Welcome to the True Christian Book Club, where we read/listen a book one piece at a time and comment on it. I will do more of this when I find a book people are interested in. Or at least a good book. The 33 Strategies Of War is not a good book.

On Self-Help and advice books

It's not strategy, it's a bunch of pep-talks. A bunch of contradictory pep-talks. "Always, always, always do this, except when you should do the complete opposite."

"Chapter one: always, always, always bet on Heads when you toss a coin. Except when you should choose Tails. Chapter Two: always, always, always bet on Tails when you toss a coin. Except when you should choose Heads."

Now, all of this should be familiar to anyone who has ever read an advice/self-help book. They are all like this, and they only sell so many copies because pep-talks tend to wear off in about the same amount of time it took to deliver the pep-talk in the first place. The amount of free time in which one is still peppy is only long enough for someone to buy the next book or sign up for the next seminar.

The only exception to the rule is Scott Adams (AKA the Dilbert guy) who was driven insane by the process of writing and selling a self-help book. He called his, of all things, "How to succeed by failing...." and then wondered why nobody bought it. He ended up concluding that socialists have made people stop wanting success (ignoring that other books in the genre are still selling, mostly because they don't have "Fail" in their titles). He then became a Trump supporter, and if this all sounds good so far, let me remind you that Scott Adams thinks he's a wizard and that Trump is also a wizard who controls people's minds with wizard-powers.

So, that's the rules of the game in the self-help genre: either regurgitate a bunch of contradictory and useless platitudes, or go insane and declare yourself a wizard.

A Grizzled Veteran Of The Cola Wars

Robert Greene has had many jobs, and that none of them involved anything military becomes obvious very fast. Heck, I'll give him one credit: at least he doesn't believe that the Spartans were all-conquering 300% heterosexual Gods of War. He seems to have read enough to know that Spartans where actually so gay their wives had to dress up like boys, and the Spartan empire was smaller the territory controlled by yo-yo-wielding Japanese schoolgirl gangs.

And don't even get me started on the modest clothing issue.

Grind 'em down with 496 pages, while dismissing attrition

So the fact that he doesn't have a crush on Spartans means he's actually read a few books. But that's all he's done. He does not seem to be aware of logistics, the word "siege" is used approximately once, and he dismisses attrition strategies even though that's how the vast majority of wars have been won. His advice to win a war is basically "okay, so you're a godlike super-ninja who can outsmart everyone and always get lucky as you take crazy risks, and you can do all sorts of unprecedented things and never suffer unintended consequences, right? Okay, work with that."

He has no advice for people who are unluckier, slower, stupider, or less adaptable than their enemies. Even though history shows most wars are won by those sorts of people. They muddle their way though, build a solid logistical foundation, acquire lots of artillery, figure out how to get the least unfavorable kill-ratio they can manage and then grind away until the enemy genius sees his luck run out.

Reality VS the Hollywood-Libertarian-Peptalker-industrial complex

That's the truth, but the truth makes for bad storytelling. So instead, almost every story involving violence tells the opposite: "A peaceful good guy finds himself in conflict with a bunch of violent bad guys. They have a contest to see who is better at violence. Turns out the guys who are better at violence end up losing the contest to see who is better at violence, and the guy who is not good at violence ends up winning the contest to see who is better at violence. The End."

Is Robert Greene a libertarian? Libertarians love talking about the metaphor where two wolves and a sheep vote on what to eat for lunch, and then the sheep shoots the wolves. Because in libertarian utopia sheep are better at fighting than wolves, even when outnumbered two to one?

Too many metaphors, not enough Bible

At the "dirty warfare" section, it becomes really noticeable that there has not been any Bible references yet, even though the Bible is filled with wars, in particular "dirty" ones. He says that things have gotten dirtier recently, even though these days armies can't even use tear gas.

Maybe he means "dirty" as in "the uniforms aren't all colorful and shiny like in Napoleon's day". Did I mention that Robert Greene is in love with Napoleon? I think he knows that Napoleon lost. I think he doesn't want his audience to know that Napoleon lost.

The reason I don't know what he means by "dirty" is because, while he's urging everyone to be rah-rah ruthless rah-rah, he doesn't really say what "ruthless" means. "I'm so badass, I'm vaguely alluding to vague forms of ruthlessness that I have to be vague about." If you're so badass, you'd nut up and tell us exactly what actions are within your comfort zone. Is torturing kittens going too far? How about puppies?

Only the dead have seen the end of this review

I'd like us to make our own "33 Strategies of Christian War", using examples from the Bible. The best part will be the lack of contradictions.