t is a great idea to make a list of books you would like to read. This way, when you do have time for reading, you have your selections ready to go. Reading is a great escape from the daily grind and can be an effective way to jumpstart your brain. It can also really help with trying to improve yourself in some way, whether that is professionally or personally. In this post, we will take a look at some best books on strategy and tactics that you may want to read.
Best Books on Strategy and Tactics: THE LIST
1. Leadership Strategy and Tactics | By Jocko Willink
The ultimate guide on leadership from the number-one New York Times best-selling co-author of Extreme Ownership.
In the military, a field manual provides instructions in simple, clear, step-by-step language to help soldiers complete their mission. In the civilian sector, books offer information on everything from fixing a leaky faucet to developing an effective workout program to cooking a good steak.
But what if you are promoted into a new position leading your former peers? What if you don’t get selected for the leadership position you wanted? How do you overcome imposter syndrome when you aren’t sure you should be leading? As a leader, how do you judiciously dole out punishment? What about reward? How do you build trust with your both your superiors and your subordinates? How do you deliver truthful criticism up and down the chain of command in a tactful and positive way?
These are all questions about leadership – the most complex of all human endeavors. And while there are books out there that provide solid leadership principles, books like Extreme Ownership and The Dichotomy of Leadership, there is no leadership field manual that provides a direct, situational, pragmatic how-to guide that anyone can instantly put to use.
Until now. Leadership Strategy and Tactics explains how to take leadership theory, quickly translate that theory into applicable strategy, and then put leadership into action at a tactical level. This audiobook is the solution that leaders at every level need – not just to understand the leadership game but also how to play the leadership game and win it.
2. The Art of War | By SunTzu
Sun Tzu Art of War book is an ancient military manual attributed by a Chinese military strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu (“Master Sun”, also spelled Sunzi). In this Art of War Full Book, it lays out 384 tactics in 13 strategies that will assist you in formulating a sound strategy and in avoiding mistakes in warfare by assuming you are a leader of an army.
For almost 1,500 years the Sun Tzu book was the lead text in an anthology and remains the most influential strategy text in East Asian warfare. It has also influenced both Eastern and Western military thinking, business tactics, legal strategy, lifestyles, and beyond.
What will you discover in Sun Tzu The Art of War?
In this Sun Tzu Art Of War Full Book you will :
1. EXPLORE detailed assessment and fundamental factors & elements that determine the outcomes of military engagements. By thinking, assessing, and comparing these points, a commander can calculate his chances of victory.
3. UNDERSTAND the source of strength as unity, not size, and discusses the five factors that are needed to succeed in any war. In order of importance, these critical factors are Attack, Strategy, Alliances, Army, and Cities.
4. ENCOUNTER the importance of recognizing strategic opportunities, and teaches not to create opportunities for the enemy.
5. AND many more…
Application of Sun Tzu Art of War outside the military
Principles in The Art of War have been applied to many fields well outside of the military. Much of the text is about how to fight wars without actually having to do battle: It gives tips on how to outsmart one’s opponent so that physical battle is not necessary. As such, it has found application as a training guide for many competitive endeavors that do not involve actual combat.
1. National Football League coach Bill Belichick is known to have read Sun Tzu Art Of War book and used its lessons to gain insights in preparing for games.
2. Sun Tzu’s book was introduced into Japan c.AD 760 and the book quickly became popular among Japanese generals. Through its later influence on Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu, significantly affected the unification of Japan in the early modern era.
3. The Art Of War book was released in 2014 as an e-book companion alongside the Art of War DLC for Europa Universalis IV, a PC strategy game by Paradox Development Studios, with a foreword by Thomas Johansson.
Sun Tzu The Art of War translated by Lionel Giles
The book, Art Of War Large Print edition you will be reading is about 381 pages in length translated by Giles with commentaries and historical references for better understanding. It is a 6 x 9 paperback in an ‘eye-friendly’ mode.
If you want to refresh your mind and start thinking about your strategy, get yourself Sun Tzu Art Of War from us today!
3. On War | By Carl von Clausewitz
A classic work of military strategy, On War, sets forth the theories and tactics of Carl von Clausewitz, a distinguished Prussian general who was notable for his roles in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The book covers a broad range of topics, including weapons, terrain, troops, and leadership, as well as the importance of defense over offense, the balance of power, and the subordination of war to politics. Praised for its timeless insights, Clausewitz’s treatise is often compared to the work of Machiavelli and Sun Tzu and remains relevant to military leaders today.
