Strategy is part of your everyday life whether you recognize it or not. Being well versed in the art of war goes well beyond being prepared on an actual battlefield, it can also prepare you for many circumstances you encounter everyday and opportunities you might never recognize otherwise. When reading these books think to yourself how you may utilize the information you come across and apply it to your business strategy, market strategy or to simply protect yourself from being gamed by hostile individuals.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu- This discourse on military strategy was produced in the 6th century BC by the Chinese general. It is one of the greatest and most influential works of strategy ever written. Sun Tzu outlined 13 chapters covering a different facet of warfare. One must take the time to prepare and study for war to reach the desired outcomes. It is important to recognize changes in your circumstances and adjust your plans accordingly in order to overcome any challenges you are faced with. Having flexibility in your strategy allows you to outmaneuver your opponent and meet your set goals with as little loss on your end as possible.
“Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”- Sun Tzu
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli- Niccolo Machiavelli wrote this book in 1513 on the subject of ascending to or maintaining power. The work lays out guidelines for a prince to follow to properly rule over his subjects and deal with foreign competitors who might challenge his power. Lots of this is guarding against unruly subjects by finding a middle between being too ruthless and hated and being too kind so as your subjects tire of you and think that you are weak.
Books by Robert Greene-Robert Greene’s books The 48 Laws of Power, The 33 Strategies of War, The Art of Seduction, and his newest addition The 50th Law synthesize many great works on strategy and use real life examples of their application. Each principle is discussed with correct and failed observances as well as keys to implement each one. The works of Robert Greene can serve as a starting point before diving into the original works he uses as his sources.
On War by Karl von Clausewitz- Prussian soldier Karl von Clausewitz saw first hand the awesome military display put forth by Napoleon Bonaparte in the beginning of the 19th century and decided to write his take on how war should be fought. Your enemy should learn how powerful you really are but war is only acceptable if it will in the long run be beneficial to your country.
On Guerilla Warfare Mao Tse-tung- Chairman Mao as he would later be known wrote this book in 1937 while fighting against an invading Japanese army. The leader of the Chinese communists Mao writes about how to assemble, maintain, and fight with a Guerilla army. This is a military classic on the tactics of guerilla warfare
How to Make War by Napoleon Bonaparte- A book of maxims on warfare by one of history’s greatest generals and like Mao not a very good person, but all judgments aside this is an important book.
“The whole art of war consists in a well-reasoned and extremely circumspect defensive, followed by a rapid and audacious attack.”- Napoleon Bonaparte
Strategy by B.H. Liddell Hart- Written in the 20th century this book advocates the effectiveness of fighting indirectly instead of head on so that you may have greater flexibility and maneuverability while avoiding getting bogged down in a war in the trenches.
Commentaries on the Gallic War and On the Civil War by Julius Caesar- These are two separate works by the once Emperor of Rome. While Caesar does self-aggrandize, almost to the point of propaganda sometimes in these works they are still very good insights to fighting a war.
A Book on the Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi- Samurai warrior Miyamoto Musashi wrote his ideas on military strategy sometime in the middle of the 17th century. The book is separated into five parts (hence the title) included sections discuss leadership, basic techniques, fighting in battles, style, and mental prepartation.