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For many Japanophiles, Miyamoto Musashi’s celebrated “The Book of Five Rings” is the classic text that inspired a lifelong appreciation of “the way” — and for good reason. Musashi, the legendary 17th-century swordsman, authored the book in the last years of his life, expanding his “two heavens as one” double-sword strategies into a complete life philosophy — a treatise on strategic thinking applicable to any discipline.

Still a best-seller today, the 2012 translation by William Scott Wilson is particularly beautiful, keeping the sparse elegance of Musashi’s voice while providing historical background on the man and the context of his writings in knowledgeable depth. It is also illustrated by noted Japanese ceramic artist and painter Shiro Tsujimura.

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