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Mastery by Robert Greene

Mastery (2012)

by Robert Greene

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This was an audiobook listen from audible.com for me. I did find parts of this book interesting. Greene has lots of stories of would-be-masters and how they got to put on their A game. Unfortunately it was also very repetitive. Everytime Greene cycles back to a piece of someone's story, he retells their earlier story. The result is that you are wondering if you read that section already because in a sense you have.

One comment that rates wholly to the audio presentation is that there is no way for audiobook readers to look at the table of contents for this book. All you get is unnamed chapters to navigate by. I appreciate being able to x-ray a book but this and many other audio books deny me (and everyone else) the pleasure ( )
  Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |
4 stars

I'll probably end up rereading this at one point and maybe buying it. ( )
  JennysBookBag.com | Sep 28, 2016 |
Sometimes you read a book, just when you need its message at a point in your life.

Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations did that to me a couple of years ago.

Robert Greene’s, Mastery did that to me this year.
As I chart new horizons for my life, it has provided awesome advice and encouragement that’ll help me, keep going.

This is one book, that I will keep coming back to, again and again. ( )
  jasonbraganza | May 3, 2016 |
Great book. If nothing else it's worth reading for the stories. ( )
  ignacy | Sep 11, 2014 |
Robert Greene's Mastery explores the lives of many historical Masters (Mozart, Da Vinci, Proust, etc.) and explains how their Mastery is attainable for everyone. By ignoring societal constraints and complications, following our own interests, serving time in an apprenticeship phase, and staying committed to our craft, Greene believes that everyone can become a Master and make lasting contributions to society.

While I like Greene's message and find his writing to be absorbing, I have some serious concerns about this book. First is the fact that Greene's conclusions stem from extremely shaky "evidence". There are practically no scientific studies cited in this book, and very rarely do Greene's interpretations involve any proof at all. Every piece of evidence that Greene presents to support his theory is anecdotal. Greene is not a scientist himself, and really gives no reason why we should believe his arguments. Throughout this book, I could not help but think that anybody could have come to Greene's conclusions and presented them as facts. So, why should we believe in what Greene has to say? Unfortunately, this book never provides an adequate answer. We are left to assume that what Greene tells us is true, because Robert Greene says so.

Another issue in this book is it's extremely repetitive nature. Every single section tells an anecdote about someone considered a Master in his or her field, and then Greene goes on to explain that this person is a Master only through hard work, something that everyone can achieve. This cycle occurs over and over and over and over and over and over, for 300 crammed pages and is truly exhausting. Even more disconcerting is how Greene will, within his repetitive structure, duplicate anecdotal sections. There are three sections throughout the book that discuss famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach, and each section tells the same exact anecdote. A fact may be added or the story might be expanded at the end, but the reality is that I ended up reading the same story three times (never has Roach been given such exposure in a book that has absolutely nothing to do with boxing). The effect is nearly maddening and forced me to skim over various sections, searching for new information.

While I found a number of flaws with this book, I don't want to take anything away from Greene's prose. The book is well written, provides interesting mini-biographies about famous figures, and can be quite captivating in the areas that till new ground. But, for me, it is hard to take a book seriously when it relies so much on anecdotes and ignores the need for any scientific evidence. In a book about Mastery, it's clear that Greene is no Master of science, no Master of proof, and no Master of Mastery, but is, instead, simply a Master of selling books.

Thanks to Viking Books and First Reads for sending me the ARC of this book.
1 vote PlayingBooky | Apr 2, 2013 |
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Everyone holds his fortune in his own hands, like a sculptor the raw material he will fashion into a figure. But it's the same with that type of artistic activity as with all others: We are merely born with the capability to do it. The skill to mold the material into what we want must be learned and attentively cultivated -------- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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There exists a form of power and intelligence that represents the high point of human potential.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670024961, Hardcover)

The eagerly anticipated new book from the author of the bestselling The 48 Laws of Power

What did Charles Darwin, middling schoolboy and underachieving second son, do to become one of the earliest and greatest naturalists the world has known? What were the similar choices made by Mozart and by Caesar Rodriguez, the U.S. Air Force’s last ace fighter pilot? In Mastery, Robert Greene’s fifth book, he mines the biographies of great historical figures for clues about gaining control over our own lives and destinies. Picking up where The 48 Laws of Power left off, Greene culls years of research and original interviews to blend historical anecdote and psychological insight, distilling the universal ingredients of the world’s masters.

Temple Grandin, Martha Graham, Henry Ford, Buckminster Fuller—all have lessons to offer about how the love for doing one thing exceptionally well can lead to mastery. Yet the secret, Greene maintains, is already in our heads. Debunking long-held cultural myths, he demonstrates just how we, as humans, are hardwired for achievement and supremacy. Fans of Greene’s earlier work and Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers will eagerly devour this canny and erudite explanation of just what it takes to be great.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:29 -0400)

Robert Greene, the "modern Machiavelli" debunks the prevailing mythology of success and presents a radical new way to greatness.

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