My distractions

On Grand Strategy

This book was interesting to me as I love strategy in general. I think it reads more like a textbook with some illustrative stories, but if you enjoy the ideas of strategy, it will be a good read.

I listened to the audiobook version of On Grand Strategy by John Lewis Gaddis.

Self identification of foxes (better predictors - self-critical thinkers) vs hedgehogs (play well with soundbites).

Sports help us learn strategies. Coaches today do what drill sergeants used to when military training was mandatory:

Without a sense of the past, the future will only be loneliness.

Octavian (seized opportunities while retaining objectives; he saw next steps and stuck to compass heading) vs Perecles (forged from contingent events causal chains)

Don't confuse aspirations with capabilities - Octavian vs Alexander (who did)

Augustine (hedgehog) vs Machiavelli (fox)

Why Christians entrust authority to sinners (politics): needs protection to flourish - The city of God is a fragile structure within the sinful city of Man.

Lightness of being: If you cannot find the good in bad things, at least remain afloat among them. Don't sweat it! Be like Machiavelli.

Internal equilibrium where competition strengthens community - from Augustine and Machiavelli to USA founding fathers.

How classical thinkers influenced the founders of the USA.

Statecraft can never balance realism vs idealism - only competing realisms. No contest between politics and morality - there is only politics. Anchorites can always practice their virtues in the desert, while martyrs can obtain their reward hereafter.

Theory = training

Hardens the body for great exertions; Strengthens the heart in great peril, and fortifies judgement against first impressions. Lubricant that reduces friction. Breeds calmness. Trouble comes not from embracing theory but doing so too tightly.

Lincoln - started small, rose slowly, only when ready aimed for the top. Ambitions grew as opportunities expanded. Seek to be underestimated.

Space is where expectations and circumstances intersect.

Temperament makes the difference between slips and safe arrivals.

Xerxes couldn't contain his ambitions; Artibonis couldn't conquer his fears - Both yielded to intemperance.

Perecles shifted from tolerance to repression followed by Athens.

Octavian rose by self teaching self control; Antony sank by forgetting it.

Augustine and Machiavelli developed the heavy and light hands that King Philip (micromanaged empire) and Queen Elizabeth (delegating leadership) shaped different new worlds.

Napoleon lost empire by confusing aspirations with capabilities; Lincoln saved his country by not

Wilson (the builder) disappointed his generation ; FDR (the juggler) surpased his generations expectation


beekeeping booklists chess economics family how-to life music philosophy productivity quotes race-plans race-results races runs stoic sundays sundays, quotes