book of Courtesy: the Art of Living with Yourself and Others, by Sister Mary Mercedes? Me either. My brother saw this book and declared that the idea to make a comic from it was "pure genius... with maybe a bit of evil thrown in...."

In any case, the cartoons are well done, crisp and vivid. I'm not sure how the long sword vs. the short sword relates to business (or farming or carpentry), but I'll bet it does, and I intend to get the Cliff Notes at some point, and figure that out.

One especially well done aspects of the book was how Musashi's words were illustrated by drawings of samurai warriors, and then those same few words were illustrated with modern business situations. Not all of them made sense to me, but enough of them did that I have faith that the rest do as well. It's actually a comic book to go back and meditate upon - to take a section, take your questions about it to Wikipedia, and then think about how and if you might apply them (judiciously) to your own life. One of my favorites was the allegory of how you sometimes need to set sail, even though your friends are staying back in a safe harbor. Then comes some advice on what to do should you hit stormy seas, as is likely. In other words, take some risks!

It's not a book for children. Really. Besides being bloody, with warrior's throats being cut, guts impaled upon long swords, and arms getting cut off, it's is not a narrative, but rather a book of philosophy.

I was pleased to see that I'd won this book through a Firstreads giveaway. I received it almost immediately - making me think that the people behind SmarterComics are not only talented but also good business people. Obviously taking the lessons in The Book of Five Rings to heart!
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04/25/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Franco Arda Kristen,
Thank you so much for your detailed review. I'm not sure whether adapting Kahlil Gibran would look great illustrated, but we'll think about it.
Franco, CEO SmarterComics

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