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on July 27, 2016
To date I've read everything Robert Greene has in print and, much to my surprise, this turned out to be the most useful volume of all. Greene's other books were immensely helpful for clearing my head of cobwebs since, along with everyone else, I'm forced to negotiate our brave new world of cutthroat tactics and social Darwinists, while trying to keep a roof over my head. Without going into detail, let me simply say The 33 Strategies of War taught me exactly what I needed to know in order to adequately discourage the bullying I have had to endure at work for the past three years. Until I can find another job -- not all wars are winnable -- I can now keep this workplace vampire's demeaning behaviors in check. I recommend all of Greene's books, but this one may well be the best investment of the lot.
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Classic... 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.I have all his books. Every person should own the whole series, parents should give their children these books so they can learn, understand and be proactive in all areas of life, but more importantly to see through others motives.

The book is broken into five parts: Self-Directed Warfare, Organizational (Team) Warfare, Defensive Warfare, Offensive Warfare and Unconventional (Dirty) Warfare.Here you learn the offensive strategies that require you to maintain the initiative and negotiate from a position of strength, or the defensive strategies designed to help you respond to dangerous situations and avoid unwinnable wars.
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on March 14, 2017
This is probably the best book I've read - the writing is very engaging and they are explained in such an interesting and insightful way. Clearly a lot of research has gone into this, particularly the historic stories about war/combat and politics. The examples from history are an excellent way to illustrate specific points. I regularly keep this book for reference, and I'm sure I'll continue referring to it in the future. It uses the topic of war to explain and describe different strategic tools and methods. I've read 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene, so this is my 2nd book I've read by him - and it exceeded expectations.
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on October 4, 2012
Books written on the subject of strategy and the tactics to accomplish them are among the most ancient. Strategy & tactics have always been valued knowledge. Strategy has been carefully written for the next generation confronted with survival in a dangerous world. Humans relish the intellectual challenge to war or to preserve peace. The dimensions Greene pursues are based in the long cultural history of what has worked and what has not. The methods that worked in 400BC are current in the 21st century.

Placing that long history of the outcomes of strategy in the human experience is not a simple challenge. Greene's sampling of the range of options and there nuances in a concise and approachable fashion is well done. His method to draw from history in border highlights to his narrative is an immersive reading experience. Should the reader consider the historical quotational references first or Greene's narrative that elaborates? The answer for this reader was both. The commensurate demand of Greene's effort is to motivate the re-read of one or the other or both to seal in the central notion. Strategy and implications demands intellectual rigor if one's objective is to both understand the principles and rationalize the implications. Civilization has been defined by the strategic outcomes realized by our predecessors. Greene tells the story of why and why.

As to the business implications, the concept of `War' is perhaps better translated as `Competition'. We have no examples of non-warfare related competition or social governance that is not at core a friction of opposing ideals. Friction is relieved in strategy. Greene's primer does an excellent job elaborating methods in this context. War is a lengthy and thoroughly enjoyable read that is best consumed a chapter at a time.

5-star great read for the strategically oriented!
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on March 7, 2016
A few readers have complained that Mr. Greene wrote that "Afghanistan was rich in natural gas and other minerals and had ports on the Indian Ocean", when Afghanistan is a land-locked country. However, the operative word here is "was". According to some sources, "Afghanistan, at its height, included all of Pakistan and all the way to Delhi." Which means it was not landlocked at the time. You have to remember that Mr. Greene was writing from a historical perspective and the countries in this regions have had porous border for thousands of years. I also read that: "In 1857, Friedrich Engels describes "Afghanistan" as: [...] an extensive country of Asia [...] between Persia and the Indies, and in the other direction between the Hindu Kush and the Indian Ocean."
Also, I don't think that Mr. Greene's books are amoral. Quite the contrary, they open our eyes to the strategies that some people use to win or get ahead through strategy and manipulation, and allow us to prepare if ever we need to engage with them socially or professionally.
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on May 28, 2013
First the disclaimer - I am not a fan of Machiavellian philosophy and when I tried reading Robert Greene's first book: The 48 Laws of Power, I found it full of deceit and strategies that conflicted with my value system and so I could never finish reading it and thought of not touching any of his works again. Turns out I was pleasantly surprised by reading this one.

