What did Charles Darwin, middling schoolboy and underachieving second son, do to become one of the earliest and greatest naturalists the world has known? Read more...
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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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-08-20
- Reviewer: Staff
We are born masters but sometimes, especially during the trials of adulthood, we need external guidance to reach our potential, says bestselling author Greene (The 48 Laws of Power). His description of mastery is reminiscent of what positive psychologists describe as "flow": a state that feels effortless once achieved. Yet mastery requires work. Greene outlines the process in nearly 50 steps, with several overarching themes: retaining a child's sense of wonder, learning from other masters, and avoiding financially motivated goals. The steps are interspersed with the stories of people who have famously achieved success: the Wright Brothers, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Mozart, Temple Grandin, and many more. Relatively few of these examples are contemporary, which poses the question of whether such mastery is possible in our current economic and profit-driven environment. And 48 steps are a little much for even the mastery-oriented mind, and Greene's presentation is disjointed and occasionally confusing. But what this book lacks in clarity it makes up for in its stories and persistent encouragement—the inspiration that is essential for anybody who strives to live a full, mastered life. Agent: Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management. (Nov.)