Robert Greene Shows You How To Use "The Force" To Battle Evil

Hey You,

It’s Lewis aka Nerd #2.

If you’ve spent any amount of time with me here, you know I’m a raving fan of what Robert Greene can do to enhance the quality of your life.

I’ve written about his ‘48 Laws of Power’, ‘The Art of Seduction’ and his ‘50th Law’ books on this site over the years.

And after years of owning his ‘The 33 Strategies Of War’ book, I’ve finally have started reading and listening to it after hearing an old interview that Dave Lakhani did with Robert about it back in 2006.

Now that I’ve dug in, I couldn’t wait to share it with you. So what I’ve done is sat here and taken almost 3 hours to type out the incredible introduction to the book that lets you know all of the awesomeness you can expect to experience when you dive into it.

You’ll about to see what this book is necessary reading for anyone with a pulse who’s interested in overcoming the fear of rejection, fear of failure, and fear of being wrong.

With that said, let the party begin…

 We live in a culture that promotes democratic values of being fair to one and all, the importance of fitting into a group, and knowing how to cooperate with other people.

We are taught early on in life that those who are outwardly combative and aggressive pay a social price: unpopularity and isolation. These values of harmony and cooperation are perpetuated in subtle and not-s0-subtle ways – through books on how to be successful in life; through the pleasant, peaceful exteriors that those who have gotten ahead in the world present to the public; through notions of correctness that saturate the public space.

The problem for us is that we are trained and prepared for peace, and we are not at all prepared for what confronts us in the real world war.

The life of man upon earth is a warfare – Job 7:1

This war exists on several levels.

Most obviously, we have our rivals on the other side. The world has become increasingly competitive and nasty. In politics, business, even the arts, we face opponents who will do almost anything to gain an edge.

More troubling and complex, however are the battles we face with those who are supposedly on our side. There are those who outwardly play the team game, who act very friendly and agreeable, but who sabotage su behind the scenes, use the group to promote their own agenda.

Others more difficult to spot, play subtle games of passive aggression, offering help that never comes, instilling guilt as a secret weapon. On the surface everything seems peaceful enough, but just below it, it is every man and woman for him or herself, this dynamic infecting even families and relationships.

The culture may deny this reality and promote a gentler picture, but we know it and feel it, in our battle scars.

It is not that we and our colleagues are ignoble creatures who fail to live up to ideals of peace and selflessness, but that we cannot help the way we are. We have aggressive impulses that are impossible to ignore or repress.

In the past, individuals could expect a group – the state, an extended family, a company – to take care of them, but this is no longer the case, and in this uncaring world we have to think first and foremost of ourselves and our interests.

What we need are not impossible and inhuman ideals of peace and cooperation to live up to, and the confusion that brings us, but rather practical knowledge on how to deal with conflict and the daily battles we face.

And this knowledge is not about how to be more forceful in getting what we want or defending ourselves but rather how to be more rational and strategic when it comes to conflict, channeling our aggressive impulses instead of denying or repressing them.

If there is an ideal to aim for, it should be that of the strategic warrior, the man or woman who manages difficult situations and people through deft and intelligent maneuver.

Strategy is more than a science: it is the application of knowledge to practical life, the development of thought capable of modifying the original guiding idea in the light of ever changing situations; it is the art of acting under the pressure of the most difficult conditions. – Helmuth Von Mol Tke – 1800-1891

Many psychologists and sociologists have argued that it is through conflict that problems are often solved and real differences reconciled.

Our successes and failures in life can be traced to how well or how badly we deal with the inevitable conflicts that confront us in society. The common ways that people deal with them – trying to avoid all conflict, getting emotional and lashing out, turning sly and manipulative – are all counter productive in the long run because they are not under conscious and rational control and often make the situation worse.

Strategic warriors operate much differently. They think ahead toward their long term goals, decide which fights to avoid and which are inevitable, know how to control and channel their emotions. When forced to fight, they do so with indirection and subtle maneuver, making their manipulations hard to trace. In this way they can maintain the peaceful exterior cherished in these political times.

