Strategy : A History
by Sir Lawrence Freedman
Editor: Oxford University Press
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In The Strategy: A History, Sir Lawrence Freedman, one of the world’s leading authorities on war and international politics, captures the vast history of strategic thinking, in a constantly and insightfully engaging account of how strategy has invaded all aspects of our lives.Freedman’s range of storytelling is extraordinary, moving from the surprise advanced strategy practiced in primate groups, to the opposite of the strategies of Achilles and Ulysses in L’ Iliad, the strategic advice of Sun Tzu and Machiavelli, the great military innovations of Baron Henri de Jomini and Carl von Clausewitz, the grounding of revolutionary strategy in class struggles.The central question at the heart of this strategy, the author notes, is whether it is possible to manipulate and shape our environment rather than simply become the victim of forces beyond our control.At times, Freedman demonstrates that the unpredictable nature of this environment-subject to chance, the efforts of adversaries, the false step of friends-provides a strategy with its challenge and drama.Armed or societies or nations rarely move from one predictable state of affairs to another, but instead of feeling their way through a series of states, each not quite what was planned, requiring a reassessment of the original strategy, including its ultimate goal.Thus, the image of the strategy that emerges in this book is one that is fluid and flexible, governed by the starting point, not the end point.A brilliant synthesis of the most eminent strategists of history’s theories, from David’s use of deception against Goliath to the modern use of game theory in economics, this masterful volume summarizes a whole life of reflection on strategy.
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