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Here, you may find a number of interesting books related to Risk and diplomacy and self-help. As you may have seen in my book or in the Risk guides, you may have noticed that a wide range of topics are applicable. When I was researching my book, I came across many interesting sources that helped me to understand a lot more about the interaction between humans. There are Great works from Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Clausewitz and others. Startegic thinking can be applied to all levels. Playing a game such as Risk and winning it is only one aspect. Negotiating over a price for a house requires the same skills. If you can get better in one, you can most probably improve your performance in the other.

This list is not limited to books only related to Risk. These books are useful on anything you may do on a daily basis as they are full of tips on self-improvement and life-hacks. I have personally found the following books incredibly useful and thought provoking. I will highly recommend them to you.

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Selfish Gene
Thursday, March 22, 2007
3577 Views :: 0 Comments :: Article Rating :: Strategy, Analysis of systems

Richard Dawkins, (1976) Selfish Gene

This is a must read. It is one of those books to take to the proverbial island. In Selfish Gene, you will learn how evolution can explain so much about the world. You will see how simple interactions between entities can lead to incredible rise of complexity. His talk on Evolutionary Stable Strategy and Game Theory is directly related to issues seen in any competitive system, including Risk. He manages to elegantly show us that a great deal of our actions can be predictable due to the basic nature of the system we interact with.

If you want to know why someone was nice to you in Risk even though he could stab you in the back by breaking a deal, then read this book!

The Art of Always Being Right
Thursday, March 22, 2007
5030 Views :: 0 Comments :: Article Rating :: Self-Help, Negotiation, Psychology, Diplomacy

Arthur Schopenhauer, (2005) The art of always being right, Gibson Square Books.

If you want to know how Jeremy Paxman (Newsnight) manages to interview prime minsters and presidents so brilliantly, this is the book to read. The book consist of a number of tips on what to say and how to say it to be ahead of the political game. His advice is not always based on morality, but that's exactly why you need to know about it since someone else might do it to you.

You will find quite a few useful tips for Risk. Have you ever felt hopeless when another player keeps talking against you and drums up support for your eliminations. Did you ever wondered what to say to stop that player from talking. Or, did you always wonder what is the best way to lead someone into a logical trap, one that they cannot get out easily. This book has it all.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Thursday, March 22, 2007
6804 Views :: 0 Comments :: Article Rating :: Strategy, Negotiation, History, Diplomacy

William .L. Shirer, (1960) The rise and fall of the third Reich, Arrow Books

This is great history book on the events leading to World War II. What makes it different from other history books is that it attempts to capture the reasons behind the decision made by key players as opposed to just reporting history as it took place. They used it all; bluffing, deceit, back-stabbing, outright aggression, use of fear against anyone who is against you. Propaganda was practically invented by the Nazi and there is a lot to learn from history. If you see how easily people have been manipulated in the past, you may come to appreciate the dangers facing us today and how to avoid it.

You can easily relate many of the real-world events in this book to Risk situations and get to learn more in the process. This is, after all, a book about diplomacy. See how the world leader did it themselves and learn from them.

Awaken the Giant Within
Thursday, March 22, 2007
3907 Views :: 0 Comments :: Article Rating :: Self-Help, Negotiation, Psychology

Anthony Robins, (1992) Awaken the Giant Within

Anthony Robins in this book attempts to show us how powerful we can be if we follow a certain number of simple rules. The book covers a great deal of techniques in NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming). His books in general have helped a great deal of people and there must be something good about the books that they have become so popular.

Confidence in your belief is always essential if you want to be in control of a situation. When it comes to Risk, lack of confidence seems to be the number one issue with new and even more experienced players. After all, the name of the game is Risk and one needs to take risk to get anywhere. Robins shows us that taking risk is a matter of calculation and knowing what your goals are. Most of the time people know what they want, but they don’t know how to get it. Worst still, they know that they want to get rich, but don’t really ask themselves everyday if what they are doing is getting them there. This book can help you in life and also to get to play a better Risk game!

Negotiation: The Art of Getting What You Want
Thursday, March 22, 2007
6616 Views :: 0 Comments :: Article Rating :: Self-Help, Strategy, Negotiation, Psychology, Diplomacy

Michael Schatzki, (1981) Negotiation: The Art of Getting What You Want

In this book, you will learn how to negotiate successfully. The negotiation activity is abstracted into ranged dealing. Each side sets up a MSP (Maximum Supportable Position) and LAS (Least Acceptable Settelment). The negotiation game is to guess your opponents LAS and MSP and make sure that your opponent will not find out your. Armed with these two values, you should be able to get a better deal. A lost of teh book is dedicated to this deceptive behaviour. How to hide your true LAS? What to do to make sure that your opponent will choose a higher LAS? What happens in the event of a deadlock? This book provides a number of practical examples from negotiating at work, over a house or when buying a car. It is well written and it certainly makes you rethink your approach in negotiations. One can use the same technique in a negotiation carried over a Risk game. How to approach the other side to make a deal? How not to take a no for an answer? Highly recommended.

