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This essay is about power. Specifically, how and when to acquire it and (just as importantly) when not to attempt to acquire it.



Here’s one of Machiavelli’s most controversial ideas, explained through the rise to power of two men — Agathocles and Oliverotto da Fermo.



This is Machiavelli’s version of “beast mode”, explained with the aid of some Greek mythology and an equal dose of both strength and cunning.



Machiavelli advised against staying neutral in a conflict, stating that decisive and bold action is required to gain (or stay in) power. In his eyes, many leaders who try to stay neutral, end up being destroyed. This essay explains why.



A key idea from The Prince is for a leader to “be on the spot”. In order to hold onto power, Niccolò Machiavelli states it is a vital tool. Here we will explore why and how it can be interpreted in a modern context.



Sun Tzu said: What enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.



Using fire as a weapon is as old as war itself. The Egyptians used it, the Ancient Greeks used it, as did the Romans. Whilst Sun Tzu talks about attacking with fire literally, the takeaway from his words in this chapter is to use the environment to your advantage.



Sun Tzu said: The art of war recognises nine varieties of ground. When a chieftain is fighting in his own territory, it is dispersive ground. On dispersive ground, fight not.



Sun Tzu said: We may distinguish six kinds of terrain, to wit: (1) Accessible ground (2) entangling ground (3) temporizing ground (4) narrow passes (5) precipitous heights (6) positions at a great distance from the enemy.