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The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide to Success in Business and Life

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,969 ratings  ·  111 reviews

“I am hard pressed to think of another book that can match the combination of practical insights and reading enjoyment.”—Steven Levitt


Game theory means rigorous strategic thinking. It’s the art of anticipating your opponent’s next moves, knowing full well that your rival is trying to do the same thing to you. Though parts of game theory involve simple common sense, much is
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Kindle Edition, 512 pages
Published (first published 1991)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  1,969 ratings  ·  111 reviews


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David
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an engaging, comprehensive guide to strategies, as applied to everyday life. The first part of the book focuses on standard game theory, graphical notations for various problems, and applications of the prisoners' dilemma to everyday situations. The second part of the book concentrates more on everyday and business problems, and strategies to achieve optimal solutions. Game theory is not always applicable to all of these problems, but logic and rational problem-solving and a bit of ...more
Kara
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
There is absolutely no need to read this book if you've read Thinking Strategically.

I'm not certain why they exist as two separate books. The content is almost identical, and 90% of the examples in this one were lifted from that. I have no idea why this is touted as a "sequel." It is not. It's just Thinking Strategically repackaged (but I will say that its package is prettier). The tagline says that it's a "guide to success in business and life," but it is not. It is game theory explained in an
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Billie Pritchett
Avinash Dixit's Art of Strategy is an informative book and a little boring. It's informative because it provides you with some basic principles for how to reason properly in situations where you have to coordinate or compete with other people, your self, or a company or something equally abstract; 'game theory' is just a fancy name for principled strategic interaction. And it's boring in the sense that it requires some understanding of mathematics, and if you're mathematically stupid like I am y ...more
Ricardo Marcos
Lots of examples that make us lose focus on what is really important from Game Theory. Lack of proper definitions. Took me 11 pages of anotations to resume the whole book. I couldn't say if this book can really guide me to success in business and life. My opinion is:
- Too redundant with descriptions;
- Lack of proper definition;
- Confusing descriptions of theories
- Confusing examples and tables;
- Not clear about aspects of theories.
I would not recommend this book to a beginner learning Game Theo
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Ernest
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Art of Strategy is a brilliant book about game theory written for a popular, general audience. Game theory is the study of strategic decision making and behaviour, and while it is a whole discipline of study in itself, this book written by academics in the field is not a textbook but a written for a general audience that while being accessible to a non-specialists, still manages to be a rigorous introduction into the subject, all the while being fun and engaging through the examples used and ...more
Dan
Oct 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
I wish I had read this book with a pen and paper, and less on the PATH train. Unfortunately, I think I failed to digest some of the more quantitative aspects of game theory.

All things considered, though, this was an excellent book and review of game theory. And because payoffs are so difficult to determine, anyway, you don't really need the math as much as the thought processes and logic of strategic thinking (essentially, don't make decisions without figuring out what the other actors' interest
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Dann
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: games
Dixit and Nalebuff provide an exceptionally good introduction to game theory without making it overly difficult. There are real-world examples, ways to practice your game-theoretic thinking, and a lot of really useful information that might actually help you in your real life. That's what I really loved about this book—after reading it, I saw that the principles could be applied anywhere (especially in Craigslist selling, which I was doing a lot of—how cool is that?).