4. Strategy | By B. H. Liddell Hart
This is the classic book on war as we know it. During his long life, Basil H. Liddell Hart was considered one of the world’s foremost military thinkers. In his writing, he stressed movement, flexibility, and surprise. He saw that in most military campaigns, it was vital to take an indirect approach. Rather than attacking the enemy head-on, one must dislocate their psychological and physical balance. With key examples from World War I and World War II (think trench warfare vs Blitzkreig), Liddell Hart defines the practical principles of waging war—“Adjust your end to your means,” “Take a line of operation which offers alternate objectives”—and proves they are as fundamental in the worlds of politics and business as they are in warfare.
5. The 33 Strategies of War | By Robert Greene
33 Strategies of War is a comprehensive guide to the subtle social game of everyday life, informed by the most ingenious and effective military principles in war. It’s the I-Ching of conflict, the contemporary companion to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, and is abundantly illustrated with examples from history, including the folly and genius of everyone from Napoleon to Margaret Thatcher, Hannibal to Ulysses S. Grant, movie moguls to samurai swordsmen.
6. The Strategy and Tactics of Pricing
The Strategy and Tactics of Pricing explain how to manage markets strategically and how to grow more profitably. Rather than calculating prices to cover costs or achieve sales goals, students will learn to make strategic pricing decisions that proactively manage customer perceptions of value, motivate purchasing decisions, and shift demand curves.
This edition features a new discussion on harnessing concepts from behavioral economics as well as a more streamlined “value cascade” structure to the topics. Readers will also benefit from:
- Major revisions to almost half of the chapters, including an expanded discussion of big data analytics and a revised chapter on “Specialized Strategies,” which addresses timely technical issues like foreign exchange risks, reactions to market slumps, and managing transfer prices between independent profit centers.
- A completely rewritten chapter on “Creating a Strategic Pricing Capability,” which shows readers how to implement the principles of value-based, strategic pricing successfully in their organizations.
- In-chapter textboxes, updated to provide walk-through examples of current pricing challenges, revenue models enabled by an increasingly digital economy, and advances in buyer decision-making, explained through classic principles that still apply today.
- Chapter summaries and visual aids, which help readers grasp the theoretical frameworks and actionable principles of pricing analysis.
This comprehensive, managerially-focused text is a must-read for students and professionals with an interest in strategic marketing and pricing. A companion website features PowerPoint slides and an instructor’s manual, including exercises, mini-cases, and examination questions. The authors also provide a link to Deloitte’s Polaris analytical pricing software, helping students put theory into practice by exploring real-world scenarios.
7. Strategy | By Lawrence Freedman
In Strategy: A History, Sir Lawrence Freedman, one of the world’s leading authorities on war and international politics, captures the vast history of strategic thinking, in a consistently engaging and insightful account of how strategy came to pervade every aspect of our lives. The range of Freedman’s narrative is extraordinary, moving from the surprisingly advanced strategy practiced in primate groups, to the opposing strategies of Achilles and Odysseus in The Iliad, the strategic advice of Sun Tzu and Machiavelli, the great military innovations of Baron Henri de Jomini and Carl von Clausewitz, the grounding of revolutionary strategy in class struggles by Marx, the insights into corporate strategy found in Peter Drucker and Alfred Sloan, and the contributions of the leading social scientists working on strategy today. The core issue at the heart of strategy, the author notes, is whether it is possible to manipulate and shape our environment rather than simply become the victim of forces beyond one’s control. Time and again, Freedman demonstrates that the inherent unpredictability of this environment – subject to chance events, the efforts of opponents, the missteps of friends – provides strategy with its challenge and its drama. Armies or corporations or nations rarely move from one predictable state of affairs to another, but instead, feel their way through a series of stages, each one not quite what was anticipated, requiring a reappraisal of the original strategy, including its ultimate objective. Thus the picture of strategy that emerges in this book is one that is fluid and flexible, governed by the starting point, not the endpoint. A brilliant overview of the most prominent strategic theories in history, from David’s use of deception against Goliath, to the modern use of game theory in economics, this masterful volume sums up a lifetime of reflection on strategy.
8. Billion-Dollar Lessons | By Chunka Mui
In the 1960s, IBM CEO Tom Watson called an executive into his office after his venture lost $10 million. The man assumed he was being fired. Watson told him, “Fired? Hell, I spent $10 million educating you. I just want to be sure you learned the right lessons.”
In Billion Dollar Lessons, Paul Carroll and Chunka Mui draw on research into more than 750 business failures to reveal the misguided tactics that mire companies over and over. There are thousands of books about successful companies, but virtually none about the lessons to be learned from those that crash and burn.
