Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Art of War” as Want to Read:
The Art of War
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

The Art of War

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  7,492 ratings  ·  113 reviews
Voltaire said, "Machiavelli taught Europe the art of war; it had long been practiced, without being known." For Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), war was war, and victory the supreme aim to which all other considerations must be subordinated. The Art of War is far from an anachronism—its pages outline fundamental questions that theorists of war continue to examine today, ma ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 5th 2001 by Da Capo Press (first published 1521)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,492 ratings  ·  113 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Art of War
Nov 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
His writings are considered immoral, he teaches you to be appear to be meek as a lamb but deadly as a lion. How to conquer, how to placate, the importance of perception and how it is better to be feared than loved.
Aug 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in military history and strategy
- "Good orders without military help are disordered"
- "A wise questioner makes one considermany things and recognize many others that one would never have recognized without being asked."
- War makes thieves and peace hangs them.
- Aquire fame as able not as good.
- I am esteemed not so much because I understand war as because I also know how to counsel in peace.
- DOn't keep beside you either too great lovers of peace or too great lovers of war.
- A battle that you win cancels any other bad action o
May 19, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The only one of Machiavelli's major works to be published in his lifetime, The Art of War is a survey of Machiavelli's opinions on the composition, employment, and leadership of an army.

I found the introduction to this book by Neal Wood to be illuminating as it connected Machiavelli's views in this book to his other famous political works ( Discourses and The Prince ). It also discussed Machiavelli's sources (most of his examples are from Greek and Roman history, as befitting a Renaissance
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Haven't read this in a while. It's still a great read. There are so many nuances and strategies that can be applied to all aspects of life, not just war, that can make your actions and decisions mutually beneficial for yourself and everyone involved. :)
Joshua Guest
Jun 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
Nothing like Sun Tzu's timeless treatise of the same name. Disappointing.
Aug 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
When most people hear the name Machiavelli, they probably consider him a one trick pony for, "The Prince." In reality, Machiavelli was a prolific writer, but his political treatise overpowers anything else.

"The Art of War" is an interesting discussion of how armies should be armed and organized. The treatise is organized into several "books" and is shown as a discussion between three characters, one of which is Machiavelli. Based on his knowledge of Roman organization, combined with the technolo
Jul 19, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This is a grind. I have read Art of War by Sun Tzu and On War (abridged) by Clausewitz. Both of those were philosophical, and got boring when they got into specific tactics. This book is incredibly boring, as it is almost entirely (obviously antiquated) tactics.

It is also rather poorly written (or perhaps it's just a bad translation?). It is a completely flat writing style, put in the form of a dialogue about war tactics. There is none of the charm, aphorism, or wit seen in his infamous The Pri
P.H. Wilson
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Real rating: 8/10
It is a book on military strategy, not a philosophical tome. Though most works only become philosophical thanks to the retroactive nature of the scholars that come centuries later. One should not fault the work simply because you assumed that the author wrote only in one genre. Would one lambaste Beatrix Potter's early work because they thought her book on mushrooms would be about anthropomorphic ones rather than the scientific nature that it was. That fault lies with the reader
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: work-related
An entertaining reading. In some cases you can think that over past years nothing has changed- most people tend to think that it was easoer to live and to fight in previous centuries.
Greg Brozeit
Machiavelli is, in my view, among the most misunderstood of thinkers. In this series of discourses, he provides some insights into the nature of war and the military that were as profound when he wrote them as they are commonplace today: militias vs. standing armies, preparing for veterans, tying military goals to those of the general welfare.

He also warned of weak “princes” who failed to understand the interconnectivity between the civil and political life and “need only know how to dream up wi
Sep 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Machiavelli thinks that Italy had fallen far behind the rest of Europe in military science and has become the "shame of the world." Italy must rediscover the methods of their ancestors to retain any dignity or even remain free from Spanish, French, or German domination.

If "The Prince" could be boiled down to the question "What would Cesare Borgia do?", this book can be boiled down to "What would the ancient Romans do?" Machiavelli has a few fairly interesting sections discussing the economics o
Ossian's Dream
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As a celebration and explanation of masculine virtues which are still highly applicable today, this book like most of Machiavelli's works is glorious and worthy of reading and re-reading. However, the old time strategy of pike and shot and crappy artillery is obviously tiresome and not very practical, only the description of the officers and the constant focus on the need for efficient teamwork and discipline between units is worth reading.

Also the constant insults against the mediocrity of tho
Isaac Velazquez
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Perspective is everything with this book because the language is a little outdated. Obviously nobodies running around in mobs with pitchforks and swords trying to divide and conquer a nation, while also establishing a new foundational framework for how to sustain peace within said newly conquered land, allocating economic resources and police forces appropriately to the uniquely... blah blah
Im just trying to sound intelligent. In all truth after reading this book I felt like I could take the wo
I struggled with this one - and I suspect it was me, not the book.
It was supposed to be a short book to read in short slots of time over a few days, but work gets busy, those times are not available and it all becomes disjointed.
I couldn't get the flow if this writing, and couldn't extract the useful from the waffle. I know it is there somewhere, I saw it quoted in other reviews... just not this time.

I shall endeavour to re-read, and will improve my review, and no doubt my rating... one day.
Aditya Pandey
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book came as a surprise to me, I was suggested this book by a lot of people and every time I had this one though which raged my mind again and again, which said ,'dude you are a management douchebag, you've nothing to do with this....

