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Strategy: A History Hardcover – 31 Oct 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 768 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA; 1st Edition edition (31 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199325154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199325153
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 5.8 x 16.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

[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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By Dr Barry Clayton TOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 Nov. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is an important book by a leading war/strategic studies academic. He was also a member of the Chilcote enquiry into the Iraq war whose deliberations and findings we still await. He was for a time Professor of War Studies at King's College London, the leading centre for such studies.

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'.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most strategy books are quite boring because they easily become hagiographic and simplistic. Freedman does not fall into that trap but discusses the phenomenon from many angles. The writing style is easy and the book reads almost like a novel which makes it both information and enjoyable.
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By Ludovico Sforza TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 April 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is one very large book, not only in size but in the detail the topic is covered in. The author has tried to cover every aspect of strategy and to do so almost everyone and everything is dragged in from ancient history, Milton's Paradise Lost, Napoleon, Von Clausewitz and the ships cat. Having said that the book is focused "largely on Western thinking...and for recent times (I) have particularly examined American approaches". The author is clear about the advantages of this approach and who am I to argue with him on that. Problem for me is that I formed the impression that the book the author really wanted to write was a `Machiavellian' guide for the modern politician.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a weighty tome on the history of strategic thinking. A number of sections covering different areas of strategic thought, though the one on the evolution of military thinking is all too brief. There is too much on Management Strategy for my taste. I would like to see a lot more on the ancient strategists.
Still a good one stop shop on the subject.
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By Mr. Pj Williams VINE VOICE on 23 April 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you have ever attempted to read clausewitz, then you will understand that books concerning stategy can be a real chore. This however does not, being that its an everyman book on stategy. not only does it cover the basic ideas from a military aspect but also ventures into its usage in politics and teh business world. freedman is essentaily proving a point that strategy is a plan and we all form plans to do everything- if you set an alarm clock to get up in teh morning you have the beginings of a strategy for your day- he covers alot of ground, and to be honest it makes a great touchstone to refer to when you need somthing written in academic speak interpreted into common usage language, also I find the best way to understand stategy is through example of it in action. there are some very imaginative chapters, covering topics I wouldnt have thought of, including the use of stategy in the bible, even some humour, but most of all it has that genre crossing ability to atract readers who have always been curious but been put off by an attempt at someone like clausewitz. The size isnt as daunting either when you realise its more to be dipped in and out of. all in all I found it a great book which is sure to grace many, stidents, soldiers, and business leaders shelves for years to come
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