In The 33 Strategies of War, Greene has crafted an important 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 folly and genius of everyone from Napoleon to Margaret Thatcher, Shaka the Zulu to Lord Nelson, Hannibal to Ulysses S. Grant, as well as movie moguls, Samurai swordsmen, and diplomats, each of the thirty-three chapters outlines a strategy that will help you win life’s wars. 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 respond to dangerous situations and avoid unwinnable wars.
The great warriors of 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 of War provides all the psychological ammunition you need to overcome patterns of failure and forever gain the upper hand.
The 33 strategies Of War – PDF
In 33 Strategies of War, Robert Greene turns military combat into an appropriate metaphor for life in the so-called civilized world. The author introduces the book with a warning to not be deceived by the political correctness and democratic values that the modern world promotes, because beneath the splendour of the king’s court is nothing more than human nature broiling in its most aggressive essence, and rather vented through covert, subtle, and socially accepted ways.
The civilized world is inherently duplicitous, with an ever-widening gap between our ideals and reality. This is not because humans are bad people, according to Greene, but rather because we cannot help it. As I always say, nature is simply politically incorrect. Instead of mortals struggling against nature in a hopeless fight, Greene suggests that we should simply understand our nature, accept it, and deal with it in strategically mature ways.
From the Preface:
“We live in a culture that promotes democratic values of being fair to one and all, the importance of fitting into a group and knowing how to cooperate with other people. We are taught early in life that those who are outwardly combative and aggressive pay a social price: unpopularity and isolation. These values of harmony and cooperation are perpetuated in subtle and not-so-subtle ways—through books on how to be successful in life; through the pleasant, peaceful exteriors that those who have gotten ahead in the world present to the public; through notions of correctness that saturate the public space. The problem for us is that we are trained and prepared for peace and we are not at all prepared for what confronts us in the real world—war.
This war exists on several levels. Most obviously, we have our rivals on the other side. The world has become increasingly competitive and nasty. In politics, business, even the arts, we face opponents who will do almost anything to gain an edge. More troubling and complex, however, are the battles we face with those who are supposedly on our side.
There are those who outwardly play the team game, who act very friendly and agreeable, but who sabotage us behind the scenes, use the group to promote their own agenda. Others, more difficult to spot, play subtle games of passive aggression, offering help that never comes, instilling guilt as a secret weapon. On the surface, everything seems peaceful enough, but just below it, is every man and woman for him or herself, this dynamic infecting even families and relationships. The culture may deny this reality and promote a gentler picture, but we know it and feel it, in our battle scars.”
It is essential to learn the strategies and mind games of the adept, in civilized circumstances more than anywhere else, in order to best defend oneself from the snares of enemies and frenemies alike. ”What we need are not impossible and inhuman ideals of peace and cooperation to live up to, and the confusion that brings us, but rather practical knowledge on how to deal with conflict and the daily battles we face,” explains Greene.
Instead of pathologizing typically human characteristics or passing moralistic judgments, he simply presents the behaviours observed in the species throughout centuries of study and provides insight on how to deal with attacks and obstacles accordingly. In the most primitive state, everything humans do can be reduced to self-interest, and in this sense life is merely a major chess tournament in which everyone seeks to win. The problem is that people’s self-interest is not always compatible with the self-interest of others, and therein lies the root of all war. That is precisely where 33 Strategies of War comes in handy.
About The Book
The first section is perhaps my favourite because it focuses on the only person and thing one can control—oneself, one’s actions, and one’s perspective. This type of philosophy reminds me very much of another favourite work of mine, The Enchiridion by Epictetus. Often one’s greatest battles originate from one’s fallacies and poor way of dealing with the winds of life, so it is refreshing to read a book that reminds us of personal accountability in conflict, instead of instilling a victim mentality and blaming everyone else. Remember, one of the best aspects about Greenan literature is that there is never a good and bad—things are simply amoral, and a master chess player ought to first master himself.
The second section is excellent too because it provides tips on how to deal with the “Groupthink” philosophy that has plagued the modern workplace. This section seems to be directed at those in positions of power for it gives plenty of insight as to how authority figures think. These pages are essential reading for anybody who has to work for a master in a group, for it reveals the tricks masters apply to lead happy, obedient masses. As a member of the subordinate working class, I greatly appreciate this treasure of knowledge.
The third section, which deals with defensive warfare, fascinates me because it has some of the most useful tips in strategies against clandestine attacks from the other chess players of life whose interests just do not happen to correspond with ours, or those who strike at us for sheer entertainment.
The fourth section dealing with offensive warfare is also useful to keep around in the back of one’s mind even if one never plans to engage in any type of strike. For let us remember the famous Aesop fable, “The Wild Boar and the Fox:”
”A wild boar was engaged in whetting his tusks upon the trunk of a tree in the forest when a fox came by and, seeing what he was at, said to him, ‘Why are you doing that, pray? The huntsmen are not out today, and there are no other dangers at hand that I can see.’ ‘True, my friend,’ replied the boar, ‘but the instant my life is in danger I shall need to use my tusks. There’ll be no time to sharpen them then.’”
Robert Greene uses for example some of the most skillful men in the arts of strategic war, such as Sun Tzu, Julius Caesar, Hernan Cortez, and Napoleon Bonaparte; he also presents examples from psychological wars outside the battlefield and shares stories about Alfred Hitchcock and Mae West as examples.
Also, the author quotes some of the most cunning thinkers in the art of strategies, such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Niccolo Machiavelli, Musashi Miyamoto, and Saul Alinsky. Greene makes the history lessons enjoyable by giving the strategies a modern twist through hypothetical examples on how they can apply to the reader in modern-day situations in the modern world’s battlefields: the workplace, social gatherings, and even the family setting.
Nobody escapes the author’s frighteningly clear microscope, which makes his candid work irresistibly appealing in a world that is shrouded by the tawdry twenty-five-cent jewellery of politeness and political correctness.
The author speaks in the second person’s point of view, which makes readers feel as if they are having a conversation with Athena herself, the goddess of wisdom and war strategy. In fact, the book is dedicated to Athena, as well as to Napoleon, Sun-Tzu, and the author’s charming little feline by the name of Brutus.
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