When I was about twelve, my parents gave me a fifteen-volume set of Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia. I thought I was supposed to read it straight through, so I did, and then tried to make sense of the whole thing as one big idea. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Those who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.” I like this sort of thing.

Sir Lawrence Freedman’s 750-page magnum opus, Strategy: A History, is encyclopedic, although not alphabetical, a pleasure to dip into here and there to get a carefully considered summary briefing on the strategy of the Hebrew Bible, the 1815 Congress of Vienna, Jane Addams, Black Power, or the strange array of social science attempts to redefine human behavior as a contribution to strategy. Everybody talks about strategy, but no one seems to know what it is. But now there are no...


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