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Podcast #447: On Grand Strategy | The Art of Manliness

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The ancient Greek poet Archilochus said, “A fox knows many things, but a hedgehog one important thing.”

The original meaning of the quote has been lost to the mists of time, but my guest today argues that it’s a great metaphor for classifying two types of leadership strategies.

His name is John Lewis Gaddis and he’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, an expert on the Cold War, and a professor of military history at Yale University. Today, Professor Gaddis and I talk about his book, On Grand Strategy, in which he distills insights about strategy from political and military history going all the way back to antiquity.

We begin our conversation discussing what strategy is and what it means to have grand strategy. John then shares the analogy of the fox and the hedgehog, and the benefits and downsides to each approach to thinking and acting. We then discuss why the best strategists combine fox-like and hedgehog-like mindsets, examples from history of great leaders who had both, and how he helps his students see the relationship between principle and practice.

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