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Power Money Fame Sex: A User's Guide Paperback – August 28, 2001

3.9 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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If the title of this book sounds about as silly as a headline from Mademoiselle or Cosmopolitan, rest assured: author Gretchen Craft Rubin has highbrow credentials. An adjunct professor at Yale University and former editor in chief of The Yale Law Journal, she was also a clerk for the U.S. Supreme Court under Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and served as counsel to Federal Communications Commission chairman Reed Hundt. The book's references are highbrow, too, with Rubin quoting and alluding to everyone from Machiavelli and Sun Tzu to Plutarch, Shakespeare, and Edith Wharton.

That said, the book is still rather, well, silly, albeit more fun and dishy than the average book on getting ahead. It's sort of what you'd expect if People magazine or US Weekly were to put out career guides. Here we learn all sorts of traits that mark the powerful (Ronald Reagan reinstated much of the pomp of the presidency after it was clear the public hadn't gone for President Carter's "common man" approach); the rich (Christina Onassis had her 10-seater airplane fly between France and New York once a week to ship her 100 bottles of Diet Coke, which wasn't available in France); the very famous (Madonna's bodyguards forbad the staff of a hotel where she was staying to speak her name, talk to, or so much as directly look at her); and the sexy (Marilyn Monroe was reputed to have cut a quarter-inch off the heel of one shoe to achieve her legendary "wiggling" walk).

Unfortunately, the book is more effective in relating these anecdotes--what people have done once they've achieved power, wealth, fame, or sexiness (which, of course, involves varying amounts of the prior three characteristics, depending on whom one is trying to attract), or what we, humble readers, might do ourselves once we arrive--than it is in telling us how to get there ourselves. It's a bit like a title it even mentions once, the early 1980s hit The Official Preppy Handbook. That little item also purported to be a how-to, but its delineation of a clearly inbred, elitist lifestyle was meant to be laughed at as much as it was to be taken seriously. Not that you won't learn anything here--far from it: Power Money Fame Sex is astute on every page. It's simply that the thing appears designed to entertain more than to actually edify poor slobs like the rest of us. --Timothy Murphy --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Wisdom and fun abound on every page of this delicious hybrid of two popular genres: self-help and lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous. Gleefully offering strategic advice for the unabashedly ambitious (e.g., "If you're charismatic, make sure you have writers and historians around you"), Craft Rubin distills key research findings into True Rules of alarming simplicity, such as "Those who marry for money earn every penny" and "Succs de scandale is better than no succs at all." Decked out in a kicky graphic design, the primary text is interspersed with useful tips ("Never give anonymously"), photographs of celebrities flaunting their privileges and quotations from writers as diverse as Henry Adams and Judith Krantz. An adjunct professor at the Yale Law School, Craft Rubin offers generous servings of dish on such subjects as the number of times a day the late duchess of Windsor had her hair done, and spins through a discussion of crassly calculating tactics with apparent ease, in a tone adeptly balanced between dead-seriousness and tongue-in-cheek humor. Chapters on the blues associated with scaling the heights of power, money, fame and/or sex will prove reassuring to all who have fallen short of their personal goals in these areas. Craft Rubin's hilarious categories of "trustafarians," "split-erati," "fame parasites," "stalker-azzi," "arm candy" and "jackpots" could easily pass into common parlance as exactly the right terms for the most obnoxiously self-absorbed climbers in any chic coterie. Agents, Christy Fletcher and Michael Carlisle. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atria (August 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671041290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671041298
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,328,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
...This is both a guide and an antiguide, according toMs. Rubin. "If you're a striver, you'll find material to spur you on." "If you're a nonstriver, . . . you can use the guide defensively . . . ." Much like Machiavelli before her, then, the information can be used in a variety of ways. The information itself is described in morally neutral ways (hence, amoral). That point will upset many people, much as the moral neutrality (and supreme practicality) of Machiavelli does.
How can one be neutral about the subject of using other people for base pleasures? Perhaps no one can. Upon closer inspection, some elements of the book are not so neutral. For example, there is something morally uplifting about having a negative reaction to the grubby details of striving for more power, money, fame and sex! This is an important point because much of what you read in this book has to cause you to disapprove. I imagine few will be inspired by the image of the business tycoon who yells so loudly at subordinates that they are constantly drenched in saliva in addition to having their ears and egos abused. Few women will be enthralled by the descriptions of athletes who send seating attendants to proposition female fans for a quick interlude before locker room interviews begin after the game.
Ms. Rubin also sneaks in the consequences in another way. Each section ends in a discussion of "the blues" -- the downside of having achieved one's strivings. Many people find themselves profoundly unhappy. Thoughtful people will wonder why bother if the results aren't worth the candle. That undoubtedly had to be the intent of including these smuggled antigratification observations into a book about how to strive to get these gratifications.
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Format: Paperback
From reading the 22 previous reviews of Ms. Rubin's PMFS to date, it appears that people either loved it or hated it. To those who hated it, I would suggest that they are reacting to her words as if they were prescriptions, rather than the unjudgemental description of human behavior that I believe the book to be. Ms. Rubin is not advocating for anything here. She is merely describing how people act with one another in modern society. If someone finds what Ms. Rubin has written to be shocking, I'd suggest that this is only because she portrays human conduct so accurately. I'm don't believe that Ms. Rubin is saying anything new. What is new, is that she has compiled an extensive, well-organized catalog of human behavior as it relates to PMF and S. Further, she provides the answer to the moral qualms on the last two pages.

I thought so much of her cold wisdom that I put the book in the mail to my son at college today, in the hope that Ms. Rubin's insights will help him weather life's storms a little better. First Corinthians this is not, but neither should it be. That kind of wisdom is available elsewhere. Ms. Rubin's kind of wisdom is harder to come by.

Ms. Rubin's facts are astonishly abundant, and clearly illustrate her points ("true facts"...I think is how she puts it.) It would be interesting if the book had been footnoted rather than just a selected bibliography, but perhaps that would be gilding the lily. Maybe, I just want to know where she found all this out.

I am rapidly becoming an enormous fan of Ms. Rubin's works, and regret that she is not making a tour to promote her newest work about JFK. I would pay good money to sit for an evening and listen to what Ms Rubin has to say.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book after stumbling across it in the sociology section at Borders. I flipped through it and found some humorous and insightful comments and decided to buy it to lighten up my reading, as I primarily read Peter Drucker, other management books and some philosophy. I thought the book would be some light-hearted humor and I wasn't disappointed!
The author, Gretchen Craft Rubin, is an extremely witty woman. While her background is law the book has tons of comments from famous historical figures such as Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Plutarch, Shakespeare, and Edith Wharton.
The book is segmented, as expected, into the 4 sections described in the title (POWER MONEY FAME SEX).
Each section provides some unique insight into human behavior, some examples in recent history and tons of witty comments from historical figures
Here are just some of the examples but, just so you know, the book is not in quotation form.
"People believe, and research proves, that high-status men attract more women easily than low-status men."
"The sex that accompanies your success is a nice perk for all your hard work - a pleasant, convenient way to demonstrate the status you've achieved."
"They envy the pleasures they imagine you've won. Perception drives reality, and your status swells accordingly. "
Playboy Donald Trump "When we walk into a restaurant, I watch grown men weep." He was watching other men's reaction to his date, not his date herself.
Jack Kennedy reported "once I get a woman, I'm not interested in carrying on, for the most part." He was pursuing conquests, not relationships.
LBJ "Goddamn it, I had more women by accident than he ever had by design.
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