The self is the friend of a man who masters himself through the self, but for a man without self-mastery, the self is like an enemy at war.  The Bhagavad Gita, circa A.D. First Century

War is not some separate realm divorced from the rest of society.

It is an eminently human arena, full of the best and the worst of our nature. War also reflects trends in society. The evolution toward more unconventional, dirtier strategies – guerilla warfare, terrorism – mirrors a similar evolution in society where almost anything goes.

The strategies that succeed in war, whether conventional or unconventional, are based on timeless psychology, and great military failures have much to teach us about human stupidity and the limits of force in any arena. The strategic ideal in war – being supremely rational and emotionally balanced., striving to win with minimum bloodshed and loss of resources – has infinite application and relevance to our daily battles.

Inculcated with the values of our times, many will argue that organized war is inherently barbaric – a relic of man’s violent past and something to be overcome for good.

To promote the arts of warfare in a social setting, they will say, is to stand in the way of progress and to encourage conflict and dissension. Isn’t there enough of that in the world?

The argument is very seductive, but not at all reasonable.

There will always be those in society and in the world at large who are more aggressive than we are, who find ways to get what they want, by hook or by crook. We must be vigilant and must know how to defend ourselves against such types.Civilized value are not furthered if we are forced to surrender to those who are crafty and strong. In being pacifists in the face of such wolves is the source of endless tragedy.

Nature has made up her mind that what cannot defend itself shall not be defended. – Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882

Mahatma Gandhi, who elevated nonviolence into a great weapon for social change, had one simple goal later on in his life: to rid India of the British overlords who had crippled it for so many centuries.

The British were clever rulers. Gandhi understood that if nonviolence were to work, it would have to be extremely strategic demanding much thought and planning. He went so far as to call nonviolence a new way of waging war.

To promote any value, even peace and pacifism, you must be willing to fight for it and to aim at results – not simply the good, the warm feeling that expressing such ideas might bring you. The moment you aim for results, you are in the realm of strategy.

War and strategy have an inexorable logic: if you want or desire anything, you must be ready and able to fight for it.

Others will argue that war and strategy are primarily matters that concern men, particularly those who are aggressive or among the power elite.

The study of war and strategy, they will say, is a masculine, elitist, and repressive pursuit, a way for power to perpetuate itself. Such an argument is dangerous nonsense.

In the beginning, strategy indeed belonged to a select few – a general, his staff, the king, a handful of courtiers. Soldiers were not taught strategy, for that would not have helped them on the battlefield. Besides, it was unwise to arm one’s soldiers with the kind of practical knowledge that could help them to organize a mutiny or rebellion.

The era of colonialism took this principle further: the indigenous peoples of Europe’s colonies were conscripted into the Western armies and did much of the police work, but even those who rose to the upper echelons were rigorously kept ignorant of knowledge of strategy, which is considered far too dangerous for them to know.

To maintain strategy and the arts of war as a branch of specialized knowledge is actually to play into the hands of the elites and repressive powers, who like to divide and conquer.

If strategy is the art of getting results, of putting ideas into practice, then it should be spread far and wide, particularly among those who have been traditionally kept ignorant of it, including women.

In the mythologies of almost all cultures, the great gods of war are women, including Athena of ancient Greece. A woman’s lack of interest in strategy and war is not biological but social and perhaps political.

Instead of resisting the pull of strategy and the virtues of rational warfare or imagining that it is beneath you, it is far better to confront it’s necessity.

Mastering the art will only make your life more peaceful and productive in the long run, for you will know how to play the game and win without violence. Ignoring it will lead to a life of endless confusion and defeat.

The following are six fundamental ideals you should aim for in transforming yourself into a strategic warrior in daily life…

#1. Look At Things As They Are, Not As your Emotions Color Them

In strategy you must see your emotional responses to events as a kind of disease that must be remedied.

Fear will make you overestimate the enemy and act too defensively. Anger and impatience will draw you into rash actions that will cut off your options. Overconfidence, particularly as a result of success, will make you go too far. Love and affection will blind you to the treacherous maneuvers of those apparently on your side.

