As in his bestselling The 48 Laws of Power, Greene puts a modern spin on wisdom that has stood the test of history, only this time his role model is Sun Tzu rather than Machiavelli. The argument is fairly
standard: despite our most noble intentions, aggressive impulses that are impossible to ignore or repress make military combat a fitting metaphor for getting ahead in life. Greenes advice covers everything from steeling ones mind for battle to specific defensive and offensive tactics?notably, the final section on dirty warfare is one of the books longest. Historical lessons are outlined and interpreted, with amplifying quotations crammed into the margins. Not all of the examples are drawn from the battlefield; in one section, Greene skips nimbly from Lyndon Johnsons tenacity to Julius Caesars decisiveness, from Joan Crawfords refusal to compromise to Ted Williamss competitive drive. Alfred Hitchcock, he says, embodies the detached-Buddha tactic of appearing uninvolved while remaining in total control. The diversity of subject matter compensates for occasional lapses into stilted warriorese (arm yourself with prudence, and never completely lay down your arms, not even for friends). For those willing to embrace its martial conceit, Greenes compendium offers inspiration and entertainment in equal measure.