- Lesson One: The cold hard facts are that between 1981 and 2006, 423 major companies with combined assets totaling $1.5 trillion filed for bankruptcy.
- Lesson Two: The number-one cause of failure was misguided strategy – not sloppy execution, poor leadership, or bad luck. These strategic errors include pursuing nonexistent synergies; moving into an “adjacent” market that isn’t really adjacent and buying more problems than efficiencies through misguided consolidation. Billion Dollar Lessons provides proven methods that managers, boards, and even investors can adopt to avoid making the same mistakes. It draws on vivid examples to help you thoroughly assess potentially disastrous strategies before they bring your company down.
Think of Billion Dollar Lessons as the flip side of Good to Great, but just as eye-opening and essential as that business classic. Billion Dollar Lessons will keep you from going from good to go.
9. The Strategy Paradox | By Michael Raynor
A compelling vision. Bold leadership. Decisive action. Unfortunately, these prerequisites of success are almost always the ingredients of failure, too. In fact, most managers seeking to maximize their chances for glory are often unwittingly setting themselves up for ruin. The sad truth is that most companies have left their futures almost entirely to chance, and don’t even realize it. The reason? Managers feel they must make choices with far-reaching consequences today but must base those choices on assumptions about a future they cannot predict. It is this collision between commitment and uncertainty that creates THE STRATEGY PARADOX.
This paradox sets up a ubiquitous but little-understood tradeoff. Because managers feel they must base their strategies on assumptions about an unknown future, the more ambitious of them hope their guesses will be right – or that they can somehow adapt to the turbulence that will arise. In fact, only a small number of lucky daredevils prosper, while many more unfortunate, but no less capable managers find themselves at the helms of sinking ships. Realizing this, even if only intuitively, most managers shy away from the bold commitments that success seems to demand, choosing instead timid, unremarkable strategies, sacrificing any chance at greatness for a better chance at mere survival.
Michael E. Raynor, the coauthor of the bestselling The Innovator’s Solution, explains how leaders can break this tradeoff and achieve results historically reserved for the fortunate few even as they reduce the risks they must accept in the pursuit of success. In the cutthroat world of competitive strategy, this is as close as you can come to getting something for nothing.
Drawing on leading-edge scholarship and extensive original research, Raynor’s revolutionary principle of Requisite Uncertainty yields a clutch of critical, counter-intuitive findings. Among them:
— The Board should not evaluate the CEO based on the company’s performance, but instead on the firm’s strategic risk profile
— The CEO should not drive results, but manage uncertainty
— Business unit leaders should not focus on execution, but on making strategic choices
— Line managers should not worry about strategic risk, but devote themselves to delivering on commitments
With detailed case studies of success and failure at Sony, Microsoft, Vivendi Universal, Johnson & Johnson, AT&T, and other major companies in industries from financial services to energy, Raynor presents a concrete framework for strategic action that allows companies to seize today’s opportunities while simultaneously preparing for tomorrow’s promise.
10. Strategy | By Stewart Clegg
Providing a fresh perspective on strategy from an organizational perspective through a discursive approach featuring key theoretic tenets, this text is also pragmatic and emphasizes the practices of strategy to encourage the reader to be open to a wider set of ideas, with a little more relevance, and with a cooler attitude towards the affordances of the digital world and the possibilities for strategy’s futures.
The key areas of Strategy take a critical stance in the new edition, and also include areas less evident in conventional strategy texts such as not-for-profit organizations, process theories, globalization, organizational politics, and decision-making as well as the futures of strategy.
11. Modern Strategy | By Colin Gray
Modern Strategy explains the permanent nature, but ever-changing character, of strategy in light of the whole strategic experience of the twentieth century. The book is a major contribution to the general theory of strategy; it makes sense of the strategic history of the twentieth century, and
provides an understanding of what that strategic history implies for the century to come.
The book offers a uniquely comprehensive analysis of the different facets of modern strategy. The classic writings of Carl von Clausewitz are reconsidered for their continuing relevance, while possible successors are appraised. In addition to arguing that Clausewitz figured out what strategy was,
and how it worked, the book probes deeply into strategy’s political, ethical, and cultural dimensions. The book explains how strategic behavior in the twentieth century has expanded from the two-dimensional world of the land and the surface of the sea, to include the ocean depths, the air, space,
and most recently the ‘cyberspace’ environments. It also offers detailed analyses both of nuclear matters and of the realm of irregular violence.
This is the first comprehensive account of all aspects of modern strategy since the Cold War ended and will be essential reading for all students of modern strategy and security studies.