Even the subtlest gradations of these emotions can color the way you look at events. The only remedy is to be aware that the pull of emotion is inevitable, to notice it when it is happening, and to compensate for it.

When you have success, be extra wary. When you are angry, take no action. When you are fearful, know you are going to exaggerate the dangers you face.

War demands the utmost in realism, seeing things as they are. The more you can limit or compensate for your emotional responses, the closer you will come to this ideal.

2. Judge People By Their Actions

The brilliance of warfare is that no amount of eloquence or talk can explain away a failure on the battlefield.

A general has led his troops to defeat, lives have been wasted, and that is how history will judge him. You must strive to apply this ruthless standard in your daily life.

Judging people by the results of their actions, the deeds that can be seen and measured, the maneuvers thy have used to gain power.

What people say about themselves does not matter; people will say anything. Look at what they have done; deeds do not lie. You must also apply this logic to yourself. In looking back at defeat, you must identify the things you could have done differently.

It is your own bad strategies, not the unfair opponent, that are to blame for your failures. You are responsible for the good and bad in your life.

As a corollary to this, look at everything other people do as a strategic maneuver, an attempt to gain victory. People who accuse you of being unfair, for example, who try to make you feel guilty, who talk about justice and morality, are trying to gain an advantage on the chessboard.

3. Depend On Your Own Arms

In search for success in life, people tend to rely on things that seem simple and easy or that have worked before.

This could mean accumulating wealth, resources, a large number of allies, or the latest technology and the advantage it brings. This is being materialistic and mechanical.

But true strategy is psychological – a matter of intelligence, not material force. Everything in life can be taken away from you and generally will be at some point.

Your wealth vanishes, the latest gadgetry suddenly becomes passé, your allies desert you. But if your mind is armed with the art of war, there is no power that can take that away. In the middle of a crisis, your mind will find it’s way to the right solution.

Having superior strategies at your fingertips will give your maneuvers irresistible force. As Sun-tzu says, “Being unconquerable lies with yourself.”

4. Worship Athena, not Ares

In the mythology of ancient Greece, the cleverest immortal of them all was the goddess Metia.

To prevent her from outwitting and destroying him, Zeus married her, then swallowed her whole, hoping to incorporate her wisdom in the process. But Metia was pregnant with Zeus’s child, the goddess Athena, who was subsequently born from his forehead.

As befitting her lineage, she was blessed with the craftiness of Metia and the warrior mentality of Zeus. She was deemed by the Greeks to be the goddess of strategic warfare, her favorite mortal and acolyte being the crafty Odysseus.

Ares was the god of war in it’s direct and brutal form. The Greeks despised Ares and worshipped Athena, who always fought with the utmost intelligence and subtlety.

Your interest in war is not the violence, the brutality, the waste of lives and resources, but the rationality and pragmatism it forces on us and the ideal of winning without bloodshed.

The Ares figures of the world of the world are actually quite stupid and easily misled. Using the wisdom of Athena, your goal is to turn the violence and aggression of such types against them, making their brutality the cause of their downfall.

Like Athena, you are always one step ahead, making your moves more indirect. Your goal is to blend philosophy and war, wisdom and battle, into an unbeatable blend.

5. Elevate Yourself Above The Battlefield

In war, strategy is the art of commanding the entire military operation.

Tactics, on the other hand, is the skill of forming up the army for battle itself and dealing with the immediate needs of the battlefield.

Most of us in life are tacticians, not strategists. We become so enmeshed in the conflicts we face that we can think only of how to get what we want in the battle we are currently facing.

To think strategically is difficult and unnatural. You may imagine you are being strategic, but in all likelihood you are merely being tactical. To have the power that only strategy can bring, you must elevate yourself above the battlefield, to focus on your long-term objectives, to craft an entire campaign, to get out of the reactive mode that so many battles in life lock you into.

Keeping your overall goals in mind, it becomes much easier to decide when to fight and when to walk away. That makes the tactical decisions of daily life much simpler and more rational.

