Reading List: General Strategy Books


“In a man-to-man fight, the winner is he who has one more round in his magazine.”
― Erwin Rommel

Erwin Rommel one of the greatest military strategists was referring to war in the battlefield but the quote is true in any leadership settings. The winner is the one armed and equipped to deal with the situation at hand. And in any leadership situation you are planning to achieve missions and goals under conditions of many uncertainties.

It was the first  Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion who said “All experts are experts for things that did happen. There are no experts for things that may happen” And in this regard only history, strategies and situations of the past that are recorded in the timeless great books is the tools that will guide us. Here are the books I found to be a very good foundation for the study of strategy.

History Of The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides.  It is the historic account of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta  written by Thucydides. He was a general in the war, and later historian and writer. His account of the war are timeless  lessons for students of strategy and human nature. You will read a great deal of destruction, accounts of raids, sieges, routs and pursuits, and naval battle. You see the shortsightedness and irrationality of men, and disastrous results of strength and fear. You will see the consequences of the unknown in the form of plagues. In any serious strategic studies must begin with this book.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius: The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius  wrote this book more than 2500 years ago. Meditations remains one of the world’s most famous and influential practical Stoic philosophical books in existence. It is practical and guidance that Marcus used to cope with his life as a warrior and administrator of an empire.

Strategy: A History by Sir Lawrence Freedman: is Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King’s College London.  According to Wikipedia he has been described as the “dean of British strategic studies”. This book is definitive guide of the prominent strategic theories in history.

The 100: A Ranking Of The Most Influential Persons In History by Michael H. Hart: The author is an American Astrophysicist and there is no question the book will help you hone your strategic skills by reading the life and works of these 100 influential people in history.

In Business As In Life – You Don’t Get What You Deserve, You Get What You Negotiate (1996) by Dr. Chester L. Karrass:  Dr. Karrass has been engaged in research and teaching of the subject of negotiations for over 45 years. The book is important in that it deals both  tactics and strategies and will definitely help you to become a better negotiator, and to understand the intricacies of negotiation. There are many obvious things for the seasoned executive but it is an essential read in this regard nonetheless.

Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday: Ryan Holiday is self-taught polymath and comes from the school of Stoic thought. History will tell, but I do believe this book is a great books in business and personal strategy. According to Ryan “Many of us insist the main impediment to a full, successful life is the outside world. In fact, the most common enemy lies within: our ego. Early in our careers, it impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. With success, it can blind us to our faults and sow future problems. In failure, it magnifies each blow and makes recovery more difficult. At every stage, ego holds us back.” In fact, if ego is not checked it can ruin not only the leader but can ruin an entire organization, nation or continent.


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