Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power and The Art of Seduction (both from Profile), has a degree in Classical Studies and has been an editor at Esquire and other magazines. He is also a playwright and lives in Los Angeles. Click here for his website.
Greene and Elffers have created an heir to Machiavelli's Prince, espousing principles such as, everyone wants more power; emotions, including love, are detrimental; deceit and manipulation are life's paramount tools. Anyone striving for psychological health will be put off at the start, but the authors counter, saying "honesty is indeed a power strategy," and "genuinely innocent people may still be playing for power." Amoral or immoral, this compendium aims to guide those who embrace power as a ruthless game, and will entertain the rest. Elffers's layout (he is identified as the co-conceiver and designer in the press release) is stylish, with short epigrams set in red at the margins. Each law, with such allusive titles as "Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy," "Get Others to Do the Work for You, But Always Take the Credit," "Conceal Your Intentions," is demonstrated in four ways‘using it correctly, failing to use it, key aspects of the law and when not to use it. Illustrations are drawn from the courts of modern and ancient Europe, Africa and Asia, and devious strategies culled from well-known personae: Machiavelli, Talleyrand, Bismarck, Catherine the Great, Mao, Kissinger, Haile Selassie, Lola Montes and various con artists of our century. These historical escapades make enjoyable reading, yet by the book's conclusion, some protagonists have appeared too many times and seem drained. Although gentler souls will find this book frightening, those whose moral compass is oriented solely to power will have a perfect vade mecum. BOMC and Money Book Club alternates. Author tour. (Sept.)
Niccolo Machiavelli wrote The Prince (1513) as an amoral guide to practicing power in a dangerous world. Author Greene (formerly at Esquire) and collaborator Joost, the packager of many books for Penguin Studios, including best sellers like The Secret Language of Birthdays, give us an updated version for obtaining and using power today. The book is arranged into 48 laws concentrating on interaction among individuals. Readers are advised not to outshine the boss, not to trust friends too much, to court attention, keep people dependent on you, use selective honesty, distrust the free lunch, and crush enemies. Examples from classical, European, Chinese, and Japanese history illustrate these points, as do hints from American con men like Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil. Further illustrations are taken from Henry Kissinger, Napoleon, and Haile Selassie. The book's ideas apply to politics, the workplace, and human relationships as a whole. Moral purists will be appalled by it; amoral survivors will like its frank nature. Schools might want to consider this new interpretation for ethics classes. Recommended for all libraries. [For another interpretation of Machiavelli, see Alistair McAlpine's The New Machiavelli: The Art of Politics in Business, reviewed on p. 90‘Ed.]‘Stephen L. Hupp, Univ. of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Lib., PA