Red Team: How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy – A Book Review

red team book coverRed Team: How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy is a book that discusses the concept, principles and practices of red teaming, a term that came to being during the Cold War. A red team is a group that challenges an organization to identify vulnerabilities, challenge assumptions, improve its effectiveness and explore alternative futures. It can be composed of skeptics and those assuming the roles of saboteurs and hackers. The book contains details about the work of red teams as used in public and private organizations. It reveals best practices, benefits and the important role of the red team leader.

Book Details

This first hardcover edition was published on November 3, 2015 by Basic Books. It has 336 pages and is about 1.1 inches thick. A Kindle edition is also available. The front cover shows the author’s name on the top area, the title in very large fonts at the middle area, and the subtitle below it, on a background of white, with small images of red and blue circles and arrow lines. ISBN-10: 0465048943; ISBN-13: 978-0465048946


$17.27 for the hardcover edition and $16.57 for the Kindle edition


Target Audience

Red Team is ideal for business leaders and policy makers. It is also valuable for professionals in leadership position as well as members of teams involved in high-impact projects and initiatives.

What Customers Say

An Amazon customer described Red Team as a terrific read for its first-hand accounts and case studies ranging from those in the NYPD to those in Wall Street. It provides tips on how to avoid the dangers of groupthink with the help of out-of-the-box red team thinkers.

Laura S. stated that she recommends the book on how it provides clarity for various red team implementations.

Content, Approach, Style

Red Team is divided into an introduction and 6 chapters. The Introduction gives a brief historical account of the concept of Devil’s Advocate, the benefits of red teaming in confirming intelligence data, human and organizational biases that cause failure, and an overview of red teaming tactics. Chapter 1 provides details on six red teaming best practices, while Chapter 2 explains the origins of red teams and the most prominent units and events employed by the military. Chapter 3 provides case studies of it as alternative sources of information in the intelligence community, while Chapter 4 discusses on how it is applied in security aspects. The fifth chapter shows its applications in the competitive private sector, while the last chapter discusses other applications as well as mis-impressions and misuse.

The book presents its discussions, examples and insights in paragraphs of readable length. Topics are introduced and separated by headers and titles. The concepts and discussions are backed up by stories of real historical events, scenarios and case studies that makes it an interesting reading. It is presented with the point of view of an expert in the field.

Why Buy the Book

Red Team: How to Succeed By Thinking Like the Enemy is thought provoking, and can provide insight to leaders and senior executives who create strategy and provide direction for the organization. It provides readers a new approach and method for verifying the effectiveness of standard processes, and also gives another perspective in how to overcome complacency and manage risks. Currently, the Kindle edition is ranked #1 in Amazon’s Best Sellers in Corporate Governance category.

Books that Complement

Project Management, Denial, and the Death Zone by Grant Avery is a collection of past initiatives that provides lessons learned applicable in managing projects.

Challenges and Best Practices of Managing Government Projects is a useful guide in the decision making process as performed by project professionals, policy makers, government officials and others involved in state-funded projects and programs.


Micah Zenko is a Senior Fellow in the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The CFR is an independent and nonpartisan membership organization, think tank and publisher. Mr. Zenko’s expertise is in conflict prevention, US national security policy, military planning and operations, and nuclear weapons policy. He previously worked at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, at the Brookings Institution, at the Congressional Research Service and at the State Department’s Office of Policy Planning. He has published many articles on national security issues, as well as op-eds in leading newspapers. He has authored or co-authored 5 Council special reports. Mr. Zenko’s first book was published in 2010 by Stanford University Press titled Between Threats and War.

$17.27 for the hardcover edition and $16.57 for the Kindle edition


Jose Maria Delos Santos

Jose is a subject matter expert and member of the writing team for and Bridge24. He has written hundreds of articles including project management software reviews, books reviews, training site reviews, and general articles related to the project management industry.