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The Laws of Human Nature Hardcover – October 23, 2018
"Devoted" by Dean Koontz
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From the Publisher
“The writing is engaging and the ideas are fascinating… we could all use the insights Greene provides.... a hopeful book that advocates freedom and creativity.” -- Quartz
"The lessons have profound implications. There's a chapter on reading body language that is absolutely profound; each "law" has stunningly vivid descriptions of an historical figure.” -- Inc.
“The Laws of Human Nature provides some first-rate comprehensive and in-depth information about how to deal with our fellow human beings effectively. Greene’s intense curiosity about the inner workings of humanity is contagious, as he invites us to join him as fellow sleuths on his investigation of why people, including ourselves, do what we do. He rightly (and frequently) reminds us that in order to understand others, we must first and foremost understand what makes ourselves tick.” -- New York Journal of Books
"In this detailed and expansive guide, Greene (Mastery) seeks to … transform the reader into a 'calmer and more strategic observer,' immune to 'emotional drama.' Those are lofty promises, but even skeptics will become believers after diving into Greene’s well-organized text. Overcoming the “law of irrationality,” for instance, leads to the ability to “open your mind to what is really happening, as opposed to what you are feeling.” Greene’s thoughtful examination of self and society will, for the committed reader, deliver a refreshing and revitalizing perspective." -- Publishers Weekly
Praise for Robert Greene:
"Greene's specialty is analyzing the lives and philosophies of historical figures like Sun Tzu and Napoleon, and extracting from them tips on how to manipulate people and situations--a cutthroat worldview that has earned him a devoted following among a like-minded readership of rappers, drug dealers and corporate executives." —The New York Times
Praise for The 48 Laws of Power:
"Machiavelli has a new rival. And Sun Tzu had better watch his back. Greene . . . has put together a checklist of ambitious behavior. Just reading the table of contents is enough to stir a little corner-office lust."—New York magazine
"Beguiling . . . literate . . . fascinating. A wry primer for people who desperately want to be on top."—People
"An heir to Machiavelli's Prince . . . gentler souls will find this book frightening, those whose moral compass is oriented solely to power will have a perfect vade mecum." —Publishers Weekly
"Satisfyingly dense and . . . literary, with fantastic examples of genius power-game players. It's The Rules meets In Pursuit of Wow! with a degree in comparative literature."—Allure
About the Author
- Item Weight : 2.05 pounds
- ISBN-10 : 0525428143
- ISBN-13 : 978-0525428145
- Hardcover : 624 pages
- Product Dimensions : 6.44 x 1.87 x 9.53 inches
- Publisher : Viking (October 23, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #6,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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You can tell he put an incredible amount of research into the topic of human nature. As I read the introduction and saw the authorities he was going to cite to make his points, I was glued and kept turning the page to see how he would pull it off. I noticed subtle changes to his style—the chapters are longer, he’s more often quoting scientific principles instead of historical examples, and each law is stuffed with definitions of different cognitive biases we all suffer from. Each time he told the story of an historical figure, I read with curiosity to find out how he would use their experience to make his point. I was disappointed with the results. It came across to me as Greene offering encyclopedic knowledge of the subjects rather than presenting insightful takeaways. After a few chapters I soon lost interest and ended up skimming the rest.
This made me question why I lost interest in this book after being hooked to his previous ones—was the problem him or me? I had to compare this to his older books to find out.
You can tell this book looks slightly different from his previous ones without buying it: it doesn’t pull you in with beautiful graphic design like his other books do; the table of contents is minimal, unlike his previous books where each section comes with a description; and the back cover will make you squint your eyes as it takes a second to comprehend.
The first law in The 48 Laws of Power is “Never Outshine the Master”. It’s 7 pages. It starts with a 3 sentence “judgement”, followed by two memorable stories: one “transgression of the law” and one “observance of the law”, with his interpretations after each. He wraps it up with his “keys to power”, which peppers in more historical examples. On the sides of the pages are quotes, poems, and short stories, all related to the law. The graphic design and color makes it easy to scan. It’s smart, easy to read, and easy to remember.
