The 33 Strategies of War Summary

“The 33 Strategies of War” is a book by Robert Greene that explores the tactics and strategies used in warfare and how they can be applied to everyday life.

The book is divided into five sections, each covering different types of warfare:

  • Self-directed warfare
  • Organizational warfare
  • Offensive warfare
  • Defensive warfare, and
  • Unconventional warfare

Here is a brief summary of each strategy:

Section 1: Self-Directed Warfare

Declare War on Yourself: Identify and overcome your own weaknesses and limitations.

Do Not Fight the Last War: Avoid relying on past success and instead adapt to new situations.

Amidst the Turmoil of Events, Do Not Lose Your Presence of Mind: Stay calm and composed in the midst of chaos.

Create a Sense of Urgency and Desperation: Generate a sense of urgency to motivate action and drive success.

Avoid the Snare of Groupthink: Encourage individual thinking and avoid conformity.

Section 2: Organizational Warfare

Segment Your Forces: Divide and conquer by breaking your enemy’s forces into smaller groups.

Transform Your War into a Crusade: Give your team a greater purpose beyond just winning the battle.

Pick Your Battles Carefully: Choose your battles wisely and focus on those that will bring the most benefit.

Do Not Fight a Battle of Containment: Avoid being on the defensive and instead be aggressive in your actions.

Know Your Enemy: Understand your enemy’s strengths and weaknesses to gain an advantage.

Section 3: Offensive Warfare

Overwhelm Resistance with Speed and Suddenness: Attack with speed and surprise to overwhelm your enemy.

Control the Dynamic: Be the one to set the tone and control the flow of the battle.

Hit Them Where it Hurts: Identify your enemy’s weak points and target them to gain an advantage.

Defeat Them in Detail: Break down your enemy’s forces and defeat them one by one.

Expose and Attack Your Enemy’s Soft Flank: Target the weaker areas of your enemy’s defenses.

Section 4: Defensive Warfare

The Best Defense is an Offensive Defense: Be aggressive in your defense to keep the enemy on the back foot.

Extend Your Lines of Defense: Create multiple layers of defense to make it harder for the enemy to penetrate.

Betray Your Allies: Use deception and misdirection to confuse your enemy.

Create a False Sense of Security: Lull your enemy into a false sense of security to catch them off, guard.

Seem to Work for the Interests of Others While Furthering Your Own: Work towards your own goals while appearing to serve others.

Section 5: Unconventional Warfare

The Guerilla-War-of-the-Mind Strategy: Use psychological warfare to gain an advantage.

Soften Them Up: Weaken your enemy before the main battle by attacking their allies or resources.

Dance with the Giants: Use your smaller size to your advantage by avoiding direct confrontation.

Create a Threatening Presence: Use fear and intimidation to gain an advantage.

Trade Space for Time: Give up ground to your enemy to buy time and gain an advantage later.

The 33 Strategies of War Lessons

“The 33 Strategies of War” by Robert Greene offers valuable insights into the tactics and mindset necessary for success in different aspects of life.

The book emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and adaptability. Understanding your own strengths, weaknesses, and limitations is crucial for personal growth and achievement.

It encourages individuals to avoid relying on past successes or fixed strategies and instead be adaptable and flexible in their approach to various situations.

Another key lesson is the significance of maintaining composure and a sense of urgency.

Staying calm and composed in chaotic situations allows for clear thinking and rational decision-making.

Cultivating a sense of urgency motivates action and helps individuals stay focused on their objectives.

The book also highlights the importance of independent thinking and avoiding groupthink.

Embracing diverse perspectives and encouraging individual thinking leads to creativity and innovation.

It is essential to analyze and break down complex problems or formidable opponents into smaller, manageable parts to increase the chances of success.

Strategies for offensive and defensive warfare are discussed, emphasizing the need to strike with speed and surprise, target weaknesses, and control the narrative.

Effective defense involves being proactive, establishing multiple layers of defense, and employing deception and misdirection.

The book also explores unconventional warfare, emphasizing psychological tactics, strategic betrayal, and the exploitation of weaknesses.

Lessons on diplomacy and persuasion highlight the importance of building alliances, understanding the power of influence, and mastering the art of persuasion.

The book also emphasizes the value of balance, such as balancing confidence with humility and knowing when to trade space for time.

The 33 Strategies of War Book Review

“The 33 Strategies of War” is a highly regarded book that explores the strategies and tactics used in warfare and their application to various aspects of life, including business, politics, and personal relationships.

Robert Greene draws upon historical examples, military campaigns, and influential leaders to illustrate each strategy in action.

One of the strengths of the book is its comprehensive approach.

Greene covers a wide range of strategies, from self-directed warfare to unconventional warfare, providing readers with a broad understanding of different approaches to conflict and competition.

Each strategy is explained in detail and accompanied by historical anecdotes and examples, making the book engaging and thought-provoking.

Many readers appreciate the practicality of the book, as it offers valuable insights and guidance for navigating complex situations.

The strategies presented in the book can be applied not only in traditional warfare but also in everyday life, enabling readers to gain a competitive edge in their chosen fields.

However, it is worth noting that some readers have criticized the book for its emphasis on manipulation and the amoral nature of some strategies.

The focus on deception, psychological warfare, and strategic betrayal may not resonate with everyone, as some readers may prefer a more ethical approach to conflict resolution and personal growth.


Overall, “The 33 Strategies of War” offers a comprehensive guide to strategic thinking and effective action.

It teaches individuals to continuously learn, adapt, and refine their strategies while remaining disciplined and focused on their objectives.

By applying these lessons to various aspects of life, readers can enhance their decision-making abilities and achieve greater success.

It is considered a valuable resource for those interested in strategic thinking, leadership, and achieving success in various domains.

It provides historical insights and practical lessons that can be applied in different contexts, but readers should approach it critically and be mindful of their own personal values and ethical considerations.

The book also provides a comprehensive overview of different tactics and strategies that can be applied to various situations in life, from personal development to business and politics.

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