Time passes and after reading it approx. 13 times now , I still feel that this is the best management book ever written, Sun Tzu was way ahead of his times and the way he embarked on his journey to raise the best army the history has ever witnessed , he gives y
David Ross
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Too often we in the west are quick to imbue some authors like Sun Tzu with a mystical ability of insight often simply because they are exotic. We forget the majority of the most powerful war machines in history and some of the greatest leaders have come the West. Machiavelli knows not only something of tactics but what makes men fight and win as well as how to know who to fight and when.
Oct 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, fantasy
Structured as a dialogue, is not as easy to read as it is his other work: Il Principe.
Once get used to narrative style, it's a fascinating journey in the sharp mind of this famous Renaissance man.

Note: I read the original Italian version from Project Gutemberg; could not find an Italian edition on GoodReads to review.
Cesar Ruiz
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Much like The Art of War by Sun Tzu, this book also presents useful lessons on strategy that one can widely apply in all areas of life. The wisdom behind it is made clear to the reader, and its most valuable lessons are in how to treat different people.
Ben Conley
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very specific down to minor details about arms, encampment, seiges, etc. Fairly bland sometimes- most of the back and forth sections you can just skim because it’s very wordy and is mostly pleasantries. More enjoyable once it gets rolling into a chapter or subject.
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
While Machiavelli seems unnecessarily obsessed with the Romans, he does give us a valuable lesson in leadership, politics and warfare. An insightful read with many tips that we can utilise in our approach to life.
Arnulfo Perez
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The art of Leadership

Machiavelli gives a detailed account of how lead men and overcome obstacles using cunning, preparation, and planning. He emphasize the importance of propaganda and intelligence on winning wars.
Francisco Vicente
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very good book. Goes well with Sun Tzu's "art of war" and Clausewitz's "on War".
Nov 06, 2017 rated it liked it
The greatest example of plagiarism.
Julian Tambunan
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’m not at any place and don’t have any right to judge or give a review about this book.

If this is the only book exist in the universe......

...... i can’t imagine what our world will become.
Petra Hermans
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Strategy is only a word.
Luas n(mendozaluas10)
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing

I like this book because its content is really original and you can easily understand the grammatical structure used by the author
Jesse Ammon
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
Interesting only in tidbits and mostly from a historical perspective.
Geordan Fisher
May 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Machiavelli is a writer plagued by the mistakes of his past. He has difficulty objectively looking at his mistakes. However, he has an interesting take on politics and warfare. It is worth the read.
Dean M (Vox Poetica)
A very detailed look at ancient and 15th century warfare and tactics. So good. Highly reccomend for history buffs or those interested in warfare and tactics before the proliferation of gunpowder
Sitara Morgenster
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Makes you understand dictators, power and control
« previous 1 3 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Please combine (L’arte della guerra) 3 11 Oct 03, 2019 05:21AM  
i searching the best history book 5 10 Oct 10, 2015 04:29AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Art of War/The Art of Warfare
  • The Art of War
  • On War
  • A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy
  • The Art of War
  • Tao of Jeet Kune Do
  • The 48 Laws of Power
  • Code of the Samurai: A Modern Translation of the Bushido Shoshinshu of Taira Shigesuke
  • Strategy
  • The Art of Seduction
  • The 33 Strategies of War
  • Discourse on the Sciences and Arts and Polemics
  • The Lost Art of War: Recently Discovered Companion to the Bestselling The Art of War
  • In the Name of Rome: The Men Who Won the Roman Empire
  • Parmenides
  • Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai
  • Highcastle: A Remembrance
  • O Poder da Ação
See similar books…
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian political philosopher, musician, poet, and playwright. He is a figure of the Italian Renaissance and a central figure of its political component, most widely known for his treatises on realist political theory (The Prince) on the one hand and republicanism (Discourses on Livy) on the other.

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
11 likes · 4 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Many, Lorenzo, have held and still hold the opinion, that there is nothing which has less in common with another, and that is so dissimilar, as civilian life is from the military. Whence it is often observed, if anyone designs to avail himself of an enlistment in the army, that he soon changes, not only his clothes, but also his customs, his habits, his voice, and in the presence of any civilian custom, he goes to pieces; for I do not believe that any man can dress in civilian clothes who wants to be quick and ready for any violence; nor can that man have civilian customs and habits, who judges those customs to be effeminate and those habits not conducive to his actions; nor does it seem right to him to maintain his ordinary appearance and voice who, with his beard and cursing, wants to make other men afraid: which makes such an opinion in these times to be very true. But if they should consider the ancient institutions, they would not find matter more united, more in conformity, and which, of necessity, should be like to each other as much as these (civilian and military); for in all the arts that are established in a society for the sake of the common good of men, all those institutions created to (make people) live in fear of the laws and of God would be in vain, if their defense had not been provided for and which, if well arranged, will maintain not only these, but also those that are not well established. And so (on the contrary), good institutions without the help of the military are not much differently disordered than the habitation of a superb and regal palace, which, even though adorned with jewels and gold, if it is not roofed over will not have anything to protect it from the rain. And, if in any other institutions of a City and of a Republic every diligence is employed in keeping men loyal, peaceful, and full of the fear of God, it is doubled in the military; for in what man ought the country look for greater loyalty than in that man who has to promise to die for her? In whom ought there to be a greater love of peace, than in him who can only be injured by war? In whom ought there to be a greater fear of God than in him who, undergoing infinite dangers every day, has more need for His aid? If these necessities in forming the life of the soldier are well considered, they are found to be praised by those who gave the laws to the Commanders and by those who were put in charge of military training, and followed and imitated with all diligence by others.” 3 likes
“The only chance of life lies in giving up all hope of it.” 3 likes
More quotes…