Evolution and the Theory of Games
Thursday, March 22, 2007
4037 Views :: 0 Comments :: Article Rating :: Strategy, Games, Analysis of systems

John Maynard Smith, (1982). Evolution and the theory of games. Cambridge University Press.

The concept of evolutionary stable strategy was first introduced by Professor John Maynard Smith which was then largely adapted in ethology and biology about the evolution of behaviour. This books address the whole theory and explores the genetic systems, game theory and animal behaviour.

The evolution of behaviour discussed in this book is directly applicable to Risk. A player who plays repeatedly is subject to an evolutionary game play by his opponents. The dynamics behind this are quite fascinating. Knowing the mathematics behind the complexity may actually help to improve your Risk game. Instead of focusing on winning the current game, you can start to focus on winning all games. Your moves will be different if you want to win over and over again than if you just wanted to win the next game.

The Mind Gym: Wake Your Mind Up
Thursday, March 22, 2007
4879 Views :: 0 Comments :: Article Rating :: Self-Help, Negotiation, Psychology, Diplomacy

Mind Gym Team, (2005) The Mind Gym: Wake Your Mind Up. Time Warner Books.

This is a self-help book designed to give you a boost in life. It is very well thought out. The book is stylish in terms of delivery of the material and is always engaging. You will learn how to influence others by following a set of simple techniques. What happens when you give up your dream and why? You will learn how not to feel like an outsider in a conversation. Perhaps, the most important is to know how to control the flow of conversations. Emotionally charged sentences that sound good may only get you ahead in the short term. By considering the long term goal, you can be much more effective in choosing the right words and eventually get to your goal.

The techniques presented in this book can help you to be more effective when dealing in negotiations in Risk.

Never Be Lied to Again: How to Get the Truth In 5 Minutes Or Less In Any Conversation Or Situation
Thursday, March 22, 2007
4185 Views :: 0 Comments :: Article Rating :: Self-Help, Negotiation, Psychology, Diplomacy

Lieberman, D.J., (1998) Never Be Lied to Again: How to Get the Truth In 5 Minutes Or Less In Any Conversation Or Situation. St. Martin's Press.

You can learn a great deal on deception and lies in this book. There has been many books that talk about body language of a liar and this book also includes this material as a matter of principle. However, what makes this book stand out is that it looks at confession and lies as a game of words. Dr. Lieberman, a psychologist, provides a great number of tips on what to say to get the right reaction.

Usually, just a few words said in the right way can lead you to get what you want. For example: “I hate to do this but you leave me no choice …” or better “You know what I can do, and I'll do it. If you don't want to tell me now, don't. I'll just do what I have to do…” If he focuses a lot to know what you want to do, then he is probably guilty.

As another example, if someone explains a situation and you respond with “and …”, it is as if you are demanding a conclusion. It feels as if you are not convinced and you expect more information. Saying a simple word will get you a lot more information than you would have imagined otherwise.

There are many examples such as these in the book. These are directly applicable to playing Risk. In fact, the tips are still useful even if you play online. Knowing what to type in the chatbox is critical these days. There are numerous examples of bullying taking place online. If you know what to say and when to say it (or type it for that matter) you will have an edge over others. You will know how not get angry, and simultaneously know how to wind someone up. After all, an angry person will make irrational decisions which may lead him to defeat! Exactly what you want in a game.

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Thursday, March 22, 2007
5546 Views :: 0 Comments :: Article Rating :: Strategy, Psychology, Games, Analysis of systems, Diplomacy

Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner, (2005) Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, William Morrow.

This book explores economics in a different way. Levitt argues that if you keep asking the right questions, you will find interesting answers. He attempts to show us that economic principles can be used to explain many concepts deemed to be mysterious. He shows that underground criminals run theirs activities like a corporation. Or that teachers are just as likely to cheat as their pupils. In a different story he shows how cheaters can be analysed based on an amusing study over the number of bagels consumed per day. His analysis of baby naming patterns are also quite interesting.

