The 33 Strategies of War

Robert Greene, Joost Elffers

Publisher: Profile, 2006, 474 pages

ISBN: 1-86197-993-2

Keywords: Strategy

Last modified: Aug. 4, 2021, 1:36 p.m.

From bestselling author Robert Geene comes a brilliant distillation of the strategies of war that can help us gain mastery in the modern world. Greene's first two groundbreaking guides, The 48 Laws of Power and The Art of Seduction, espouse profound, timeless lessons from the events of history to help readers vanquish an enemy or ensnare an unsuspecting victim. Now, with The 33 Strategies of War, Greene has crafted an important new addition to this ruthless and unique series.

Spanning world civilizations, synthesizing dozens of political, philosophical, and religious texts and thousands of years of violent conflict, The 33 Strategies of War is a comprehensive guide to the subtle social game of everyday life informed by the most ingenious and effective military principles in war. Structured in Greene's trademark style, The 33 Strategies of War is the I Ching of conflict, the contemporary companion to Sun-tzu's The Art of War. Abundantly illustrated with examples from history, including the genius and folly of everyone from Napoleon to Margaret Thatcher, Shaka the Zulu to Lord Nelson, Hannibal to Ulysses S. Grant, as well as captains of industry, Samurai swordsmen, and diplomats, each of thirty-three chapters outline a strategy that will help you win life's war.

Learn the offensive strategies that require you to maintain the initiative and negotiate from a position of strength or the defensive strategies designed to help you to respond to dangerous situations and avoid unwinnable wars. And learn the importance of the element of surprise, of employing and shielding yourself from strategies that are not just unconventional but unapologetically dirty.

The great warriors of the battlefields and drawing rooms alike demonstrate prudence, agility, balance and calm, and a keen understanding that the rational, resourceful, and intuitive always defeat the panicked, the uncreative, and the stupid. An indispensable book, The 33 Strategies provides all the psychological ammunition you need to overcome patterns of failure and forever gain the upper hand.

  • Part I: Self-Directed Warfare
    1. Declare War on Your Enemies: The Polarity Strategy
    2. Do Not Fight the Last War: The Guerrilla-War-of-the-Mind Strategy
    3. Amidst the Turmoil of Events, Do Not Lose Your Presence of Mind: The Counterbalance Strategy
    4. Create a Sense of Urgency and Desperation: The Death-Ground Strategy
  • Part II: Organizational (Team) Warfare
    1. Avoid the Snares of Groupthink: The Command-and-Control Strategy
    2. Segment Your Forces: The Controlled-Chaos Strategy
    3. Transform Your War Into a Crusade: Morale Strategies
  • Part III: Defensive Warfare
    1. Pick Your Battles Carefully: The Perfect-Economy Strategy
    2. Turn the Tables: The Counterattack Strategy
    3. Create a Threatening Presence: Deterrence Strategies
    4. Trade Space for Time: The Nonengagement Strategy
  • Part IV: Offensive Warfare
    1. Lose Battles But Win the War: Grand Strategy
    2. Know Your Enemy: The Intelligence Strategy
    3. Overwhelm Resistance with Speed and Suddenness: The Blitzkrieg Strategy
    4. Control the Dynamic: Forcing Strategies
    5. Hit Them Where It Hurts: The Center-of-Gravity Strategy
    6. Defeat Them in Detail: The Divide-and-Conquer Strategy
    7. Expose and Attack Your Opponent's Soft Flank: The Turning Strategy
    8. Envelop the Enemy: The Annihilation Strategy
    9. Maneuver Them Into Weakness: The Ripening-for-the-Sickle Strategy
    10. Negotiating While Advancing: The Diplomatic-War Strategy
    11. Know How to End Things: The Exit Strategy
  • Part V: Unconventional (Dirty) Warfare
    1. Weave a Seamless Blend of Fact and Fiction: Misperception Strategies
    2. Take the Line of Least Expectation: The Ordinary-Extraordinary Strategy
    3. Occupy the Moral High Ground: The Righteous Strategy
    4. Deny Them Targets: The Strategy of the Void
    5. Seem to Work for the Interests of Others While Furthering Your Own: The Alliance Strategy
    6. Give Your Rivals Enough Rope to Hang Themselves: The One-Upmanship Strategy
    7. Take Small Bites: The Fait Accompli Strategy
    8. Penetrate Their Minds: Communication Strategies
    9. Destroy From Within: The Inner-Front Strategy
    10. Dominate While Seeming to Submit: The Passive-Aggression Strategy
    11. Sow Uncertainty and Panic Through Acts of Terror: The Chain-Reaction Strategy


The 33 Strategies of War

Reviewed by Roland Buresund

OK ***** (5 out of 10)

Last modified: Feb. 23, 2010, 10:58 p.m.

Not bad per se, as it contains a lot of small history lessons (and some factual errors) as well as some discussions, but it utterly lacks a focus, nay a soul.

It is well written, but it is too much without having a guiding storyline.

Fun to have, and read once a year, though, but only of you're into history (non-business, that is).


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