You can take a traditional approach, reading the sections in numerical
sequence; or you can read the author’s preface, the first seven-fifteen sections,
then the last several, then the middle (say 68-76), then skip around.
Going backwards from 144 to 1 will work, or you can peruse the Contents
and go to whatever sections interest you, which I hope will be all of them.
Some of the sections have expansive titles like Legitimacy or Human
Rights. They aren’t intended to encapsulate those subjects, but just tie those
themes to the book’s central assertions. Other titles, like Dogs and Mules,
or Forts and Walls, or Poop are less abstract, but relate to the same assertions.
Those assertions, or propositions, include:
• An impunity-based definition of State success;
• Attention to anonymity as a competitive emphasis;
• Inventorying as an indispensable knowledge activity;
• Withdrawal and pursuit as key operational and strategic concepts;
• Deception as a compulsory element of strategic thinking;
• Geography as the academic discipline of choice;
• Property analysis as tool for exposing the distribution of power;
• Distance as a key variable in the measurement of relative power;
• Civil engineering and construction as noble activities;
• Personal dignity and honor as key quantities of a durable victory;
• Adaptation of classic strategy as operational artistry; and
• Formal property regimes as a basis of peaceful social compacts.
‘Winning’ means not just neutralizing your enemies, but doing so
without creating more of them. It may also mean building places that do not
Building such places requires that ideology, political philosophy,
epistemology, engineering, and shooting all get along, so the book assumes
these things cannot be distanced one from another. Below each section is a
joke, quotation, or piece of poetry. They are interrelated in a way similar to
the text, and with the text. They are like the fins on a `60 Cadillac.