Review: Strategy, Lawrence Freedman

Rating: 3 out of 5

This is so broad… The author talks about military, political, and economic strategy, with the one guiding principle across all of these being that as soon as someone thinks they’ve come up with the next “last” strategy, it is clear they’ve managed to think up something applicable only in one very specific general setting. The repetition of this scheme across all the people the author mentions gets tedious. Towards the end, however, this is broken up more and more frequently by actually interesting examples (but the book itself starts veering towards what Kahneman has already written).

As such, there’s plenty in here that could work as a good reference book — in case of a specific time or period or person being of interest, he could be looked up and focussed on, providing the author mentions the name as there still seem to be some very interesting omissions (I was surprised by the German military command style not being considered). However, the style and the amazing frequency at which people get stupid ideas that they think are amazing (I guess this in itself should tell us something…) turn it into a tedious read if the approach is cover-to-cover.

What also seems to be the case across much of the business section is that all of the ideas being tested could be described as falling under common sense. Yet, the economists and theorists design experiments and then are surprised when these show up things they did not predict. One of the most interesting examples I found in the book was of an experiment where only the subject group of economists did what the economists did everyone else would do. Clearly this says “out of touch” more than anything else.

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