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Mastery | [Robert Greene]

Mastery

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.
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Publisher's Summary

The eagerly anticipated new book from the author of the best-selling 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.

©2012 Robert Greene (P)2012 Penguin Audio

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  •  
    Chlo-bell CLIFTON, VA, United States 01-16-13
    Chlo-bell CLIFTON, VA, United States 01-16-13 Member Since 2007

    Private intellectual, writer, and retired academic. Currently R&D director for Gravitational Systems Engineering, Inc.

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    "Mastery is both a goal and a destination..."

    While many of the ideas have been covered in other books, this author handles the topics with a fresh sense of urgency, and a lot of good illustration. The message is an overlay of the old joke "how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!", with the idea of learning to put your passion first.

    There is no magic here, but an excellent personal trainer. Its worth a listen.

    Gare Henderson

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    david chesapeake, VA, United States 02-02-13
    david chesapeake, VA, United States 02-02-13 Member Since 2009

    I am self-absorbed and...oh wait this isn't an e-mail to my therapist. hehe I love the Science and Technology section here, it's my favorite. I hope to write my reviews at least well enough to peek the interest of a few listeners to the point where they will shift their tastes more toward educational literature, knowing that(after receiving some insight from me) they can be just as entertaining, if not more so than mainstream fiction

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    "Practice Makes Pretty Darn Good!"

    This book is a self-help book, told through use of many famous and inspiring people's lives. Robert Greene shares some ideas for improving our disposition throughout the book, at times even suggesting we be deceptive to co-workers under particular circumstances. I found that tidbit of advice entertaining, if not mildly surprising. The biographical aspects were by far the most exciting for me. Greene was able to bring new life to the iconic persons in his book through bits of their lives, either unbeknownst to me, or shared from a fresh perspective.

    As far as his advice, well I take it as mostly optimistic opinion. He bases his overlying theme of 'long intensive work equals positive results' on real and sound data, however some of the advice seems to be extemporaneous concepts contrived while he was conveying the dilemmas in his subjects lives. Don't get me wrong; good advice is good, whether fabricated off-the-cuff, or through years of mental labor. It just feels awkwardly and forcefully placed, when he puts his ideas in action, as a parallel to these great men and woman's responses to their struggles.

    The narrator was absolutely fine. My idea of a perfect narrator, is one that I don't even regard; I am to engrossed in what I am hearing and interpreting to fathom. I would guess my concentration on the material was broken three times throughout the entire sixteen hours due to mispronunciations. That is by my standards awesome!

    Now that I have the negative criticism out of the way, I would like to say that this is a great book. I found it reminiscent of Malcolm Gladwell's 2008 book, Outliers where he too, writes extensively on the ten thousand hour rule. I learned plenty for the money I spent on it, and who knows I might even decided to master something. Enjoy, this is a great bargain!

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 01-21-13
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 01-21-13 Member Since 2002
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    "what it takes, beyond hard work, to really know it"

    Detailed and far ranging discussion of what it takes to be the best you can be. Examples of both widely known and not so widely known domain experts help illuminate what is required.
    When the author starts riffing on the malevolent aspects of the mentor/mentee relationship, I think he is off base. Setting that aside, any person that has the drive to be the best will learn something from this book. Super narration.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lawrence Boulder, CO, United States 02-19-13
    Lawrence Boulder, CO, United States 02-19-13
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    "The Book You Need Exiting High School"
    What did you love best about Mastery?

    The author uses plenty of example from Davinci to Mozart to Proust to Darwin to Paul Graham to illustrate his points about Mastery and how it is not through some rare gift but through conscious practice and attention to detail. Understanding this and how it relates to your "life's work" can guide career decisions. I wish I had a copy of this when I left high school rather than learning on the job so to speak.


    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    john cook Grand Terrace 06-16-13
    john cook Grand Terrace 06-16-13

    audible master

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    "WOW, I CANT STOP LISTENING"

    I loved this book, very exciting stories and examples of masters being taught by themselves and stories of their apprenticeships. I have listened to this book over 5 times in the first month and I keep getting more and more out of this book. Instant favorite in my collection of over 500 books. Daily listener and this book has excited me more than most.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Sydney, Australia 04-11-13
    Michael Sydney, Australia 04-11-13 Member Since 2007

    Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.

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    "Good advice and well presented."

    This is a good look at what it really takes to be a master. No quick easy silver bullet but just work, insight and sweat. I like Robert Greene's books as I find them very helpful and well written. Wish I had this knowledge when I was starting out. Of course it doesn't answer the problem when your chosen profession or skill you are pursuing disappears or becomes redundant. You're suppose to have the insight to see where the next step is. I have not found that and feel like I am looking in a dark room for a black cat that isn't really there. Never the less this book is well worth the listen to. One of the good self help books.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Chamblee, GA, United States 02-04-13
    John Chamblee, GA, United States 02-04-13 Member Since 2009

    I'm a lawyer and mediator. I represent businesses in disputes with their insurers and in other complex litigation. I also assist machinery companies and manufacturers (primarily international) with equipment sales, non-disclosure agreements, and business issues. I also mediate commercial disputes.

