Strategy: A History Hardcover – 31 Oct 2013
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[Strategy: A History] elegantly synthesises strands of thought. (RUSI Journal)
This is an epic undertaking, of considerable intellectual ambition. It displays the familiar Freedmanian virtues: clarity, economy, proficiency, sagacity a compound of deep immersion, practised exposition, and a certain practical wisdom in it... In strategy, everything is connected. Freedman shows us how. (The Guardian)
To the best of my knowledge, this is the only book ever attempted on the entire historical and conceptual domain of strategy. Indeed, I am somewhat awestruck by the scope of the mission that Freedman set himself. ... Strategy is a very considerable, indeed monumental, product that no one else has had the temerity to attempt. (Colin Gray, International Affairs)
A discursive account with many interesting passages ... There is much of interest in Freedman's book. (Jeremy Black, History Today)
Arguably the best book ever written on strategy (in its widest sense). (Gerard DeGroot, Washington Post)
Freedman offers a wide-ranging, scholarly and entertaining history of the concept. He ranges from David and Goliath to Peter Drucker, by way of Marx and Machiavelli - and emphasises the importance of responding flexibly to events. (Books of the Year, Financial Times)
This is a book of startling scope, erudition and, more than anything, wisdom. (Janan Ganesh, Financial Times)
Magisterial ... wide-ranging erudition and densely packed argument. (The Economist)
[A] fascinating, at moments playful book. (Bruce Anderson, The Sunday Times)
Freedman's writing is admirably lucid, and the breadth of his knowledge and scholarship astonishing...Both as a history of ideas and as a work of reference, it is invaluable Erudite, wise and illuminating, Strategy is a book to be savoured and treasured. (Sir David Goodall, The Tablet)
This is an original and intriguing approach. (Richard Overy, Literary Review)
[A] vast exploration of strategy that is difficult to read, full of surprises, and marked by unsurpassed erudition. It also is witty and reminds us that he in the world who knows most about strategy may be the one who is the most unimpressed with it. (Victor Davis Hanson, National Review)
An ambitious and sprawling book ... With admirable candor, Freedman tells us that he received the contract for this book in (gulp!) 1994, and that he made a "number of false starts" with the manuscript. Considering the daunting scope of the subject, this is entirely understandable. Considering the wisdom and analytical brilliance he brings to bear on that subject, it's been well worth the wait. (The Daily Beast)
Will surely become a standard reference in the discipline ... ambitious and impressive. (strategy+business.com)
A marvelous grand tour of the meaning, implications, and consequences of strategic thinking through the ages and in multiple contexts. Freedman is a master of the subject and unsurpassed in his ability to unravel the twists and turns of strategic complexities and paradoxes. (Robert Jervis, Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Politics, Columbia University)
Lawrence Freedman shows here why he is justly renowned as one of the world's leading thinkers about strategy, which he defines as the central art of getting more out of a situation than the starting balance of power would suggest. (Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Harvard University and author of The Future of Power)
Erudite, wide-ranging, and covering an astonishing array of subjects relating to strategy. (Azar Gat, author of War in Human Civilization)
Freedman's writing is admirably lucid, and the breadth of his knowledge and scholarship astonishing... Both as a history of ideas and as a work of reference, it is invaluable Erudite, wise and illuminating, Strategy is a book to be savoured and treasured, not least in its conclusion: that "in the end, all we can do is to act as if we can influence events. To do otherwise is to succumb to fatalism." (The Tablet)
So erudite, so wide-ranging, and so knowledgeable ... impressive achievement. No single book on strategy is as intellectually intimidating; and none moves as easily as his does across time and space. (The World Today)
Immensely learned and wide-ranging, beautifully written and full of insight ... a fine book. (Michael Williams, University of Hertfordshire)
About the Author
Lawrence Freedman has been Professor of War Studies at King's College London since 1982, and Vice-Principal since 2003. Elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1995 and awarded the CBE in 1996, he was appointed Official Historian of the Falklands Campaign in 1997. He was awarded the KCMG in 2003. In June 2009 he was appointed to serve as a member of the official inquiry into Britain and the 2003 Iraq War. Professor Freedman has written extensively on nuclear strategy and the cold war, as well as commentating regularly on contemporary security issues. His most recent book, A Choice of Enemies: America Confronts the Middle East, won the 2009 Lionel Gelber Prize and Duke of Westminster Medal for Military Literature.
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Top Customer Reviews
In the book Freedman tackles the problem of how to define strategy in different contexts, eg military politics,and business. In so doing he examines and discusses:
the evolution of strategy from biblical times, through the Greeks, even Satan!
He analyses the key findings of: Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, and Von Clausewitz. Interesting, but this part adds little to what we have known for decades.
He then examines: nuclear war (about which he has written several stimulating texts), guerrilla warfare, the revolution in military affairs (RMA), the contribution of Marx and Herzen, the power of non-violence as practised by Ghandi, business strategy and theories of strategy. He divides most of this 730 page book into looking at: 'Strategy from Below' (ie Marx, Herzen and Bakunin), and 'Strategy from Above'( Management strategy, Economics and the Sociological challenge).
As he says, we all need a plan whether we are in the army, a corporation or government in order to make sense of the uncertainty and confusion of human affairs. Essentially, strategy deals with the long term whereas tactics focuses on the short term. In war, strategy is a bridge between policy and battlefield operations. Strategy considers causes not just symptoms, it focuses on woods rather than trees. Hence, we speak of marketing strategies, procurement strategies, winning strategies in chess, and overall strategies. In wartime the picture is somewhat sullied when we talk of 'the strategic bombing offensive'.Read more ›
For all that it is a very interesting and thought provoking book that is certainly worth the time to read. And I did enjoy it It's just that I was never sure quite whom the various points being made were aimed at. Of course it may just be me not quite having the level of understanding required of such a tome but I can't help that!
Four stars because as I say above I think this is really two books, one about military strategy and one about the application and meaning of strategy twinned with a political/business approach. Course it doesn't help that people can't seem to agree on a definitive meaning for the word strategy. A point the author makes and in fairness to him (and I'll assume that I've understood this bit) he does try to clear this up, basically the meaning he comes to is anything that one plans is a strategy.
Some 700 odd pages in length and 61/2" (15cm) x 91/2"(24cm) x 2 3/4"(7cm) in actual size it's not for reading in the bath! Written is a clear and readable style with a decent typeface.
Still a good one stop shop on the subject.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very good reference to know and to understand history ideas about war and politics.Published 2 months ago by talal ali
With some exaggeration, but with some truth, it has been said that life is a battlefield. Before 1800, the word strategy wasn’t used by generals let alone anyone else but that does... Read morePublished 6 months ago by F Henwood
Thought this would be a challenge to read given the depth. But it is a fascinating book. The author demonstrates his vast knowledge and the perspective is unbiased in my view. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Mr. C. Sheader
This book is like an analects (I would say even like a collage, full of quotes and excerpts from other books), with a subject –strategy- too large and rich to be included in a... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Jaime-Axel Ruiz
If you wanted to know as if it all on this topic, this book is a must.Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
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