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The 33 Strategies of War (Joost Elffers Books) Paperback – December 14, 2007


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The 33 Strategies of War (Joost Elffers Books) + The 48 Laws of Power + Mastery
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Product Details

  • Series: Joost Elffers Books
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (December 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143112783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143112785
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (178 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As in his bestselling The 48 Laws of Power, Greene puts a modern spin on wisdom that has stood the test of history, only this time his role model is Sun Tzu rather than Machiavelli. The argument is fairly standard: despite our most noble intentions, "aggressive impulses that are impossible to ignore or repress" make military combat a fitting metaphor for getting ahead in life. Greene's advice covers everything from steeling one's mind for battle to specific defensive and offensive tactics—notably, the final section on "dirty" warfare is one of the book's longest. Historical lessons are outlined and interpreted, with amplifying quotations crammed into the margins. Not all of the examples are drawn from the battlefield; in one section, Greene skips nimbly from Lyndon Johnson's tenacity to Julius Caesar's decisiveness, from Joan Crawford's refusal to compromise to Ted Williams's competitive drive. Alfred Hitchcock, he says, embodies "the detached-Buddha tactic" of appearing uninvolved while remaining in total control. The diversity of subject matter compensates for occasional lapses into stilted warriorese ("arm yourself with prudence, and never completely lay down your arms, not even for friends"). For those willing to embrace its martial conceit, Greene's compendium offers inspiration and entertainment in equal measure. (Jan. 23)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Greene and "producer" Joost Elffers are the Machiavellians who brought us The 48 Laws of Power (1998) and The Art of Seduction (2001), and their latest book similarly purports to distill the profundities of history for personal gain. Unapologetically premised on Hobbesian "all that is social is war" bromides, this account collects parables of strategic success and error from a diverse cast of military and nonmilitary historical figures. Its lessons are presented self-help-book style in chapters titled "Maneuver Them into Weakness" and "Seem to Work for the Interests of Others While Furthering Your Own" and flanked by a withering barrage of reiterative marginalia. Most books this cynical (and this repetitive) need a sense of humor to be readable, something this book apparently lacks. Its quasi-spiritual tone, though perhaps increasing its attractiveness to the impressionable, is also trying at times. But those readers who push through to the end (or flip ahead) will find a curiously contemporary section on modern terrorism cloaking a surprisingly specific commentary on al-Qaeda and antiterrorism strategy. Politics by other means? Brendan Driscoll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Robert Greene is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, and The 50th Law. His highly anticipated fifth book, Mastery, examines the lives of great historical figures such as Charles Darwin, Mozart, Paul Graham and Henry Ford and distills the traits and universal ingredients that made them masters. In addition to having a strong following within the business world and a deep following in Washington, DC, Greene's books are hailed by everyone from war historians to the biggest musicians in the industry (including Jay-Z and 50 Cent).

Greene attended U.C. Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he received a degree in classical studies. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

You really can't go wrong with this book.
Philip B. Capelle
Robert Greene is great at giving examples and historical stories on his topics great book.
C. Rodgers
Very nicely written, my boyfriend is currently reading this book as well.
Beverly Porras

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 87 people found the following review helpful By CADJewellerySkills on June 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Among the other reviews here, there have been some comparisons between this book and the Art of War by Sun Tzu. I'd agree. Both are elegant and detailed instruction manuals on how to prepare yourself for conflict.

Once again, Green brings a tremendous body of research and historical insight to his writing, demonstrating the key points of each chapter through some of the greatest successes and mistakes from history.

But this isn't just a book about war. Greene repeatedly states that many of the strategies and tactics used to harden an individual for conflict (or conflict avoidance) apply equally well to business, politics and negotiation, and the examples come from everywhere from Hollywood to Ancient Rome.

The advantage this book has over the previous two is that his clarification of his strategies is more balanced and consistent. He goes vague less often here.

This book completes nicely Greene's cycle of historical self-improvement books: the first in how to woo others to your way of thinking, the second to deal with power structures, and the third for self-discipline and conflict resolution.
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164 of 176 people found the following review helpful By Philip B. Capelle on January 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Robert Greene is a prolific research and thinker who has made a habit out of writing masterpieces that explore all nuances of human behavior. In his latest tome he follows the same approach as in his previous bestsellers by leading off each chapter with a quick and easy to read summary that gives you the essence of the strategy and the stories that follow. Then he leads you on one fascinating historical excursion after another that brings each strategy to life through the exploits of some of histories most famous and notorious characters.

The beauty of his approach is that there is something for everyone in this book. You may read about a tactic that is highly amusing, but that you say to yourself, "I could never do that." Then in the next chapter you may say, "That's fits in with my personality. I can do that." That's how I felt about his strategies for laying back and appearing to not care, and about his strategy for taking an unassailable position.

A brief story in chapter 4 on developing a sense of extreme urgency was well worth the cost of the book to me. It talks about Fyodor Dostoevsky and how a change in his perspective on the value of life lead to a greater appreciation for every moment, and to an era of rampant productivity that continued until his death. Because I'm an author I spend a good part of every day writing and thinking about my work. After reading about Dostoevsky I immediately felt an even higher sense of purpose and motivation.

You really can't go wrong with this book. It is very entertaining and educational. Beyond that, you could pick up some sage, time-tested advice for improving both your business and your life. Bravo!

Phil Capelle
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91 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Dave Lakhani VINE VOICE on February 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Robert Greene's books are deep and they are for thinkers. If you want a breezy beach read or airplane read, this is not that book.

You'll read this book once, get to the last page and go back to page 1 and start reading again. There are literally hundreds of ideas in this book.

I especially like the way the author has made the book applicable to your life, the business or the battlefield.

As a former soldier, I deeply appreciate the detailed review of war strategies and found the book so compelling, I'm buying copies for all of my friends who are in the military and currently deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

If you only read one business or self improvement book this year, read this one. If you read three, read the author's other two books, The 48 Laws of Power and The Art of Seduction.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Mark D. Schaeffer on October 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I got a top tier MBA, spent tens of thousands of dollars and two years, but didn't learn the important stuff. (And I was the valedictorian, and got some really great jobs). I really enjoyed Greene's book 42 laws of power (I can't remember if it's 42 or some other number), but this book is a great reminder and educator of the way things work behind the scenes, in people's minds, and at the macro level of every business and political dealing. I'm convinced that there is either a conspiracy in our educational system to make us dumb workerbees, 99% of our teachers just don't get it, or our measurement system for the quality and effectiveness of our eductional system is severely broken. (Or all the above!)

Much of the book rings a bell with my intuition, but there is a great deal which is so inciteful and informative. I would say I couldn't put the book down, but that's not true, I needed to take a rest every chapter or so. I love his mixing of explaning the principals then giving historical examples. The war stories have direct analogies to the business world.

I have also read Greene's "Art of Seduction", which I think is absolutely vile and disgusting. I don't think the book is vile and distigusting, I think the book simply tells the truth. Greene doesn't make the rules, he's just telling how many "successfull" people play the game, which is really just a clear illustration of the part of human nature which is cloaked behind good manners and grooming, and how people take advantage of our good nature, weaknesses, and need for connection and love--all of which applies to both our personal and business world. Better to know it than not know it, and know when to fight fire with fire if you think you can stay true to your principles. Maybe there should be a followup something like "Buddah's dance with Devil"

This book is going on my top shelf.
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