Robert Greene is an American writer born in 1959. He was raised in Los Angeles, and attended the University of California, Berkeley but ended up getting his degree in classical studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. According to Greene, he was obsessed with anything related to Ancient Greece.
However, after he left college, life didn’t go smoothly and as according to plan. The California author didn’t keep score, but claims he must have had about 80 jobs before he started publishing books. His positions were varied too. He’s worked as a translator, a screen-writer, a magazine editor, and even as a construction worker.
His big break came in Italy. He was working as a writer for Fabrica in the South European country when he met book packager Joost Elffers. Greene pitched his idea for a book to Elffers – his later international best-seller, The 48 Laws of Power – and Elffers was intrigued by the idea and took him up on it.
His enormous success in the mid-nineties has carried on to today. Currently, Robert Greene is the author of six books in total, and below you can find a short review of five of the best books by Robert Greene which we have picked out for you.
The 48 Laws of Power
The inspiration for The 48 Laws of Power comes, according to Greene, from the empirical knowledge he amassed in the years after college, where he had to scrapple to make a living. Obviously, his experience concentrated mostly on life from the receiving end of the Laws of Power, not from the throne of the master wielding it. Perhaps that’s why he has such a refreshing and honest take on them.
Greene’s inspiration for the book came from History’s great men – rulers, thinkers and military men alike – which Greene believed shared many of the traits that bind together the powerful elite of our times. He then synthesized the pearls of wisdom these ruthless men – and women, they played a role too – of today and yesterday in an easy to follow, 48-chapter book. Greene’s Laws are meant to propel you to become powerful yourself, to help you stand out, and not get cheated and have the wool pulled over your eyes.
It has been widely criticized as amoral and “evil”, because Laws such as Never outshine the Master or Never put too much trust in Friends will already let you know the path this book will take you down: it’s a cunning and ruthless one, because the aim here is power, not making friends. Plus, Greene was inspired by Machiavelli, which speaks volumes by itself.
Fun fact: this book is revered by many rappers and moguls, and is, apparently, one of the most requested books in prison libraries in the United States of America! Greene believes anyone can be rich and powerful, you just need to know the rules. And The 48 Laws of Power has a blueprint.
The Art of Seduction: An Indispensible Primer on the Ultimate Form of Power
The Art of Seduction was the second book Greene published, in 2001. It flows directly out of the insights he delivered and delved into in the first of this Robert Greene’s best book series, his 48 laws. Power and seduction do walk hand in hand, after all.
Because, what is seduction, anyway? “Seduction is the ultimate form of power. Those who give into it do so willingly and happily. There is rarely any resentment on their part; they forgive you any kind of manipulation because you have brought them pleasure, a rare commodity in the world.” The Art of Seduction is not a treaty on how to help you get lucky, it’s a systematic approach to charming the pants off of anyone.
This book identifies nine “seducer” archetypes which anyone may fit into, whether it be a Rake, a Dandy, or a Charmer. Each archetype has their own distinctive way of using their attributes to their advantage, and has a different strategy in order to win over the object of their desire. In addition, Greene also profiles 18 types of “victims”, or the psychological profile of those that fall prey to the charms of the seducer.
Definitely an enlightening read if you are interested in the psychological intricacies of attraction and that elusive je ne sais quoi that brings two people together, as it systematizes the complex dance that goes on between two humans when they are mating, even if they are unaware that that is what they are doing.
Also, a great book if you love historical facts and stories from the past – particularly of the courtship genre – because Greene has included many anecdotes to underline his findings that are sure to keep you entertained! Who doesn’t like a little gossip?
The 33 Strategies of War
Remember Pat Benatar’s classic, “Love is a Battlefield”? Well, prepare for DJ Greene’s remix: Life is a battlefield. The premise of the third best Robert Greene book review, published in 2006, 33 Strategies takes centuries of military tactics and intelligence and applies them to every-day life.
How is life like war though, you might ask? (Parents of small children may not wonder) Why do I need offense and defense strategies for the simple stuff I do from Monday to Sunday? In case you haven’t been Keeping Up With Greene, his take on life is somewhat merciless and ruthless, and in his Hobbesian conception of the world it may come as no surprise that this American author suggests turning to warfare psychology to better manage yourself and your surroundings.
Here’s the cherry on top though: you’re not just at war with the world, you’re at war with yourself! The first part of the book is entirely dedicated to “Self-Directed Warfare”, or how to beat yourself. It’s a rather more bellicose path to self-growth than the one followed by traditional self-help books, but if you’re a natural fighter and like to live life with your metaphorical guns a’ blazing, this could be an eye- opener.
As usual, Robert Greene turns to battling eminences of the past, so you’ll be introduced to the genius of the likes of Napoleon, Margaret Thatcher, Hannibal, and many more.
Mastery is the synthesis of the best books by Robert Greene for two reasons: it was his fifth book, which he got to work on after publishing The 50th Law, and it is also a compendium and the result of all the research he put into his previous four books.
It was published in November 2012, and contains the secret to great success. Greene discovered, after combing through pages and pages of information on the lives of the Greats of History, that their paths to success shared some commonalities.
In the making of this work, the author turned his attention to present-day masters who are still alive, and interviewed them to get them to spill the beans. These masters include tech guru Paul Graham and Temple Grandin, animal-rights activist.
Robert Greene argues that we are all searching for power. So, we had better get clear on what is holding us back, because it is an achievable goal for most of us. Mastery will help you unlock your full potential, and pave the way to you becoming a master in your own right and field by overcoming the obstacles in the way.
The Laws of Human Nature
By now we have established that Robert Greene likes to write about Laws. Especially because he also wrote The 50th Law with rapper 50-cent! And now he’s back with a compendium on human nature – how to spot the flaws in others and in yourself, and flip them to help you.
The New York Times best-seller author softens his famous / notorious (depends on your view) Machiavellian grimness. It’s not all about defeating the enemy anymore, or of taking advantage of other’s weaknesses to scale to the heights of power. It’s about digging deep, seeing what’s really behind people’s motivations, peeking behind the mask most of us live behind. We even wear the mask when we’re looking in the mirror, which is why self-exploration is a must.
Yes, the Laws of Human Nature isn’t always a breezy, light and lofty read; but neither is its subject now, is it? It does contain insights into the human psyche, which will inevitably help the readers tackle everyday issues, whether it be at work, at home, in personal relationships, etc. Knowing the needs and motivations of others is the first step to negotiating, which in turn, is the first step to getting what you want in life. Read this Robert Greene’s best book and you’ll be that much closer.
Robert Greene’s books are recommended for readers that have a penchant for power dynamics. For aspiring rappers, Robert Greene may also be your go-to writer if you want to follow in the footsteps of famous hip-hop and rap artists; they seem to think they have a thing or two to learn from Robert Greene.