12.The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China
One of the most profound studies of warfare ever written, The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China presents us with an Eastern tradition of strategic thought that emphasizes outwitting one’s opponent through speed, stealth, flexibility, and a minimum of force – an approach very different from that stressed in the West, where the advantages of brute strength have overshadowed more subtle methods.
Safeguarded for centuries by the ruling elites of imperial China, even in modern times, these writings have been known to only a handful of Western specialists. In this volume are seven separate essays, written between 500 B.C. and A.D. 700, that preserve the essential tenets of strategy distilled from the experience of the most brilliant warriors of ancient China. This accurate translation remedies a serious gap in Western knowledge of Asian thought. Based on the best available classical Chinese manuscripts, some only recently discovered by archaeologists, The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China is a uniquely important contribution to the world’s military literature and is essential reading for anyone interested in China’s rich cultural heritage or in the timeless principles of successful warfare strategy.
13. The Complete Roman Army | By Adrian Goldsworthy
The Roman army was one of the most successful fighting forces in history. Its organization and tactics were highly advanced and were unequaled until the modern era. Spectacular monuments to its perseverance and engineering skill are still visible today, most notably Hadrian’s Wall and the siegeworks around the fortress of Masada.
This book is the first to examine in detail, not just the early imperial army but also the citizens’ militia of the Republic and the army of the later Empire. The unprecedented scope and longevity of Roman military success are placed in the context of ordinary soldiers’ daily lives, whether spent in the quiet routine of a peaceful garrison or in arduous campaign and violent combat. Key battles and tactics are described, and there are brief biographies of the great commanders.
Drawing on archaeology, ancient art, and original documentary sources, this book presents the most convincing history ever published of the Roman army. 245 illustrations, 107 in color
14. Airpower Reborn | By John Andreas Olsen
Airpower Reborn offers a conceptual approach to warfare that emphasizes airpower’s unique capability to achieve strategic effects. Six world-leading theorists argue that a viable strategy must transcend the purely military sphere, view the adversary as a multi-dimensional system, and pursue systemic paralysis and strategic effects rather than military destruction or attrition.
The book is divided into three parts. The first section presents a historical perspective on airpower theory and airpower strategy, tracing their evolution from the 1920s to the 1980s. The second section contains in-depth examinations of the strategic concepts that John R. Boyd and John A. Warden developed in the 1980s and 1990s, with an emphasis on their contemporary relevance. The final section provides further context on modern airpower theory and strategy. Theory, in this setting, serves as the basic paradigm, strategy represents its generic, mechanisms-centered application, and plans of campaign constitute the specific steps for any given situation.
In short, the authors look beyond the land-centric, battlefield-oriented paradigm that has continued to dominate military theories and strategies long after airpower offered new options. The book acknowledges the essential role of advanced technology in improving airpower capabilities but emphasizes that air services must cultivate and harness the intellectual acumen of airmen and encourage officers and men to think conceptually and strategically about the application of aerospace power. Modern airpower can offer political decision-makers more and better options–provided the underlying strategy coherently links the application of airpower directly to the end-state objectives rather than limiting it to “the battle.”
The book recommends that all countries should consider establishing a dynamic and vibrant environment for mastering aerospace history, theory, strategy, and doctrine; a milieu for cultivating broader knowledge of and insight into airpower; and a setting in which airpower experts have the opportunity to communicate their narrative to politicians, the media, and fellow officers, and to interact to mutual benefit with experts from all sectors of governance. This effort should emphasize the potentially unique contribution of airpower to political objectives and joint operations, and in turn, connect to operational headquarters that do operational planning. Mastering such strategic thought lies at the heart of the military profession, but it requires in-depth knowledge and understanding of theory, strategy, and airpower, and transcends traditional metrics.
15. The Direction of War | By Hew Strachan
The wars since 9/11, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, have generated frustration and an increasing sense of failure in the West. Much of the blame has been attributed to poor strategy. In both the United States and the United Kingdom, public inquiries and defense think tanks have detected a lack of consistent direction, effective communication, and governmental coordination. In this important book, Sir Hew Strachan, one of the world’s leading military historians, reveals how these failures resulted from a fundamental misreading and misapplication of the strategy itself. He argues that the wars since 2001 have not in reality been as ‘new’ as has been widely assumed and that we need to adopt a more historical approach to contemporary strategy in order to identify what is really changing in how we wage war. If war is to fulfill the aims of policy, then we need first to understand war.
