This book changed the way I view military strategy and history, and gave me a whole new perspective on Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Napoleon, Ghengis Khan, and others. The author takes a look at both sides - what the great Generals did right and what others did that cost them battles, and the basic principals are deceptively simple: Never hit the enemy head on and avoid the fight until the odds are in your favor.
This may seem basic, but when the U.S. military command in Vietnam had a "football field" mentality about the campaign (and even named battles after football plays), you get a sense of why we lost. Great Generals force the enemy into disadvantages positions and hit the weak areas to force the enemy to abandon their positions and react to them. They flee when they need to, and attach from the corners when it is in their best interest.
The author provides plenty of fascinating examples and narratives throughout history, and the book is well paced and easy to listen to. One of my favorites!
This work is a great follow up on Jim Collins previous work "Good to Great" and "Built to Last". Jim takes a look at several companies during a specific performance period (akin to examining a sports team during a specific coach's reign), and discovers a few surprising findings that go against the typical "business press" version of what it takes to build a great company. Surprise! Great companies are disciplined, methodical, empirical. They take their time making decisions, and make lots of small investments and send up trial balloons before committing the entire Enterprise. Some of this is common sense, except that you see the opposite behavior from many companies: Over-emphasis on innovation, big bets, rapid decision making, risky behavior and constant strategy changes. Collins drives a stake right through the heart of that strategy.
As a bonus, Jim Collins narrates the book himself and spends a bit time explaining their methodology, what findings surprised them and why, He is an excellent and interesting narrator, and I found this audio book easy to listen to.
Overall, I think this book is a must read for business professionals to bring things back to fundamentals and avoid the knee jerk reactions and panic that seem to be the business norm in so many organizations today.
After 4 hours of listening, I had to give up on the audio version of this book as I could no longer stand the author's narration. He seems surprised by his own sentance structure, mumbles words, stumbles often, and seems to lose interest while reading his own material. I borrowed the print version from my local library, which made it easier to skim and focus on relevant sections.
This series is more of a motivational seminar than anything resembling business training. The production is British, so many of the entrepreneur's who are interviewed have British heavy accents that may be difficult to understand for Americans. A better title for this series would be something related to the "Building the Entreprenurial mindset - developing the motivation to succeed on your own." The interviews are interesting, and the narration is good, however each segment is constantly interrupted by this annoying musical "break", that begins to get on your nerves after a few hours. If you'd be shocked and surprised to hear that successful entrepreneurs need to be passionate, committed, energetic, and have integrity than this course is definitley for you. If you already knew that, you might wish to keep looking.
I suspect a few of the reviews praising this work may have been seeded, so I felt compelled to speak up. To call this book journalism is ridiculous. If you hate the Bush(s), this book is more fuel for the fire. If you like the Bush family, you already know you won't like what the author has to say. However, if you're looking for an objective view of the White House administration and real world insights, this work isn't a credible source. It's entertainment, pure and simple. Ancedotes and witty commentary, disguised as "insight". The author should be ashamed to use her journalistic credentials to push a political agenda. I can get an opinion about the Bush administration just about anywhere. The truth is much harder to find.
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