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How to Read Robert Greene ?

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I first read the 48 Laws of Power a year ago, and since then, I have read all six of his books and have summarized them.

Mastery, The 48 Laws of Power, The 33 Strategies of War, The 50th Law, The Laws of Human Nature

Understanding Greene

The reason why I enjoy his work is because they are written in a simple way, and while there is some degree of pretension, his outlook on human nature resembles my own. Even more importantly, you learn a bit about history, in a more engaging way than simply reading a purely factual linear sequence of events. Because the stories are contextualized – they relate to a certain law or strategy that he describes – you will find yourself thinking more about them as you read.

Robert Greene is a best-selling writer who did not succeed because he is a literary genius or a trained psychologist, but because he had an intuitive feel for what people deeply desire, whether money, sex, or power, and has carved out useful lessons from history that will help you get all three.

He understood that many people will only read if you can give them a convincing answer to the grand quandary of the modern mind, “what’s in it for me?”

In his books, Greene makes a promise to his readers, that if you read his book, you will become a better negotiator, employee, artist, businessman, politician, or seducer. Relying on laws of human psychology and the patterns of history, he argues that his advice will help you get what you want, not because it is based on his own opinion, but based on ancient laws and the great authors of the past.

He has completely removed his ego from his writing, he is not interested in proving that he is right and others and wrong – in fact, he does not care about that at all. He even admits this in his books. If he does have any philosophy at all, it is that Ideas are not right or wrong, they are meant to be played with, to be used for some situations but not others – they are never to be taken too seriously.

This is a key point to understanding how to read Greene. He does not give you a step-by-step process to attain your goal, but gives you different ideas that you could benefit from, depending on who you are and which situation you are in.

If you do not want to think for yourself, then reading anything would be terribly misleading. But with Greene, if you do not want to think for yourself, reading his work could be dangerous.

Knowing this, I will help you explore the six books he has written so far, and help you understand which.

The Art of Seduction

The Art of Seduction is a book that teaches you how to manipulate human psychology to your favor. Some people want to be manipulated and seduced, there is something deeply satisfying when it comes to surrendering. But there is also joy in the pursuit, in understanding how to get your target to fall for your tricks, and it is often the more difficult challenge that is most worthwhile.

You will learn:

  • the different ways in which people seduce.
  • the style of seduction that you use unconsciously (or consciously)
  • how to avoid falling for the traps of others.
  • how to avoid being anti-seductive (repelling others instead of attracting them).
  • about the general psychology of seduction.

The Laws of Human Nature

This book is about the different theories that inform human behavior. You will not learn new truths about human nature if you are well-versed in psychology, but will help cement certain ideas in your mind, by giving them historical context.

You will learn:

  • about your own psychology by understanding other people.
  • about the shadow.
  • about the importance of timing.
  • how others try to control you for their own purposes.
  • how little control other people have over their behavior.
  • what people are truly motivated by.

The 50th Law

This book is about overcoming the biggest impediment to human potential: fear. The ten chapters of the book each focus on a common fear between people – this may be a fear of change, or death, or leading from the front, or being patient.

You will learn:

  • about the common fears that people have in life.
  • about Curtis Jackson’s (50 Cent) life story.
  • why it is so important to overcome your fears.

The 48 Laws of Power

This is Greene’s longest book. It is a combination of historical anecdotes, Machiavellian quotes, and clever fables to defend the merits of each law of power. The laws are based on a fundamental assumption about human nature, that people are greedy, selfish, and unreliable. If you agree with this assessment, you will enjoy this book.

You will learn:

  • the different ways other people manipulate you.
  • why people behave amorally.
  • about the victims and the victors of history, and how their attitudes shaped their destinies.
  • how to manipulate others.
  • how to avoid social isolation, while maintaining independent thinking.

The 33 Strategies of War

Here, Greene cites anecdotes from history – military warfare, politics, psychoanalysis, and sports – to describe timeless strategies of war that have been used by people in the past.

You will learn:

  • that war is a constant, whether you like it or not.
  • how to defend yourself from attacks.
  • about strategies you can use in business and in the real world.
  • about how you inadvertently exploit others.

Mastery

Mastery by Robert Greene is a book that outlines the path to greatness. Greene tells the stories of many different geniuses of the past (Goethe, Da Vinci, Einstein) and distills the most important lessons we ought to remember.

You will learn:

  • why mastery is so important, both psychologically and socially.
  • how the masters of the past became masters themselves.
  • how to overcome the most common obstacles in the path to mastery.
  • the best strategies to become a master of your craft.
  • the nature of creativity and how you can channel your own creative side.
  • the powerful relationship between patience and innovation.

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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