I read this book for a class
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Wang Jiao
It explain the basic ways of thinking in game theory, look forward, reason backward. It provided some simple mathematical modelling and calculations of some theories. But I am not that impressed, the maths is simple and intuitive, not deep enough.
Denis Romanovsky
This book let me understand how stupid I’m and how much again there is to learn and practice. Instead of another book on leadership, management framework or business analysis better take something to read about game theory. Game theory appears to be a part of systems thinking science, a true part. If you want to understand systems better, you have to read on games theory. As for the book - it is easy to read, not much math, good examples. Highly recommended!
Semegn Tadesse
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: management
The book has a hand on example of understanding strategy, What I can say about one thing I learned in this book is Game Theory. Now I understand how to implement in different scenarios, it's a book i'm going to pick up again in few months. Finally totally recommend it to anyone interested in strategy.
Darius Daruvalla-riccio
This book really fascinated me but it took a lot of mental effort to get through. The book went over the basics of game theory, gave general guidelines on how to use it and then went over its applications in the real world. This included things such as business competition, negotiations, voting and more. Contrary to most non-fiction books, I can recall and explain most of the information that is written about. This probably resulted from a mix of how much the book interested me and the amount of ...more
Sai
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
Enjoyed reading this! To be clear, this book is intended for audiences completely new to game theoretic ideas. Prior to reading this book, my only experience with understanding game theory was watching A Beautiful Mind as a kid. Getting that out of the way, this book is fast paced and fun in introducing all the major concepts of game theory, from decision theories, Nash equilibriums, different types of auction and voting theories, bargaining and negotiations etc.. Most importantly, its filled wi ...more
Hans
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
If you are unfamiliar with Game Theory then this book is for you, if on the other hand you already are aware of it then it'll be a good review. Overall the reason Game Theory is so useful is because it can show possible solutions to what may initially appear to be unsolvable problems. Often times judgement is clouded by the strong emotional charge of a problem and people are unable to see a way through it. Game Theory allows one to detach from the situation and assess it with a cold rationality ...more
Zehra
Jan 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The examples might not apply to daily life directly but when you get the idea, you will have some cool tools in your hand. That GMAT question method really works on such as quantitative questions, and already comes intuitively after practise lots of time but I thought it might work with literature questions, too. If the question is a type "I-I-II; Only II;" instead of reading the entire question I just thought in that way and simply check it. It was fun and just received a pretty good result. Th ...more
Simon Eskildsen
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reread
If you've looked for a foray into Game Theory, this is it. It walks through a bunch of important ideas in Game Theory, from auctions to equilibrium in games. This book is filled with models that you can apply in many contexts, introduced through approachable examples—although, some chapters are easier to get through than others. Working my way through my highlights in the book is already proving rewarding, but it's definitely dense in information (but not in language). Don't read this as a befor ...more
Jason Yang
This book is sort of like a layman's intro to game theory. I enjoyed some of the examples early on about situations where strategic thinking is really useful (eg., the show Survivor), but found the book to be quite dry and abstract overall. It's really difficult for me to pinpoint what I got out of it, since so many of the take home messages seemed like common sense. On the other hand, it was kind of nice to see some exercises related to pricing, etc., which I suppose are relevant to the real wo ...more
Simon
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A primer in game theory, but the book got rather boring and was much longer than needed.
Marko
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Valeriu
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This verbose version of the game theory 101 course from Yale University is by no means a light reading. Prepared on the assumption of purely rational behaviour, deep fried in twisted logic, sprinkled with mathematical details and served in a rather sophisticated English, the book appeals to casual readers, curious about the prisoners' dilemma or the Japanese auction, as well as to more knowledgeable practitioners, ready to pull out a pen and paper (or rock and scissors) to compute conditional pr ...more
Matthias
The authors re-published under a new name their 1991 classic Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life, with a minimal amount of tweaks and updates taken from the recent developments in the field of behavioral game theory.

The book is more than just an introduction to Game Theory - it goes beyond its goal by analyzing in detail a series of specific examples. The overall contexts and situations in those examples are often kind of trivial, and even kind o
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Tõnu Vahtra
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm probably not worthy enough for this book as I don't see that I would be able to put significant amount of this book into practice. From description and a few references towards this book as I was expecting more a set of principles for strategic decisions but it's actually solely focusing on different aspects of game theory and how to model real life challenges as decision and game trees. The book did point out the optimal strategies for several situations that through system 1 thinking might ...more
Ocean Gebhardt
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, econ
I thoroughly enjoyed this. A very smart book.

It contains the obligatory decision tree, ultimatum game, prisoner's dilemma and nash equilibrium. But it also has much more. Even concepts like how stores offering to "match any competitor's price" could be a method of enforcing collusion pricing.