Economics deal greatly with patterns. Hence, economics is applicable to many systems, not least playing Risk. Introducing new rules or principle creates incentives for competitors in an environment. If these incentives are not thought out properly, their introduction may backfire. Any action has reactions, and those reactions have even more reactions. This book explores a number of these concepts and illustrates them with easily understandable real-world stories.

On War
Thursday, March 22, 2007
6240 Views :: 0 Comments :: Article Rating :: Strategy, Psychology, Games, Analysis of systems, History, Diplomacy

Carl von Clausewitz (2007) On War, Oxford University Press.

Clausewitz was a Prussian General who was interested to analyse military campaigns and attempt to answer difficult questions. On War is one of the most important works written on strategy. The most important concepts discussed in this book are perhaps the following:

  • War must never be seen as a purpose to itself, but as a means of physically forcing one's will on an opponent. War is the continuation of politics through other means.
  • The military objectives in war that support one's political objectives fall into two broad types:
    • War to achieve limited aims
    • War to disarm the enemy and to render him politically helpless or militarily impotent
  • The course of war will tend to favour the party devoting more resolve and resources. He then goes on to introduce the concept of Total War: the pursuit of complete military victory regardless of the political consequences.

Some also criticize his work and suggest that his concept of Total War was behind the huge devastation caused as a result of the two World Wars in the twentieth century. Either way, the work attempts to show why war takes place and how it is used as a tool to accommodate the needs of politicians and leaders.

The concepts are directly applicable to playing Risk.

48 Laws of Power
Thursday, March 22, 2007
5799 Views :: 0 Comments :: Article Rating :: Self-Help, Strategy, Negotiation, Psychology, Diplomacy

Robert Greene, (2000) 48 Laws of Power, Profile Books.

This is pretty much a follow up to Machiavelli's work, albeit cast and made for our modern era. Greene provides 48 laws that one must follow to become powerful. Morality is not treated as a must have quality, hence some of the laws may sound amoral. Though as with Machiavelli's work, what matters is power and all else is just part of the game. Greene provides a great deal of examples from history to support his laws and they are fascinating and thought provoking to read. As the saying is, learn it from the pros.

A few examples are:

"Pose as a friend, Work as a spy"

"Do not build fortresses to protect yourself, isolation is dangerous"

"Control the options: Get others to play with the cards you deal"

"Do not go past the mark you aimed for, in victory learn when to stop"

Prince
Thursday, March 22, 2007
4702 Views :: 0 Comments :: Article Rating :: Strategy, Negotiation, Psychology, Diplomacy

Nicolo Machiavelli, (1513) The Prince

When it comes to Risk and the use of diplomacy, this is perhaps the best book there is after The Art of War. By reading this book, at least you will know what it means if someone is labelled as Machiavellian. The other benefit is that you can also find out who is a Machiavellian. Machiavelli describes what a prince must do to hold to power and how to extend it. Machiavelli is sometimes presented as amoral. For example, he suggests that:

“It is better to break promises if keeping them would be against one’s interests.”

It is better to view Machiavelli in a different way. He is only trying to tell us what strategies work better when humans are competing for power. It is only a game. Seen that way, morality has got no place in the decision making process of a prince. Of course, by modern standards, we expect a leader to be moral, merciful and fair. Though, as reality shows, we are far from it.

The goal is to win, and Machiavelli suggests that if you don’t follow the simple principles he puts forward, you will be at the mercy of those who will follow it. As a minimum, you need to know if someone is applying Machiavellian tactics on you and if he does, how you would respond to it.

The Art of War
Thursday, March 22, 2007
4693 Views :: 0 Comments :: Article Rating :: Strategy, Psychology, Games, Diplomacy

Lionel Giles, (2005) The Art of War by Sun Tzu, Special Edition, El Paso Norte Press.

This is Sun Tzu's classic on the use of strategies in war. It is a great source of wisdom. This particular translation contains a number of commentaries that helps to clarify Sun's concepts. The book is used by people in business, politicians, military generals and is applicable to any competitive environments. However, like many books of this nature, some of the tips can be vague and subject to interpretation. The best way to understand and appreciate them is by putting them into practice. Once you have tried to implement them, you would realise how effective Sun's advice can be. Risk is the ideal choice for experimentation.

Here are some of Sun's advice:

"To win without fighting is best"

"When you have the means but are not getting anywhere, seek appropriate associates, and you will be lucky."

"If opponents are numerous, they can be made not to fight."

"A military force has no constant form (i.e no predictable strategy) water has no constant shape. The ability to gain victory by changing and adopting according to the opponent is called genious. (just like the flow of water is determined by the earth)"

Highly recommended.

  

Book: Total Diplomacy, The Art of Winning Risk