I am planning to buy "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu (in English translation) but I've found versions of 90 pages, 170 pages and 200 pages. What is the difference between these versions? Is there a standard version or a comprehensive translation?
The original Art of War is composed of slightly over 6000 Chinese characters. In translation, the average English version clocks in at 10,000 words, about the length of an in-depth New Yorker magazine article. Differences in various translators book lengths are primarily due to how much supplementary information they provide along with the original text. Some, like Sawyer and Ames provide lengthy introductions and textual notes. Others like Denma and Minford republish the original text but then add extracts from the various historical commentators who have opined on the work over the centuries. Preferred translations, obviously, are subjective, but I think the Ames, Sawyer or Mair versions are good. Minford has the shortest translation (about 7300 words) so is closest to reading it in the original Chinese, but be advised that this makes the text more difficult to comprehend for the modern reader. Just be sure to avoid the translations by Gary Gagliardi and Colin Thorne as they are hacks who clearly don’t understand how to translate Classical Chinese script.