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What Would Machiavelli Do? The Ends Justify the Meanness Paperback – July 28, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; Reprint edition (July 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0066620104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0066620107
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #393,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Machiavelli would feel at home in industry today. You don't need a birthright to be a modern prince--just an impulsive ruthlessness such as he described four centuries ago while trying to get back into the good graces of a Medici nobleman. A clever guy like him could really go places. Stanley Bing, a columnist for Fortune, is also a clever guy. In real life he has another name and works for a media company (a very, very clever person could probably patch together the clues he offers and figure out the company, if not the actual person), and as such he's been our spy behind corporate lines since he first started writing for Esquire back in 1984. In What Would Machiavelli Do? Bing gleefully offers hard-boiled Machiavellian advice about whom to fire in a downsizing (consultants first, secretaries last), how to make employees love you ("Give them perks.... When they're spending your money, you own them"), and why it's important that you also kick ass (one of the ways: "cutting them off curtly when they speak") and take names (so people know you'll not only hurt them, you'll also go after their friends). The overriding lesson of this book is always to love yourself, never apologize for anything you do, and when all else fails, recognize that the truth is flexible, and so can be bent any way you want. What makes all this amorality funny is that Bing plays it straight, putting his ruthless advice into an easily digestible how-to format. Sometimes the only way you can tell it's satire is when he mixes the musings of Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot in with those of modern business figures such as former Sunbeam CEO "Chainsaw" Al Dunlap. Firing people, killing people--same rules, different game. --Lou Schuler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Stanley Bing is a columnist for Fortune magazine and the bestselling author of Crazy Bosses, What Would Machiavelli Do?, Throwing the Elephant, Sun Tzu Was a Sizzy, 100 Bullshit Jobs . . . And How to Get Them, and The Big Bing, as well as the novels Lloyd: What Happened and You Look Nice Today. By day he is an haute executive in a gigantic multinational corporation whose identity is one of the worst-kept secrets in business.


More About the Author

Stanley Bing is a columnist for Fortune magazine and the bestselling author of Crazy Bosses, What Would Machiavelli Do?, Throwing the Elephant, Sun Tzu Was a Sissy, 100 Bullshit Jobs..And How to Get Them, and The Big Bing, as well as the novels Lloyd: What Happened and You Look Nice Today. By day he is an haute executive in a gigantic multinational corporation whose identity is one of the worst-kept secrets in business.

Customer Reviews

Very fun book to read.
Jewels8
I.e., to be effective a prince must set aside interpersonal compassion in the interest of the state (*not* his own self-interest).
jj caulwell
This book tells you one thing, if you want to be someone in this life, get off the pot and get to work.
Yvonne Izmajlowicz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a five-star book if you're interested in the decadence and peril of corporate culture, or if you like Stanley Bing. It's a SIX STAR book if you work for the real-life Bing and have learned anything at all from its pages.
"What Would Machiavelli Do" is both a satire of America's sadistic corporate culture AND an instruction book on how to be a ruthless, self-indulgent ladder-climber.
It's very funny, except when you think too much about it. Bing acknowledges and accepts--even celebrates--the twisted idiosyncrasies of life among the suits; stuff that would make any blue collar worker or crunchy granola idealist puke. But it's all true, and that's the sad part. Bing sees it all for how strange it is, and it's his perception that enables him to both make fun of the system while succeeding in it. It's a strange contradiction. It's as if business were a mudhole and Bing glides along easily without ever getting dirty because he has a profound understanding of mud.
Anyway, I liked it. The book put in writing a lot of what I thought about the business world, and a lot that nobody in upper management would ever admit to.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By i-read on February 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I got a real kick out of reading this book--it's humorous and I would hope that people take it at that. It's not a philosophical romp or anything of the like--it's just funny.
What ISN'T funny is that it demonstrates a sad state of affairs in business culture today and of yesteryear. Knowing there are managers out there that do practice these principles is somewhat disturbing; you don't have to be a jerk to get ahead.
If anything, this book tells you how to look out for these people--it's up to you to beat them at their own game.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I'll have to write this review anonymously, because one can't publicly admit to enjoying and agreeing with this book. Bing speaks too many unspeakable truths about the business world. His writing style is bracingly frank yet witty. The drill sergeant for business world recruits. With each new chapter, Bing reminds us that the reality of business is more horrible and ruthless than we can comprenend. Do you think he's exaggerating? Hardly at all. Beneath the cynicism and dark humor, the overall thrust of the book MUST be taken seriously. Fresh out of college, I worked for a businesss owner who acted just like the bosses he describes in this book. Within two months, he fired me and ruined my career. You ignore Bing's cyincal advice at your own peril. There are no real workplace rights. With weak labor unions and "Employment At Will" as the rule, bosses are free to act this way and get away with it. Everything he describes about the business world goes against my nature. I now know that I'm doomed.I must give you a warning, though. Following Bing's advice can just as easily get you fired as advance you. If you're at the bottom of the corporate ladder, or in a job with no ladder, following his advice WILL get you fired! This advice is only for people who are already on their way up. Use his advice judiciously. Reading this book is like having a bucket of ice water dumped on your head. It's painfully shocking, but you MUST endure it if you hope to survive and advance in the business world. Ultimately, you'll be glad you did.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dark Mechanicus JSG on October 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
Career stalled out? Tired of being Mr. Nice Guy and getting savaged by all the young, smiling MBAs clambering up the sides of your cubicle with rapine, blood, murder and stock options in their eyes? Tired of seeing that snarling 30-something driving the new Italian supercar exotic while you're trying to get your beat-up 1995 Camry to turn over?

Fantasize about having that corner office on the 49th floor with the working fireplace, adjoining bedroom, and full washroom with a steam shower---and, what the Hell, your own chef?

In short, are you tired of being a chump, and are you ready to be King of the Corporate Jungle? No?

Figures. Go back to making copies of the pitchbook for the Mangelbrucher account, you schlep---and make sure you book yourself on coach for the due diligence trip out to Milwaukee!

Where were we? Oh yeah: Do you think that the people who succeed wildly in society are brigher than you? Of *course* they're not!

They're just meaner.

Meaner than most. Certainly Meaner than you, which is the whole point of Stanley Bing's marvellous little book, "What would Machiavelli Do" which draws on classic philosophy to give you a primer for revamping your career, your outlook, and ultimately attaining your dream goal of wielding power, throwing money around, and making the corporate stiffs around you cower in their Guccis.

Oh yeah, and kicking a** and taking names. Lots of a**. Lots of names.

Witty, engaging, mercifully brief, and broken down into nice bullet-points (because who the Hell has time for drawn-out literature these day? Not the Meanies in the executive suite, that's for sure!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
It is supremely ironic and supremely sad and scary that many of your reviewers have not caught on to the fact that this book is a SATIRE. "Mr. Bing" is not advocating the Machiavellian approach but is loathsome of those who behave this way in corporate America.
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