Certain terms, like the Minimax theory, Winner's curse, and discussion on the BATNA brought me back to grad school. The method of guessing the correct multiple choice answer without even knowing the questio
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Alan
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: epub

“I am hard pressed to think of another book that can match the combination of practical insights and reading enjoyment.”―Steven Levitt


Game theory means rigorous strategic thinking. It’s the art of anticipating your opponent’s next moves, knowing full well that your rival is trying to do the same thing to you. Though parts of game theory involve simple common sense, much is counterintuitive, and it can only be mastered by developing a new way of seeing the world. Using a diverse array of rich c

...more
Pietro Condello
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Life truly is a game of chess. This is a very accessible and fun introduction to the otherwise complex world of game theory, using everyday real life examples of both how others around you (consciously or unconsciously) and corporations you interact with (most definitely consciously!) use the principles popularized by John Nash, and how you can as well.

What's really interesting are some of the examples of unintended consequences of failing to "look forward and reason backward". For example, how
...more
Jaime Hernandez
I liked this book, but it was tough for me to get through at times. The authors broke down many concepts from business school strategy and economics classes in a way that was easy to understand. Also, the case studies were good at demonstrating the concepts.

However, for me, the format/structure/flow was often difficult to follow. Unless you want to delve into the individual strategies, I recommend more a skimming type reading for later follow-up - at least until you get through passages that are
...more
C
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started this book as it was a suggested reading for my current Technology Analytics MBA course. I found this book to be a helpful overview of strategy and game theory concepts. The "trips to the gym" and other thought experiments helped to drive the concepts home. This book is an introduction and overview of game theory concepts: It is not a textbook or a mathematical treatise. I found it to be a good reminder of concepts I had learned earlier and I suggest it to people who are interested in t ...more
Sriram Sankaranarayanan
This is a wonderful read for people interested in game theory. The authors have given great examples for well known problems in game theory in a lucid manner, thus keeping the reader interested. While catering to a reader with little to no knowledge on this subject, this also has sections for people with a more formal understanding of the theory.

By all means, I would suggest it as a must-read for people interested in this topic.
Kamal Laungani
The first half was enlightening and full of insights. The second half was not only unrelatable due to authors western bias but also lacked any new insights. The second half had too much focus on describing example scenarios without introducing any new concepts. If you want to know about game theory, just read the first half
Michael
I listened to this book on Audible.

Some of the ideas are interesting, but that said, I did not enjoy listening to the book. It was difficult to follow along with the “games” in the book. I’d like to try again with a print copy.
Brendan Quinn
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating, in-depth view of how game theory influences the outcomes of every decision we make.

I want to go back and re-read it with a notepad next to me so I can make notes about the key findings...
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Avinash Kamalakar Dixit (born August 6, 1944 in Bombay, India) is an Indian-American economist. He is currently John J. F. Sherrerd '52 University Professor of Economics Emeritus at Princeton University, Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Economics at Lingnan University (Hong Kong) and Senior Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford.

Dixit received a B.Sc. from Bombay University in 1963 in Mathe
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“Steven Brams and Peter Fishburn, one a political scientist and the other an economist, argue that “approval voting” allows voters to express their true preferences without concern for electability.8 Under approval voting, each voter may vote for as many candidates as he wishes.” 2 likes
“The nouveau riche flaunt their wealth, but the old rich scorn such gauche displays. Minor officials prove their status with petty displays of authority, while the truly powerful show their strength through gestures of magnanimity. People of average education show off the studied regularity of their script, but the well educated often scribble illegibly. Mediocre students answer a teacher’s easy questions, but the best students are embarrassed to prove their knowledge of trivial points. Acquaintances show their good intentions by politely ignoring one’s flaws, while close friends show intimacy by teasingly highlighting them. People of moderate ability seek formal credentials to impress employers and society, but the talented often downplay their credentials even if they have bothered to obtain them. A person of average reputation defensively refutes accusations against his character, while a highly respected person finds it demeaning to dignify accusations with a response.” 2 likes
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