Conflict is dumb.
Whenever possible avoid it. Waging a “personal war” is a great way to waste time and drive yourself crazy. That said, trouble is often unavoidable.
As Kenny Rogers put it, “Sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man.”
And when this happens, you might as well know how to properly defend yourself. Your life depends on it.
Today’s article covers the best military and tactical books I read in 2017. These deal with everything hand-to-hand combat to political intrigue, to predicting your optimal strategy in any situation.
This is a short book (less than 40 pages), but it left a big impact on me.
Written during the Second World War, Combat Without Weapons is a simple how-to guide for unarmed combat.
The author, Captain E. Hartley Leather of the Royal Canadian Artillery, covers all the important hand-to-hand combat techniques (like disarming a gunman, breaking an attacker’s stranglehold, or parrying a knife wielder).
While this was interesting stuff (did you know that jabbing, not swinging is the proper way to use a staff in combat?) I especially liked psychological aspect of how to fight.
As the author explains:
In personal combat, as much as in the strategies of armies, the two chief elements of success are surprise and speed. It does not matter twopence what you do so long as you do it fast, and when you do it, do it as though your life depended on it, because it often does.
This is great advice no matter the situation.
Whether you’re dealing with real-life conflict, boxing, or playing poker, there’s nothing more devastating than an overwhelming surprise attack.
The majority of people fold under the slightest pressure. Doing the opposite often reveals that your enemy is nothing but a “glass cannon.” Capable of dishing out threats or attacks, but quick to crumble once the tables turn.
Combat Without Weapons takes about an hour to read and is well worth it.
There’s good, practical self-defense tips. Plus straightforward psychological advice on how to handle yourself when under attack.
The granddaddy of all political strategy.
I listened to The Prince on YouTube (here’s the link) over the summer, and thought it was great.
Despite being 500 years old, The Prince is still relevant. Most major powers (either nations or elite people), still use the same tactics described in this book.
Here are a few key points:
- Never reform things too much (people hate change and you create new enemies) – You see this a lot in politics. Many solvable issues get debated back and forth for decades, with little progress ever being made.
- “There is nothing more important than appearing to be religious” (i.e. why American politicians love pretending they’re Christians).
- Win by deception and trickery whenever possible.
- When forced to confront an enemy, make sure your attack is “so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.”
If you’ve never read before, The Prince pick up a copy. It’s a good primer on how politics works, and how to maneuver yourself when in the public eye.
This book’s title is incredibly misleading.
I’d always assumed The Art Of Seduction was a PUA title like The Game.
The Art Of Seduction is all about using charisma to win people over in a variety of settings, including political and social.
This is useful if you do anything in the public eye (like copywriting or sales). And there’s a ton of good information on making yourself more attractive to an audience.
Here are just a few of my favorite tips:
- Let others project their emotions.
Charismatic people tap into the repressed desires of others, acting as a sort of outlet for their audience to live out their secret desires. The whole entertainment industry is built around this concept.
Many popular movies, for example, act as wish-fulfillment for the viewer.
Think about he first Die Hard film and why it’s so popular. An ordinary working class American man stops a terrorist threat, saves his family, and rekindles his failing marriage.
Meanwhile, all the “elitist” characters (bureaucrats, snobby businessmen, reporters, etc) get their comeuppance when they fail to recognize that the protagonist was right about everything the entire time.
It’s a power fantasy that resonates with the masses.
- Insecurity is the least seductive trait.
People hate insecurity. And anyone who comes across as self-doubting or unsure of themselves will quickly lose their audience.
The 2016 election is a great example of this.
Specifically, Jeb Bush vs Donald Trump.
On paper, Jeb was a sure thing. Career politician, family man, noncontroversial.
But during debates and speeches, he came off as insecure and weak (reminding the audience to “please clap” for him). And this was amplified a million times when compared to Trump’s unshakable confidence.
- Never reveal what’s behind the curtain.
If you’re good at something, make people believe it’s magic.
The masses hate it when they learn that your talents and abilities came from years of hard work and practice.
This is why most successful people give out generic advice like “follow your dreams” or “do something your passionate about.” It’s more palatable than unveiling the grueling work that goes into developing a profitable skill set.
If you’ve never read The Art Of Seduction I highly suggest grabbing a copy.
It’s a deeply insightful book on persuading and “seducing” the masses.
Easily the most important book I read in 2017.
Thinking Strategically is a tough read, but worth it. The book is meant to improve your “Tactical I.Q.,” giving you an edge in business and daily life.
Essentially, this means that you’re able to make better decisions.
And one of the key ways to do this is to “look ahead and reason back.”
You predict the outcome of your decisions and then use this to calculate your best course of action.
Here’s a basic personal example.
In December, when BitCoin prices skyrocketed, to $11,000, I had two choices.
Hold my coins and hope the price continued rising, or sell off for 360% profit.
To determine the best option, I made a decision tree. This I something I learned about from the book, and it looked something like this.
- Option 1: Sell BitCoin, collect 360% gains, 0% risk.
- Option 2: Keep BitCoin, collect nothing, potentially high risk.
Written on paper, option one became the clear choice.
Rather than getting emotional and anticipating “future gains,” I sold off my crypto. One month later BitCoin prices dropped by 58%.
This is a simple example of something from this book, but it helped me avoid a massive financial crash.
Thinking Strategically is a dense read and quite challenging at times. However, the information does help improve your critical thinking and decision-making abilities.
As such, it’s well worth the challenge.