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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
42
4.6 out of 5 stars


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on 12 November 2016
An excellent book, on strategy and leadership. Due to the depth, detail and range of examples covered, the book does take a commitment to read and finish. However every chapter, even the slower ones work towards a different view of strategy. Painting a wide landscape, some of the examples will be at odds with any current held believes. The stories told are strategy as vision, more than a manual of strategy as delivery. However as a stepping off point into delivery, any step taken will be more considered after reading this excellent book.
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VINE VOICEon 4 May 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an amazing work of scholarship that is also suitable for the general reader. Not only is it very well written, every concept clearly and elegantly explained, it is also very comprehensive. It takes the meaning and history of strategy in all its manifestations from the ancient Greece and China to today's world in which 'strategy' dominates thinking in the world of management and elsewhere. Highly recommended either to read from beginning to end or just dip into.
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on 10 February 2015
Loved almost every page as Freedman follows our human attempts to shape our futures. He moves from prehistory, using great ape behaviour as a proxy, through political and military strategic action and thought, and arrives at the present days debates about the narrative turn, behavioural science, hot and cold cognition, and concludes, quite rightly that a smart strategist recognises both the limits and possibilities of moving imaginatively from means to ends.
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on 22 March 2015
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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on 21 April 2015
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. A must read for all strategy students (and teachers).
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on 4 September 2014
good, interesting, but one has to be aware of subject as author is subjective and skips potentially important contributions to the subject. this is an interesting reading indeed, but not the whole truth scientifically speaking.
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on 17 April 2014
Without a doubt the best and most comprehensive review of the entire spectrum of strategy i have ever come across. Sir Lawrence Freedman clarity on the fundamental choices made throughout history by leaders is superb.
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VINE VOICEon 28 April 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I had read Bobbitt's The Shield of Achilles some years ago and as an amateur student of strategic as well as one of the worst strategic thinkers of all time, I was interested to read this new book. Firstly it is in a different league to Bobbitt's American hagiography. It actually has some sensible arguments. It is in fact a truly an epic account of strategy of almost biblical proportions starting out with the Bible and Greek mythology before travelling through history to cover, Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, von Clausewitz and to look at strategy in business and politics.

There was a time in the 80s/90s when the saying was business is war and the required reading was the book of Five Rings by Musashi. Now Freedman is very much into the superiority of numbers and strength being the default best position of strategy and that under-dog strategies are more a rarity than the norm, but Musashi was a single fighter often facing poor odds. So while this is the more practical view of strategy and the view practiced by some general such as Montgomery, there is much more romance in the fight against the odds. Often we prefer David to Goliath, Odysseus to Achilles, the geek to the jock bully.

So the author has built a strategy to protect his thesis and is starts from the first chapter in chimps where he tells the story of Yeroen and Luit in Arnhem zoo. He says how with superiority of coalition formation Luit takes over from the old alpha male Yeroen and the superior forces rule the day. But he does not mention how that story continued. Yeroen secretly created a new alliance with another young chimp who was not the alpha Luit called Nikkie and then Yeroen attacked and killed Luit during a night attack. It was mature guile and not posturing youth that won the day.

There are many other strategists who over-powered superior forces by understanding their limitations. Hannibal at Cannae is a perfect example and Rommel on many occasions was another (even the first day of El Alamein went worse than expected for Montgomery because of ill-advised attacks with inferior armour). Even Leonidas at Thermopylae was a strategic success (like the Alamo) even if it was not a tactical success for those involved.

So while Freedman writes very evocatively and very persuasively, he does not tell the whole story. That is his strategy. Deny the enemy complete knowledge and frustrate their intelligence gathering. That is how modern business works by having imperfect knowledge between parties in the market. So it is not only a book, it is a lesson in strategy itself.
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on 5 July 2014
A book for Students of life, in every walk of life! A Pleasure to read and re-read. A fertile resource on the genesis and use of strategy. Grand strategies well explained. Excellent.
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on 21 May 2014
150ish pages in and really enjoying it so far. I've gone from the use of the word in ancient greece to its use and
Meaning in the cold war. I would highly recommend this book.
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