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    "Better if Half the Length"

    The substance of this book is great. It features stories of interesting people who have achieve mastery in their fields. It debunks the myth that masters are born and not made through hard work.

    Great subject matter with interesting stories. What could be better? It would be better if it were eight hours instead of sixteen. The book simply needs a major editing (pruning might be a better word). The book is repetitive and needlessly lengthy, droning on like a politician's speech after the point has already been made.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
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    Sumguynobuddynoes Sioux Falls, SD, United States 01-30-14
    Sumguynobuddynoes Sioux Falls, SD, United States 01-30-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Sunshine hype."
    What would have made Mastery better?

    Relying upon more real principles and less positive mental attitude exercises.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Robert Greene again?

    No. He must be delusional to expect spoken rules to be accepted as eternal principles. Using reason beyond credible limits to justify miraculous results. Like two shaman referring to the same thunderstorm in opposite terms. One desires sacrifice to appease the angry gods and the other declaring that the gods are fighting our battles for us in the heavens. He twists thoughts to support outlandish claims.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Fred Sanders’s performances?

    No. Reading was a repetitious rhythm that was more like a constant commercial than a book reading. He regularly mispronounced words like "omnipotent" in his readings. Always sounding exactly the same in his timbre and pace.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Distrust, a con in the grossest manner. I fell for these same principles and found myself irresponsibly in debt. An "attitude of abundance" does not regard lack as a possibility. My collectors would tend to disagree with that reality. Thinking it so does not make reality go away. It still needs to be addressed.


    Any additional comments?

    It is like the scripture in the bible that spoke of early members of the church saying to the poor, "go home, be fed, all is well, be happy" It did not fill their bellies any more that these words could fill ones own coffers.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bryan SAN CLEMENTE, CA, United States 12-11-13
    bryan SAN CLEMENTE, CA, United States 12-11-13
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    "Repetitive, upholds antiquated paradigms"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No. It repeats the same biographies over and over. I might recommend an abridged version.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Robert Greene again?

    Probably not.


    What does Fred Sanders bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The reader was good.


    Do you think Mastery needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No. Repeated himself enough as it is.


    Any additional comments?

    While there is some great info on masters and useful info on mastery, Greene does not respect the reader's time. I can see the possible value of of spreading a biography over several topical chapters, but many details of each of the biographies are repeated at least 3-4 times. The book therefore has a very drawn-out feel.

    Perhaps more importantly, Greene will often praise a master's tendency to carve his own path, but then he will also stress the importance of walking on eggshells around existing paradigms in "career" paths, as if a career path in profit-driven enterprise is unavoidable and the only way to give voice to your creativity. He does not advise masters to challenge the status quo when it is not prudent. He talks about a fighter pilot's unmatched kill count as if it is an accolade, and not a tragic symptom of pilots having to master a task that should not be necessary. Mastery of flight is one thing, but to exalt a kill count is to miss the point that masters are the ones who should, by their massive action and inner wisdom, be the ones saving us from the necessity to act out our lives within these paradigms, rather than "finding their niche" within a culture to demonstrate their mastery. Again, he does praise masters' staunch individuality, but ultimately forfeits to the notion that the expression of that individuality must manifest within the typical realms of politics, economics, business, academia, etc., ignoring the fact that any true master with half a pair of testicles will not forfeit and will find a way to achieve mastery without any consideration of or acquiescence to the trending pardigms and societal fuckery of the era.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Geoff DENVER, CO, United States 04-14-13
    Geoff DENVER, CO, United States 04-14-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Classic Robert Greene"

    I haven't listened to or read another author that tries to teach life lessons that are relevant today through historic stories from the past. Is he always successfull? No, not always. Is it entertaining and will you learn some cool stories about great masters of the past (think Mozart, Da Vinci)? Yes!

    This book may or may not change your life. The lessons are great and the stories are interesting, however, as with all these self help types of books, you will only see change if you apply it. Fred Sanders does a great job narrating this book (one of the better Narrations I've listed to on a Robert Greene book).

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 60 results PREVIOUS126NEXT
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  • Adam
    Congresbury, United Kingdom
    6/30/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not a revelation"
    Any additional comments?

