tl;dr: Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is what Robert Greene was trying to redo with The 48 Laws of Power and The Art of Seduction (both of which I’ve previously reviewed).
It’s probably the only “self-help” book I’ve ever read that didn’t either talk down to you, nor treat you as superior for having read it.
The book is constantly interspersed with personal anecdotes and does not present itself as a directive, but as a set of examples (positive and negative) that you can pick and choose from, but which should be mostly “picked” and “chosen”, and not so many left behind.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I also think that you cannot read (and reread) this too young.
The 50th Law
The greatest fear people have is that of being themselves. They want to be 50 Cent or someone else. They do what everyone else does even if it doesn’t fit where and who they are. But you get nowhere that way; your energy is weak and no one pays attention to you. You’re running away from the one thing that you own – what makes you different. I lost that fear. And once I felt the power that I had by showing the world I didn’t care about being like other people, I could never go back
Robert Greene’s book with 50 Cent was … different. Unlike his previous books I’ve read (33 Strategies, 48 Laws, Mastery, and The Art of Seduction), this book isn’t really written by him – and it’s not a Joost Elffers book. The copy I borrowed from my local library looks like a weird cross of a notebook and a Bible.
Should you read the book? I don’t think so. The whole of it is summed in the opening quote above – the rest of the several score pages just elaborate and/or ramble on the theme.
It’s marketed as a sequel to The 48 Laws of Power – it’s not. It ‘s a performance artist’s attempt to write-off his critics and push himself up in everyone’s estimation because hey: he wrote a book.
I’ve now read [almost] all of Robert Greene’s books (just pending is The 50th Law, which I’ll have reviewed in a couple weeks). Thanks to my local library, I have not had to spend gobs o’ cash in the process (though at least one of his books I think is most definitely worth the expenditure).
The 33 Strategies of War is Greene’s rewriting of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War (review and chapters) with “modern insights” and the inclusion of a vast network of historical examples. It’s certainly an interesting text, but not one that I personally think warrants its own work – especially when the 2500-year-old book is still so insightful.
That being said, since I have read and/or skimmed the book, here are some thoughts. The best aspect of the book is still the “Joost Elffers-ification” of the book, with extensive marginal comments, highlights, funny textual formatting, etc.
Greene does an admirable job in this book, and it’s worth skimming – though I think the table of contents (reproduced below) is more useful than the whole text. It’s more of a pick-and-choose type of reading than something you should consume cover-to-cover.
Part 1 | Self-Directed Warfare
- Declare war on your enemies: The polarity strategy
- Do not fight the last war: The guerrilla-war-of-the-mind strategy
- Amidst the turmoil of events, do ot lose your presence of mind: The counterbalance strategy
- Create a sense of urgency and desperation: The death-ground strategy
Part 2 | Organizational (Team) Warfare
- Avoid the sense of groupthink: The command-and-control strategy
- Segment your forces: The controlled-chaos strategy
- Transform your war into a crusade: Morale strategies
Part 3 | Defensive Warfare
- Pick your battles carefully: The perfect-economy strategy
- Turn the tables: The counterattack strategy
- Create a threatening presence: Deterrence strategies
- Trade space for time: The nonengagement strategy
Part 4 | Offensive Warfare
- Lose battles but win the war: Grand strategy
- Know your enemy: The intelligence strategy
- Overwhelm resistance with speed and suddenness: The blitzkrieg strategy
- Control the dynamic: Forcing strategies
- Hit them where it hurts: The center-of-gravity strategy
- Defeat them in detail: The divide-and-conquer strategy
- Expose and attack your opponent’s soft flank: The turning strategy
- Envelop the enemy: The annihilation strategy
- Maneuver them into weakness: The ripening-for-the-sickle strategy
- Negotiate while advancing: The diplomatic war strategy
- Know how to end things: The exit strategy
Part 5 | Unconventional (Dirty) Warfare
- Weave a seamless blend of fact and fiction: Misperception strategies
- Take the line of least expectation: The ordinary-extraordinary strategy
- Occupy the moral high ground: The righteous strategy
- Deny them targets: The strategy of the void
- Seem to work for the interests of others while furthering your own: The alliance strategy
- Give your rivals enough rope to hang themselves: The one-upmanship strategy
- Take small bites: The fait accompli strategy
- Penetrate their minds: Communication strategies
- Destroy from within: The inner-front strategy
- Dominate while seeming to submit: The passive-aggression strategy
- Sow uncertainty and panic through acts of terror: The chain-reaction strategy