Summary: This version offers more bang for the buck.
Comment: I have read three versions of The Life Giving Sword. This one is the best. The introduction is very informative. A student of Shinkage Ryu would really appreciate this books introduction. The translation is above average. This book also contains a catalog of Shinkage Ryu Sword techniques in the back. So if you want to read The Life Giving Sword this book will give you more bang for your buck.
Summary: The Best Translation Available
Comment: Of the several English translations available, I think this is the best. Each version is formatted slightly differently, but I find this version the most readable.Bushido: The Way of the Samurai (Square One Classics)
Comment: I give this book five stars simply because I love it. For anyone who finds Miyamoto Musashi's book a little hard to fathom at first, then maybe you could start with this.
I have a number of translations by William Scott Wilson, the most recent being 'The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts', I love them all and have to say that I prefer his translations over any other.
Summary: A classical text
Comment: Munenori's book is a classic work of Japanese literature that explores the Way of the sword through what we in the west might call a philosphical approach. Yet, I don't think the distinction between the physical style and philosophical approach would be seperate categories to Munenori. His book sets out to present the Way as a total approach of mind, body, and spirit, and not merely the development of each independently. Reading the book in any other way will probably make it fairly disappointing.
The other thing to remember about this book is its a classic by one of the most influential sword instructors of his era. In that respect, the book is rich with perspective on early 17th century Japanese culture. Particularly interesting are the reprinted plates in the back of the book showing the original inked pages of technique.
As other viewers pointed out, this is not a book for someone simply learning to wield a sword. Instead, Munenori's book is a fascinating account of swordsmanship that gives the reader insight not only to the richness of the Way, but also wonderful insight on a fascinating historical figure. Highly recommended for those interested in Japanese culture, history of samurai, and the feudal era.
Summary: Giving life to the sword
Comment: Anyone who looks to a book to learn how to swing a sword will forever be disappointed. Those of us who have actually taken the time train in the sword know that direct transmition is the only way (yes, the schools still exist -- go find one).
What this book presents (along with some very good subtle sword pointers) is the proper mental attitude you must gain in order to progress on the path. Mr. Wilson does a wonderful job translating a difficult text. If you are serious about sword, get this book AND go find a teacher ...