    More interesting for the biographies than any insight into mastery and self development. Can literally be summed up as 'work hard at what you enjoy and are best at'. Really wanted to like this book but finished a little disappointed at the lack of developed insight.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • I. Reid-Knightley
    Bolton, UK
    4/8/13
    Overall
    "An inspirational insight into success"

    This is an entertaining and insightful examination into what it takes to stand out above the crowd. It helps you to realise that the success of geniuses like Mozart, Leonardo Da Vinci and Michael Faraday wasn't handed to them on a plate and that their natural talents alone did not secure their places in history. The secret ingredients were the love of their subject, their attitude and their determination to succeed despite constant obstacles. This book has helped me to see setbacks and challenges in a different light - often, they are blessings in disguise. Sometimes, they are the very key to success itself.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Rory
    York, United Kingdom
    4/4/13
    Overall
    "Marvelous insight into some of the greats minds"

    Really enjoyed this from start to finish. Some brilliant stories on past and present masters of their fields. The narrative of trying to apply your own mind to do the same I took a bit tongue in cheek. I'm definitely not Mozart..

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • FENG
    Lueven, Belgium
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "Great and life changing"

    It is the book that help u get skills life and jobs done. Finding the thing motivates u from feep within your heart.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Balsall Common, United Kingdom
    12/13/12
    Overall
    "Meandering"

    Goes on for a while and entire sections are repeated. All in all it is a book that somewhat confirms the obvious, but in an entertaining way. The narration sometimes droops a bit and the author hasn't quite mastered the art of being concise.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Max
    Bristol, United Kingdom
    7/26/14
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    "fully furnished foray into the science of success"
    Would you listen to Mastery again? Why?

    I regularly return to Mastery. The book contains such a wide range of case studies, full of both informative lessons and unforgettable anecdotes which show empirical truths in the human psyche across the centuries. As a young person beginning my career, I almost follow it as a guidebook at times, keeping me on track and motivated.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Mastery?

    Each of the case-studies' lives are scintillating biographies, over the last year I have probably cited each of them at various parties and with my friends. I particularly liked hearing the life-story of Benjamin Franklin- who became the polymath he was through making countless bad decisions. He posed as a widow so that his writings would be published by his jealous brother, and then revealed it- then was dismissed and ended up in a printing press in London, where his unwillingness to play along with the other workers led to a 'poltergeist' ruining his work. Each of the stories serves a purpose, they aren't merely anecdotes- I can't praise enough how much I love Robert Greene's 'show, don't tell' approach with this book.


    What does Fred Sanders bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Fred Sanders has a wonderfully colourless voice- not putting his own emotional stamp on its contents, which for such an informative book is a real benefit. I felt very comfortable listening to him and could concentrate indefinitely- sometimes a narrator begins to grate after a while. I also got great enjoyment out of his pronounciation of 'von Goethe'.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Greatness is a code. (?)


    Any additional comments?

    If you are a hard worker and want to get the most out of the brain you have, i recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • GenKan
    5/11/14
    Overall
    Performance
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    "A great start to any aspiring master"
    Where does Mastery rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the best, have listened to funnier but nothing compare to its educational message.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Mastery?

    Einsteins story about his job at the patent office, how a job can be something that helps you eat and give you time to critically think about what you really want to do and become in life.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Temple Grandin and how she overcame autism, becoming a true master.


    Any additional comments?

    A great book and will have examples of things you probably have done subconsciously, but not taking anything away from it just making it even more powerful. Almost turning it into a tool instead of something you think, you feel or would like to be the right way.
    The references to past masters making it a collection of GREAT stories and not too educational.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Petra
    London, United Kingdom
    3/14/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not for me"
    Would you try another book written by Robert Greene or narrated by Fred Sanders?

    No


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Relief


    Was Mastery worth the listening time?

    This was a departure for me. The self help aspects of the book I found irritating and there was a lot of repetition in telling the stories of historical masters. However, the philosophy of his main thrust was reasonable, some aspects of brain development, the evolution of intelligence and some of the mini biographies were interesting.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Pawel
    Corby, United Kingdom
    12/13/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Book that i'd recommend to anyone"

    This is the first book I got from Audible and I'm happy with the choice. I learned much from this book as it show you what it takes to be good in something. It is hard work , we sometimes resist doing and calling ourself talentless. But talent without the long hours of hard work to put in is nothing. I will definately some back to this book and listen to it again as it is really inspiring. Again, I would recommend this book to anyone...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Marcus
    SANDHURST, United Kingdom
    7/17/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well researched and tight message throughout"
    What did you like most about Mastery?

    Robert Greene always produces interesting content and researches it very well. He is thorough and his writing is engaging as he weaves the stories of various masters of their discipline throughout the ages, bringing theme after theme together to tie the subject together in comprehensive manual for intellectually understanding mastery.

    Worth a read. Very interesting in both content and context.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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