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#337 Napoleon's Maxims and Strategy
February 5th, 2024 | E337

What I learned from reading Roots of Strategy by Thomas R. Phillips and Napoleon and Modern War by Napoleon and Col. Lanza. 


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(0:01) Napoleon fought more battles than Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar combined.

(5:00) The Mind of Napoleon: A Selection of His Written and Spoken Words edited by J. Christopher Herold. (Founders #302)

(7:00) Insull: The Rise and Fall of A Billionaire Utility Tycoon by Forrest McDonald. (Founders #336)

(8:00) No one should believe more in your business than you do. If this is not the case you are in the wrong business.

(11:00) If you do everything you will win.

(13:00) Napoleon episodes: 

Napoleon: A Concise Biography by David Bell. (Founders #294) 

The Mind of Napoleon: A Selection of His Written and Spoken Words edited by J. Christopher Herold. (Founders #302) 

(14:00) What is the bigger number, five or one? One. One army, a real army, united behind one leader, with one purpose. A fist instead of 5 fingers. — Robert Baratheon in Game of Thrones (YouTube)

(17:00) Keep your forces united. Be vulnerable at no point. Bear down with rapidity upon important points. These are the principles which insure victory.

(17:00) Read over and over again the campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus, Turenne, Eugene and Frederic. Make them your models. This is the only way to become a great general and to master the secrets of the art of war. With your own genius enlightened by this study, you will reject all maxims opposed to those of these great commanders. [If Napoleon was alive you know he’d listen to Founders podcast]

(20:00) The Tao of Charlie Munger by Charlie Munger and David Clark (Founders #295)

(20:00) Advance orders tend to stifle initiative. A commander should be left free to adapt himself to circumstances as they occur.

(23:00) The art of war consists in a well organized and conservative defense, coupled with an audacious and rapid offensive.

(26:00) Ten people who yell make more noise than ten thousand who keep silent.

(29:00) Long orders, which require much time to prepare, to read and to understand are the enemies of speed. Napoleon could issue orders of few sentences which clearly expressed his intentions and required little time to issue and to understand.

(31:00) A great leader will resort to audacity.

(32:00) “Alexander the Great thought, decided, and above all, moved swiftly. He appreciated the importance of speed and the terrifying surprises speed made possible. His enemies were always stunned and shocked by his arrival. He invented the blitzkrieg.”  — Heroes: From Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Churchill and de Gaulle by Paul Johnson. (Episode #226)

(34:00) It is no harm to be too strong; it may be fatal to be too weak.

(41:00) Napoleon on single threaded leadership: Once a campaign has been decided upon there should be no hesitation in appointing one commander to assure its success. When authority is divided, opinions and actions differ, and confusion and delay arises. A single chief proceeds with vigor; he is not delayed by necessity to confer.

(42:00) Posess obstinate will.

(43:00) Experience must be supplemented by study. No man's personal experience can be so inclusive as to warrant his disregarding the experiences of others. (This is a great reason why you should invest in a subscription to Founders Notes

(44:00) It is profitable to study the campaigns of the great masters.

(47:00) Skill consists in converging a mass of fire upon a single point. He that has the skill to bring a sudden, unexpected concentration of artillery to bear upon a selected point is sure to capture it. (A lesson from Peter Thiel: Don’t divide your attention: focusing on one thing yields increasing returns for each unit of effort.)

(49:00) All great captains have been diligent students [of history].


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