What I really like:
- "Everything is fair in love and war"
This book is a collection of war stories & strategies employed by some of history's greatest rulers and gives you an insight on what makes them truly "great". It is sort of a mini-biography of these great personalities giving you a well laid out picture of their circumstances and choices that worked & didn't work for them.

- "The moment you aim for results, you are in the realm of strategy"
This book is a mind opener as it broadens your thinking and makes you realize certain similarities in your everyday life situations with those used in this book. It makes general statements about present day life and you will find your mind automatically making subtle connections with your personal situations and sometimes even realizing how things could have been done differently.

- Those of you who have an interest in History or like watching the shows on History Channel will admire the way these stories have presented. Although this is a large book, it has been divided into 33 smaller chapters each of which talks about a specific war strategy making it easier to read. You can also read chapters from in between as most of the text makes sense even when read in isolation from other chapters.

- The book is very well researched and it feels like you are reading a summary of important lessons from other well written books on military warfare. All in all, you will find the stories interesting to keep turning the pages and wanting yourself to complete the end of a chapter in every sitting.

What I don't like:
- At places, the book contains fairly long quoted texts from other great warfare books in the middle of an interesting story (specially true for kindle edition) that interrupt the flow and take you away from original text

- Certain chapters are fairly long and borderline slightly boring with too much details which can be avoided. The book itself is also quite heavy read.
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The 33 Strategies of War is just an unbelievably entertaining and captivating book. My review is for the CD version (10 hours on 8 CDs), but they've put hardcover, soft cover and audio version reviews together. Thus my audio version review is grouped with the other reviews.

Listening to this book was extremely entertaining, educational and intriguing for me. I've never had an experience just like it. That's what motivated me to submit a review despite the previous 63 customer reviews. Don Leslie, the reader, deliberately and effectively adds to the drama, which is why I could not stop until I finished. His style is different than any I experienced. It's as if he's telling you a big secret and it makes you pay close attention. If you like military history, you will truly love this book.

One theme I didn't feel in my gut was the idea that these strategies can be employed in daily life for people like me. All the examples are great historical ones with which I was already familiar, and like most people interested in military history, I am always entertained when I receive a different angle or approach. There were no personal examples, such as how an individual, other than a great political or military leader, can use these strategies in life. I suppose one could find some applications in business, although I'm not sure if I can. But that's ok; this was a worthwhile educational and entertaining experience. I expect to listen to this CD set several more times in the future, and that is probably the highest compliment I can give.
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I thoroughly enjoyed reading The 48 Laws of Power and The Art of Seduction from this author. These books are packed with interesting rules, theories, and side notes. The actual stories in the margins of each chapter would probably make a book all by itself.

This book discusses the 33 strategies of war. Since I do not command a standing army, I am glad to see that every one of these strategies will work in my business and personal life. Yes, that is correct, I can use these strategies when dealing with my wife and kids. I can also recognize when these strategies are being used against me and then use the reversal strategy that ends each chapter to counter this "attack" or "loving gesture of motivation" my wife may use to get me to attend to some project around the house.

There is so much information in this book that I am having a hard time trying to write a short review that can do it justice. But let me just say, if you are interested in human interactions and motivation, then you will not be disappointed with this book.

I also think you need to read Power and Seduction too. The three books are really one big set and together they give a very detailed picture of why humans do what they do.
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on June 28, 2011
My boss bought me The Richest Man in Babylon when he promoted me. I loved it and so I bought it as an audio book too. In the past, I've read Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money--That the Poor and the Middle Class Do Not! (Miniature Edition) and some of Napoleon Hills' work. I wanted to venture off and read some of Machiavelli's work or Sun Tzu's The Art of War, and somehow stumbled upon 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene. I bought the audio CD and it is absolutely brilliant. Extremely rich and detailed with loads of useful information. Now I'm buying the book. The lessons are clear and can be applied in any life situation. I love the references Greene makes, using historical people and events. And of course, pumping up Napoleon. This may be a bit much for someone getting started in the realm of power, or overwhelming for shallow souls you lack depth of character or intelligence, but for someone searching for a profound path this may very well be the treasure house of wisdom they have long be thirsting for. In my personal opinion, Robert Greene is a contemporary genius. Something we need more of in this day and age.
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on April 8, 2017
I enjoyed this book. Its not without faults, and the author gets a little whimsy/meta when describing some of the concepts it entails. However this book gave me an interest in history i never knew i had. Overall i am exceedingly happy i read this.
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