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.
I have gone through so many books on strategy and there are a few, very few that I consider to be great work. And this is one of them. Not only that we get a Layout of the history of strategy over the last 200 years, but Friedman has gone through a Layout is on understanding of what strategy truly is.
The last book on strategy it really got my attention was Good Strategy Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt. I can honestly say that Richards work in this book has really brought things together for me with regards to strategy. Of the many books have gone through and strategy on management in the business arena.
These two books have taught me that strategy is not about planning for the future it’s about how to deal with the circumstances you’re given on the situations you find while you’re trying to achieve your goal given you current means.
Great work Lawrence!