Now look at the first chapter in this book. Its 28 pages. “Master Your Emotional Self”. A longer 6 sentence description. The first six pages are a story of the law and the remaining 22 are about his observations and lessons. Instead of using historical examples to persuade us, he’s quoting scientific studies and explaining different cognitive biases. The whole design is black and white, and just one quote at the end of the chapter. Instead of leaving the chapter remembering a compelling narrative about the dangers of throwing a nicer party than your boss, I’m left with a hazy memory of him listing a few cognitive biases that I generally already knew about and agreed with.
I know this is a small sample size, but it shows the main differences: Human Nature is longer, trades stories for science and lectures, less memorable, and not something you can pick up for ten minutes at a time.
This book doesn’t have the charm that makes Robert Greene’s other books classics. You wont find yourself quoting a law to someone, or picking it up off your bookshelf to read a chapter you found interesting a month from now, because thats not how it’s structured. It’s long and covers a wide variety of topics. At almost 600 pages, it feels like he sacrificed readability to fit in a few more topics he wants you to know about.
2nd day - Oh my god I have been repressing my essentially anger nature for years.
This book rapidly alerted me to the parts of myself that I have been trying to hide from myself for years.
In addition to that this book will give you a bunch of information on how to understand and interact with other people.
The change in format is not for the better nor is the execution. The real problem is that Greene goes on too long in his explanations of each law. It becomes boring at times. The discussion on narcissists borders on obsession. This book is closer to Mastery than it is his other works.
There's still much to like of course. I think his explanations of the laws are correct and useful. Just too much. The historical examples are excellent of course but there are too few of them.
If you are a Greene fan I think you'll see this one is different and just not up to the excellence of past works. Still enjoyable and worth the purchase. Just not overwhelmingly great.
As others have commented, there is a strange feel about this book. Almost as if this book had been written by a ghost writer instead of Robert Green.
Whereas previous books of him were poetic and insightful this one is naive, new edgy, and prosaic.
After much reflection, I returned both, the book and the audiobook.
You, however, need to make your own mind. I know it wasn’t easy for me to return a book from an author I admire.
Top reviews from other countries
After six years of research on the subject of human nature, Robert Greene places his findings in a new gem, The Laws of Human Nature. He advises us, with copious historical examples, to let go of our tendency to judge people but rather to open our mind to seeing people in a new light.
Why six years?
In a digital age, where one could get books written in seconds, why would Greene choose to spend six years working on a book?
First, and this is my guess, Greene uses absence to create respect (Law 16 in The 48 Laws of Power). Second, he understands the dangers of not saturating the market with quantity but rather with quality books. With five classical books under his belt, he surely doesn't need to increase his reputation by publishing anything of mediocre quality.
What’s more important, Greene’s books are well researched. And good research in any subject takes time. The book speaks for itself.
Tell me more about the book…
Any Greene fan knows his books are punctuated with anecdotes. The Laws of Human Nature follows suit—in a typical Greenian structure—historical analogies, important keys and explicit summaries.
Whether or not Greene’s books should be found in the self-help shelves is a moot point. That said, The Laws of Human Nature, carries within it that motivational undertone. In Law 8 (Change Your Circumstances by Changing Your Attitude), for example, the author gives away free hint that helps the reader to elevate their minds from current realities. This is something you’d find in Jack Cranfield book, The Success Principles(2004). In this bright chapter, he advices us to go though life by understanding that attitude colours our perceptions. With example of the Russian author, Anton Chekov, the reader is reminded that life is what he/she desires it to be. These little sprinklings some would argue is un-Greene-like. Sentences like “get in the habit of writing your dreams down and pay deep attention to their feeling tone” would read strange to those who only see Greene as that Machiavellian lecturer. However, I would personally argue that this is refreshing.
In addition, his past works, especially Arts of Seduction(2001), Mastery(2012) and 33 Strategies of War(2006) stream into the pages of The Laws of Human Nature. Especially the part of self-mastery which is a strong thematic feature in Greene’s works. In Laws of Human Nature he reminds us to gauge our strengths and weaknesses and work on annihilating those weaknesses. Knowing ones character will help one in breaking what he calls “compulsive patterns”. However, our ability to find them in others puts us on another pedestal as we are able to sniff false fronts in this social media age. He reminds us that we must avoid weak characters as they are prone to quenching the good qualities an individual might possess. These individuals are enumerated in the toxic types, including but not limited to: the big talker, the personalizer, the pampered prince/princess. Anyone who has read Strategies of War would see some of these advice as a reminder.