Tactical people are heavy and stuck in the ground; strategists are light on their feet and can see far and wide.

6. Spiritualize Your Warfare

Every day you face battles – that is the reality for all creatures in their struggle to survive.

But the greatest battle of all is with yourself – your weaknesses, you emotions, you lack of resolution in seeing things through to the end. You must declare unceasing war on yourself.

As a warrior in life, you welcome combat and conflict as ways to prove yourself, to better your skills, to gain courage, confidence, and experience.

Instead of repressing your doubts and fears, you must face them down, do battle with them. You want more challenges, and you invite more war. You are forging the warrior’s spirit, and only constant practice will lead you there.

The 33 Strategies of War is a distillation of the timeless wisdom contained in the lessons and principles of warfare. The book is designed to arm you with practical knowledge that will give you endless options and advantages in dealing with the elusive warriors that attack you on a daily basis.

Each chapter is a strategy aimed at solving a particular problem that you will often encounter.

Such problems include fighting with an unmotivated army behind you; wasting energy by battling on too many fronts; feeling overwhelmed by friction; the discrepancy between plans and reality; getting into situations you cannot get out of.

You can read the chapters that apply to the particular problem of the moment. Better still, you can read all of the strategies, absorb them allowing them to become part of your mental arsenal.

Even when you are trying to avoid a war, not fight one, many of these strategies are worth knowing for defensive purposes and for making yourself aware of what the other side might be up to.

In any event, they are not intended as doctrine or formulas to be repeated but as aids to judgment in the heat of battle, seeds that will take root in you and help you think for yourself, developing the latent strategist within.

The strategies themselves are culled from the writings and practices of the greatest generals in history (Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Genghis Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte, Shaka Zulu, William Techumseh Sherman, Erwin Rommel, Vo Nguyen Giap) as well as the greatest strategists (Sun-tzu, Miyamoto Musashi, Carl von Clausewitz, Ardant du Picq, T.E. Lawrence, Colonel John Boyd).

They range from the classical warfare to the dirty, unconventional strategies of modern times.

The book is divided into five parts: self-directed war (how to prepare your mind and spirit for battle; organizational war (how to structure and motivate your army); defensive war; offensive war; and unconventional (dirty) war.

Each chapter is illustrated with historical examples, not only from warfare itself but from politics (Margaret Thatcher), culture (Alfred Hitchcock), sports (Muhammad Ali), business (John D. Rockefeller), showing the intimate connection between the military and the social.

These strategies can be applied to the struggles of every scale; organized warfare, business battles, the politics of a group, even personal relationships.

Without war human beings stagnate in comfort and affluence and lose the capacity for great thoughts and feelings, they become cynical and subside into barbarism. Fyodor Dostoyevsky 1821-1881

Finally, strategy is an art that requires not only a different way of thinking but an entirely different approach to life itself.

Too often there is a chasm between our ideas and knowledge on the one hand and our actual experience on the other. We absorb trivia and information that takes up mental space but gets us nowhere.

We read books that divert us but have little relevance to our daily lives. We have lofty ideas that we do not put into practice. We also have many rich experiences that we do not analyze enough, that do not inspire us with ideas, who lessons we ignore.

Strategy requires a constant contact between the two realms.

It is practical knowledge of the highest form. Events in life mean nothing if you do not reflect on them in a deep way and ideas from books are pointless if they have no application to life as you live it.

In strategy all of life is a game that you are playing. This game is exciting but also requires deep and serious attention. The stakes are so high. What you know must translate into action, and action must translate into knowledge.

In this way strategy becomes a lifelong challenge and the source of constant pleasure in surmounting difficulties and solving problems.


There you have it.

The product of almost 3 hours worth of typing on my behalf to bring to you the overview of what this incredible resource promises you.

And this point you either know you want to dive into this book or not. My opinion is that you’d be insane not to drink from the fountain of wisdom that’s poured into this book as the result of 3 years of research and writing it took for Robert to get the strategies fine tuned from 52 to 33.

Wishing you the best in your daily battles,

Lewis LaLanne aka Note Taking Nerd #2