Strategy: A History
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Selected as a Financial Times Best Book of 2013
In 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 consistently engaging and insightful account of how strategy came to pervade every aspect of our lives.
The range of Freedman's narrative is extraordinary, moving from the surprisingly advanced strategy practiced in primate groups, to the opposing strategies of Achilles and Odysseus in The 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 by Marx, the insights into corporate strategy found in Peter Drucker and Alfred Sloan, and the contributions of the leading social scientists working on strategy today. The core issue at the heart of strategy, the author notes, is whether it is possible to manipulate and shape our environment rather than simply become the victim of forces beyond one's control. Time and again, Freedman demonstrates that the inherent unpredictability of this environment-subject to chance events, the efforts of opponents, the missteps of friends-provides strategy with its challenge and its drama. Armies or corporations or nations rarely move from one predictable state of affairs to another, but instead feel their way through a series of states, each one not quite what was anticipated, requiring a reappraisal of the original strategy, including its ultimate objective. Thus the picture of strategy that emerges in this book is one that is fluid and flexible, governed by the starting point, not the end point.
A brilliant overview of the most prominent strategic theories in history, from David's use of deception against Goliath, to the modern use of game theory in economics, this masterful volume sums up a lifetime of reflection on strategy.
around the edges a much more individualistic, libertarian, permissive culture was taking root, posing a provocative and enduring challenge to the American way of life. Though they swam in the same demographic tides, there was no logical reason why the counterculture and radical politics had to move hand in hand, other than Vietnam. This pulled them together. During 1967, gentle, hedonistic “hippies”—often high on drugs—made their appearance offering “love and peace” as a form of “flower power.”
candidates appointed to the boards that were notionally supervising them. Nonetheless, management still involved less than control. Managers were employees who could be—and often were—fired when affairs were badly handled. Their success would depend on an ability to get the best out of those beneath them in the hierarchy, but unlike the military chain of command (with which comparisons were natural), there was likely to be a greater range of functions to be coordinated and less reliance on
previous section mentioned Burnham’s The Managerial Revolution, regularly cited because of its title rather than its content, as the neatest description of how emerging structures of power were confounding the expectations of communists and free-marketeers alike. A surprising number of former Trotskyists, including Herbert Solow and John McDonald, joined the business-oriented Fortune Magazine. McDonald retained a fascination with conflict and strategy. We have already met him as an important
might be worthy of the term, it now risks meaninglessness, lacking any truly distinguishing feature. One obvious boundary is to insist on its irrelevance in situations involving inanimate objects or simple tasks. It only really comes into play when elements of conflict are present. Situations in which this conflict is only latent are rarely approached in a truly strategic frame of mind. Rather than assume trouble people prefer instead to trust others with the expectation of being trusted in turn.
Barry M. Gough, “Maritime Strategy: The Legacies of Mahan and Corbett as Philosophers of Sea Power,” The RUSI Journ al 133, no. 4 (December 1988): 55–62. 25. Donald M. Schurman, Julian S. Corbett, 1854–1922 (London: Royal Historical Society, 1981), 54. See also Eric Grove, “Introduction,” in Julian Corbett, Some Principles of Maritime Strategy (Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1988). This book was first published in 1911. The annotated 1988 publication also contains “The Green Pamphlet” of