What’s more, Greene has the capability to paint pictures in simple sentences. For example, on in Elevate Your perspectives (law 6)
“In a world that is complex, with myriad dangers that loom in the future, our short term tendencies pose a continual threat to our well-being and as our attention spans decrease because of technology, the threat is even greater. In many ways we are defined by our relationship to time. When we simply react to what we see and hear, when we swing from excitement and exuberance to fear and panic at each new piece of dramatic news, when we hear our actions toward gaining as much pleasures as possible in the moment without a thought for future consequences, we can say that we are giving in our animal nature, to what is primitive and potentially destructive in our neurological makeup.” (Greene, 2018:161). Such paragraphs leaves us with moments to reflect on contemporary nature of human coexistence.
For further discussion:
On Narcissistic Spectrum, Greene argues that another level of narcissism exist in entrepreneurs and “for many of these leader types,” he argues that their instability and chaos will be mirrored in the company or group they lead. They cannot forge a coherent structure or organisation. Everything must flow through them.” (Greene,2018:46) This argument is double edged: on one hand, he argues that they can’t build organisations. Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, just to mention these three come to mind here. Although these business icons fall under this spectrum but one could argue that they created companies and, sometimes, coherence exists. Narcissism carries its own advantages and perhaps, it needs to be buoyed for one to know how to use it one's satisfaction.
Why Four Stars?
As a Greene fan, I would have loved to make this five stars. But, in comparison to his other works, I don’t think The Laws of Human Nature has that sharpness the other books carry. However, I’d still recommend it to friends who are particularly interested in finding the self and understanding the human in others.
Well, Greene, as always in his works, leaves the reader to take his work as it is or leave it. Explaining a lot and leaving the audience to do the thinking themselves. There are a lot of open ended advices in the book but, overall, the book delivers it's message and shines a new light on features of human nature.
As Greene convalesces (after suffering from a fatal stroke), I wish him speedy recovery and more importantly, I’d give a piece of advice from his book: “people can recover much more quickly from illness through sheer desire and willpower.” I hope he recovers quickly.
And other than introducing yourself to you, it also helps you understand other people's character based on their behavioural pattern. One major change I have observed in Mr. Greene's writing is that in 48 Laws, the major theme was people would consciously try to harm you. But here in this new book, he goes on to say that most of the times, they might not even do it consciously. I really loved that concept as that is the reality.
Mr. Greene is one of the greatest interpreters of human behaviour ever. Thank you so much sir for such a great piece of writing. Reading this book was more of a spiritual experience to me.
There is so much to learn from this book. This tells you all the things to look out for in others as well as yourself.
The end result is you begin to analyse people and you learn to deal with them better.
The structure of the book is brilliant. Each chapter is like the following:
- First he tells the story of a historical figure displaying certain human characteristics.
- An interpretation of the story and events.
- Followed by 'The Keys to Human Nature' as to how and why we display such traits.
- And then it tells you ways of dealing with people who have the aforementioned characteristsics and see how you can find them in yourself.
It says at the back "You are about to become an apprentice in human nature." Indeed.
This is something you can refer to again and again. When you study each chapter and analyse yourself, you begin to see things in yourself that you weren't even aware of. Once you spot the human traits within you, you start to see them in others and this is where you think of strategies of dealing with people. This is what makes the book so enlightening.
It is very hard to look in the mirror and admit your flaws. But what really pays off is once you acknowledge your weaknesses, you become stronger, and a better person. Robert Greene writes in a friendly manner that makes you feel like you are taking advice from a wise teacher.
This book has improved my life. In fact it's getting better at understanding myself and the people around me.
Once you study the book thoroughly your perspective will change definitely about people and yourself. You will be able to predict people’s moves and also why they act the way they do. You will save time and energy from small as well as grave mistakes you might have committed. And last but not the least you will be able to turn the tables in any adverse situations.