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. Read more...
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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-10-21
- Reviewer: Staff
Former defense adviser to Tony Blair and professor of war studies at King's College, London, Freedman outlines past and present strategies of force and mind. His encyclopedic review begins with von Clausewitz's ideas on military power, and moves into futurist Kahn's contributions on deterrence in thermonuclear warfare. But this tour de force is not solely or even primarily about war; on bottom-up strategies he includes thinkers such as Marx, Lenin, Mao Zedong, and Martin Luther King, Jr. He also provides evenhanded, reliable analyses of little-read strategists Gramsci and Alinsky, and doesn't neglect propaganda and advertising genius Edward Bernays or corporate management strategic pioneers Peter Drucker and Alfred Sloan. The book concludes with reflections on why strategy is limited by rational choice and chance. The author suggests that strategic thinking in military and business are very different. Unusually thoughtful and clearly written, Freedman's dense tome is a serious academic study in political theory, but it has crossover potential and will attract readers interested in military planning, strategic systems, and the nature of power. (Oct.)