The 33 Strategies of War

“Do not fight them. Instead think of them the way you think of children, or pets, not important enough to affect your mental balance”
― Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

The 33 Strategies of War is a 2006 book written by American author Robert Greene It is a book that describes war tactics… in your own life, in everything from business negotiations to family quarrels…

You might remember my earlier review: 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene’s first book. I guess numbers are attractive and so I half-accidentally stumbled upon this book on Audible and decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed. The 33 Strategies of War is a book that combines the knowledge of great classics such as  ‘Art of War’ and ‘On War’ and expanding that knowledge and making it much more practical to use these strategies in your daily life.

 

“Events in life mean nothing if you do not reflect on them in a deep way, and ideas from books are pointless if they have no application to life as you live it.”
― Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

I loved this book. It gives you countless  and countless of good guidelines on how to lead your life. Although, from time to time that advice can be quite realistic or even brutal. Preface of the book starts with some nice examples from Greek mythology. Ares was the greek god of war,  however Athene was the goddess of warfare and that is the often case in other mythologies. Point of war is not in killing, but in strategy. Not being the pawn, but the player.

Book has been divided into different strategies of warfare, every chapter giving you more insight on them. These strategies include: Self-directed warfare, organizational warfare, offensive warfare, defensive warfare and unconventional (dirty) warfare. Every chapter of the book contains own sub-strategy and it is (just as in 48 Laws of Power) purely genius. Couple of examplesfrom chapters under the dirty warfare. Chapter 23 is called Weave seamless blend of fact and fiction. Point of this chapter is to teach you how to confuse and to distract your enemies from what you are doing or what is goind on around them. Feed their expectations and manifacture their reality to match their desires. Or Chapter 28 is called: Give Your Rivals Enough Rope to Hang Themselves: The One-Upmanship Strategy.  “Life’s greatest dangers often come not from external enemies but from our supposed colleagues and friends who pretend to work for the common cause while scheming to sabotage us.”  Point is to confuse our enemies in these games they are playing.

“Your mind is the starting point of all war and all strategy. A mind that is easily overwhelmed by emotion, that is rooted in the past instead of the present, that cannot see the world with clarity and urgency, will create strategies that will always miss the mark.”
― Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

To most of you, all of this might sound shocking, terrible and you might not to want to use these strategies though I think everyone should at least know of them. I adored this book also because it made so much easier to understand world politics and actions of world leaders such as Trump or Putin. It also has enabled me to see through people and recognize the strategy they are playing if they are. What I didn’t quite like about The 33 Strategies of War was how often it repeated the same examples used in the previous book. It was good in a way because I knew the example and could see it both from strategy and power perspective, however I still wanted more of novel ideas.

5/5 stars

“You may think that what you’d like to recapture from your youth is your looks, your physical fitness, your simple pleasures, but what you really need is the fluidity of mind you once possessed.”
― Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

How-To Read The 33 Strategies of War
1.
If you love Art of War and On War, this should be your next read. And it’s perfect for history lovers.
2.
Quite a heavy book, it will probably take a while and for that it is the perfect book to listen to on your way to work for example.
3.
Umm… business is business?

Check out this awesome video:

Featured image: Photos: Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons…Soldiers in front of the wood of Hougoumont during the reenactment of the battle of Waterloo (1815), June 2011, Waterloo, Belgium, British artillery in action by John Warwick Brooke . And the video is linked here from the youtube site

The 48 Laws of Power

“Be wary of friends—they will betray you more quickly, for they are easily aroused to envy. They also become spoiled and tyrannical. But hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove. In fact, you have more to fear from friends than from enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make them.”
― Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

Kuvahaun tulos haulle 48 laws of power

The 48 Laws of Power is a self-help work  by Robert Greene. It is  seen as a modern day classic. As the title says, the book is about 48 Laws that will help you to achieve a position of power and to master it.

This book stunned me. People want different things in life, however if you want power then this book is the one you must read.  I really loved this book. I don’t think there is a clearer book about power. There’s Art of War by Sun Tzu, yet that only gives vague tips that are open to all kinds of interpretation.

“To succeed in the game of power, you have to master your emotions. But even if you succeed in gaining such self-control, you can never control the temperamental dispositions of those around you. And this presents a great danger.”
― Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

Book follows an interesting formula, it starts by stating the law of power, for example: Law 10. Infection: Avoid the unhappy and unlucky. Then the book explains the transgression of the law and interpretation: Law 10: If you associate yourself with people who seem to attract misfortune then you might be infected with this misfortune as well. Then, observance of the law and interpretation: Book tells us an historical example of Lola Montez and every man who associated themselves with her was doomed (great men like Ludwig I of Bavaria fell). Keys to power: this part explains step by step instructions on how to follow this law. For example, with law #10: if you are gloomy by nature, try to associate yourself with cheerful people, if you tend to avoid human company, surround yourself with sociable people, only associate yourself with successful people in short. Last part of the book formula is Reversal of the law explaining when you should behave exact opposite from what the law tells you to do. I might be confusing transgression and observance of the law parts but I hope you get my point still.

“Never waste valuable time, or mental peace of mind, on the affairs of others—that is too high a price to pay.”
― Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

I like how 48 Laws of  Power tells you to do the exact opposite of what many others will try to tell you. It tells you to play games, wear masks and never trust another person completely no matter who they are to you. Never let other people to pull you down and always take credit even if you didn’t do it. Cunning, isn’t it? I loved the various historical examples in this book. For example, I was aware of the fact that Rubens barely painted any of his painting himself, he rather relied on the students of Rubenshuis, however I did not know that the great Thomas Edison did this as well. Edison might be remembered as one of the greatest inventors of our time and what he really was a cunning businessman. ‘War of the currents’ is not just about whether AC or DC was better, it was about Edison ruining Tesla’s reputation. He most surely did not come up with ideas for 1, 093 patents under his name by himself.

And stories of countless emperors, kings and rulers as well as  some amazing con artists. Like “Count” Lustig who sold the Eiffel Tower twice and who managed to con 5000$ from Al Capone just by showing Capone some good will.

“…But the human tongue is a beast that few can master. It strains constantly to break out of its cage, and if it is not tamed, it will turn wild and cause you grief.”
― Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

It’s a long time since I have read a book as good as this one. Audio version on Audible was nearly 24 hours but it was definitely worth it. Simply wonderful book.
5/5 stars

How-To Read 48 Laws of Power

1. If you’re familiar with Art of War and have liked it, this is very similar to that. It’s one of those books you should keep on your nightstand.
2. Ste Davies has written a wonderful review (link) of this book also including all the laws and a nice graph, check it out. Laws alone even without explanations make a lot of sense.
3. Over 500 pages long so it’s quite hefty book so take it slow. Or I would recommend the Audible version. It is long as well, however the narrator was just wonderful. He had a powerful and clear voice which suited this book really well.
4. Be careful about applying these laws in your own life. You absolutely should apply them, however if you just suddenly start taking credit of all the ideas of other people, I can imagine what will happen to you. Be tactful and patient, power is like playing chess.
5. If you are not that interested about power and cunning people (I know it sounds evil…) I still warmly recommend this book for all the historical facts it gives.

Cover image source: Statue of Janus

Thoughts? Have you read this? Would you be interested in reading this?