A treatise that might whet the appetite of readers looking for a more searching reflection on its subject.



An instruction manual that navigates the contours of guerrilla warfare.

Tucker’s inaugural effort covers, in 16 pithy chapters, nearly every subject relevant to understanding guerrilla tactics. The book looks at this peculiar brand of combat from a political, tactical, moral and even economic perspective. Along the way, the author discusses the nature of empire, espionage, arms acquisition and psychological warfare, as well as more philosophically charged topics, such as ideology, the guerrilla soldier as “lone wolf” and the nature of propaganda. In the spirit of Sun Tzu’s seminal The Art of War, Tucker fills each chapter with a numbered list of aphoristic expressions, each one rarely more than a sentence or two in length. As in Sun Tzu’s work, Tucker’s apothegms are often oblique, more poetical than conventional: “A guerrilla is the bullet from a sniper that strikes the head of an emperor.” Other times, the attention shifts away from strictly strategic concerns to issue moral pronouncements: “No excuses are accepted from the killers of babies and adolescents.” Sometimes the observations are so broad and obvious that they may fail to hold the reader’s attention: “When one nation becomes indebted to another, the creditor can influence the debtor’s policies.” This is a timely work, given the rise of terrorism throughout the world. However, it’s not a meticulous one, as the aphoristic method limits the author’s ability to rigorously discuss its bold, sweeping declarations, such as, “War is waged on an enemy for three reasons: riches, power, & respect.” The book also might have benefited from a discussion of the rich tradition of similar works that preceded it, and the analysis could have been greatly sharpened if it used real-world historical examples to substantiate its claims.

A treatise that might whet the appetite of readers looking for a more searching reflection on its subject.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1497537088

Page Count: 142

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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