16. Makers of Modern Strategy
The essays in this volume analyze war, its strategic characteristics, and its political and social functions, over the past five centuries. The diversity of its themes and the broad perspectives applied to them make the book a work of general history as much as a history of the theory and practice of war from the Renaissance to the present. Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age takes the first part of its title from an earlier collection of essays, published by Princeton University Press in 1943, which became a classic of historical scholarship. Three essays are reprinted from the earlier book; four others have been extensively revised. The rest–twenty-two essays–are new.
The subjects addressed range from major theorists and political and military leaders to impersonal forces. Machiavelli, Clausewitz, and Marx and Engels are discussed, as are Napoleon, Churchill, and Mao. Other essays trace the interaction of theory and experience over generations–the evolution of American strategy, for instance, or the emergence of the revolutionary war in the modern world. Still, others analyze the strategy of particular conflicts–the First and Second World Wars–or the relationship between technology, policy, and war in the nuclear age. Whatever its theme, each essay places the specifics of military thought and action in their political, social, and economic environment. Together the contributors have produced a book that reinterprets and illuminates war, one of the most powerful forces in history and one that cannot be controlled in the future without an understanding of its past.
17. Good Strategy/Bad Strategy | By Richard Rumelt
Developing and implementing a strategy is the central task of a leader. A good strategy is a specific and coherent response to – and approach for – overcoming the obstacles to progress. A good strategy works by harnessing and applying power where it will have the greatest effect. Yet, Rumelt shows that there has been a growing and unfortunate tendency to equate Mom-and-apple-pie values, fluffy packages of buzzwords, motivational slogans, and financial goals with “strategy”.
In Good Strategy/Bad Strategy, he debunks these elements of “bad strategy” and awakens an understanding of the power of a “good strategy”. He introduces nine sources of power – ranging from using leverage to effectively focusing on growth – that are eye-opening yet pragmatic tools that can easily be put to work on Monday morning and use fascinating examples from business, nonprofit, and military affairs to bring its original and pragmatic ideas to life. The detailed examples range from Apple to General Motors, from the two Iraq wars to Afghanistan, from a small local market to Wal-Mart, from Nvidia to Silicon Graphics, from the Getty Trust to the Los Angeles Unified School District, from Cisco Systems to Paccar, and from Global Crossing to the 2007-08 financial crisis.
Reflecting an astonishing grasp and integration of economics, finance, technology, history, and the brilliance and foibles of the human character, Good Strategy/Bad Strategy stems from Rumelt’s decades of digging beyond the superficial to address hard questions with honesty and integrity.
18. Rules for Radicals | By Saul Alinksy
First published in 1971, Rules for Radicals is Saul Alinsky’s impassioned counsel to young radicals on how to effect constructive social change and know “the difference between being a realistic radical and being a rhetorical one.” Written in the midst of radical political developments whose direction Alinsky was one of the first to question, this volume exhibits his style at its best. Like Thomas Paine before him, Alinsky was able to combine, both in his person and his writing, the intensity of political engagement with an absolute insistence on rational political discourse and adherence to the American democratic tradition.
19. Boyd | By Robert Coram
John Boyd may be the most remarkable unsung hero in all of American military history. Some remember him as the greatest US fighter pilot ever – the man who, in simulated air-to-air combat, defeated every challenger in less than 40 seconds. Some recall him as the father of our country’s most legendary fighter aircraft – the F-15 and F-16. Still, others think of Boyd as the most influential military theorist since Sun Tzu. They know only half the story.
Boyd, more than any other person, saved fighter aviation from the predations of the Strategic Air Command. His manual of fighter tactics changed the way every air force in the world flies and fights. He discovered a physical theory that forever altered the way fighter planes were designed. Later in life, he developed a theory of military strategy that has been adopted throughout the world and even applied to business models for maximizing efficiency. On a personal level, Boyd rarely met a general he couldn’t offend. He was loud, abrasive, and profane. A man of daring, ferocious passion, and intractable stubbornness, he was that most American of heroes – a rebel who cared not for his reputation or fortune, but for his country.
Final Thoughts on the Best Books on Strategy and Tactics
Sun Tzu Art of War book is an ancient military manual attributed by a Chinese military strategist and philosopher. It lays out 384 tactics in 13 strategies that will assist you in formulating a sound strategy and in avoiding mistakes in warfare by assuming you are a leader of an army. The book was introduced into Japan AD 760 and the book quickly became popular among Japanese generals. It has found application as a training guide for many competitive endeavors that do not involve actual combat. National Football League coach Bill Belichick is known to have read the book and used it to gain insights in preparing for games.
Do you see a book that you think should be on the list? Let us know your feedback here.