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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

Critic Reviews

"Greene argues that mastery can come to anyone over time with dedication and application, which literally shape the brain to the task, and he gives frequent bios of famous achievers to underscore his tips and suggestions. Listeners may question his thinking and some of his advice, but Fred Sanders narrates Greene's assertions and arguments with conviction and without overselling, giving them an extra gloss of plausibility and credibility. His reading is clear and well paced. His tone is earnest and slightly intense, with an energetic edge, like that of a coach urging the listener to accomplishment, but controlled, giving an impression of class and intelligence. Greene would make a fine salesman; he and Sanders put the book across, doing their best to inspire the listener." (AudioFile magazine) 

"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)

 "Compelling." (Forbes)

Featured Article: 20 Best Success Audiobooks for Reaching Your Potential


Even the most successful among us needs a good dose of inspiration now and again, and for those still looking toward the horizon of achievement, that little boost is all the more necessary. We compiled selections from podcast hosts, famous investors, and renowned professors alike that give the best analysis on what makes success possible—and the best advice on how to find it for yourself. Navigate the murky waters that lie between you and your goals.

What listeners say about Mastery

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Focus on passion=Less stress and more success

If you could sum up Mastery in three words, what would they be?

Clarity of purpose

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Being great at something and to truly arrive at being great takes 10,000 hours or more. This is a message that is not being presented in today's age. Students think that they can cheat their way to greatness or be distracted by their phones and think that they can delve deep enough into a subject matter to earn a great job. Shortcuts are preached by many in education and politics. We are not meant to multi-task. Success is not a quick-fix away.

What about Fred Sanders’s performance did you like?

Fred Sanders is the best narrator of a Robert Greene book. He tells the stories well and with just enough passion to keep the listener engaged. I wish that the other books were also available unabridged and read by the same performer. The reader of the abridged Power and Seduction books was too smarmy and took away the credibility of the text.

If you could give Mastery a new subtitle, what would it be?

Master your passion, or be mastered by others.

Any additional comments?

This is a great book and I will read it again. I also purchased the print copy. It is easy to become sidetracked by the media and all of the various forms of entertainment and news that is "so important." Even at work, it is easy to major in the minor things and fall prey to the tyranny of the urgent. This book encourages a person to focus on one thing. To do that separates you out from the 99.999% who dabble and waste their potential and their lives never accomplishing anything worthwhile. What sounds like sacrifice actually is a gift of time and clarity of mind. It takes less time to prioritize when there is a singular goal and less time is needed when the goal is so clear.

99 people found this helpful

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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).

59 people found this helpful

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Please write another book Mr. Greene.

I love this author. Great book. Robert Greene is truly a Master Author and researcher.

57 people found this helpful

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Yikes

What disappointed you about Mastery?

Yikes! I can appreciate the tenants behind the book, but having to retread whole sections of earlier passages (verbatim) made me feel like I was the $10 I spent on it. I can save you your money: 1.find a thing you love 2. Do the thing ( even if it gets hard) 3. Don't let others be a negative influence over you 4. Look to other people who did the thing you love ( famous or not ) to help spur you on to your goal of mastering the thing.

At the end of the book , Greene reiterates all the biographies that are spread throughout the book. Why? I've read them all before?! That was silly. I expected so much more.

47 people found this helpful

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Amazing

I changed my life because of this book. I was trough some depressing times but thanks to Mastery I became more productive.

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Must read

The books gives a big incentive to create. Moreover, reading this books definitely has a positive impact on the mood!
This is definitely one of my favorite books now.
Really enjoyed this audio version.

31 people found this helpful

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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

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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.

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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.

23 people found this helpful

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Common sense

What did you like best about Mastery? What did you like least?

The idea is common sense. Master something and you will do well. I like Robert Greene's 48 laws of power. Excellent story telling, entertaining and useful. However, mastery is somewhat similar. I did not think it was worth listening. Didn't finish until end and wish i could return for something I have not yet heard.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Adam
  • 06-30-13

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.

12 people found this helpful

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  • I. Reid-Knightley
  • 04-08-13

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.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Byron
  • 04-07-13

character building!

First of all I generally don't write reviews but in the case of this book I am making an exception! if you are like me and looked for this book on the recommendation of Elliot Hulse you will not be disappointed! it will get you on the way to becoming "the strongest version of yourself" the main problem i have with this audio-book is that Fred Sanders (i have never heard of him before is he famous in america?) voice get on my nerves but that's probably more of a personal thing! so all in all if you want a book for self improvement or even just to see what other peoples ideas on self improvement are! (like me) its worth ago right?

8 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 12-13-12

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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • FENG
  • 12-23-12

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.

6 people found this helpful

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  • david davidson
  • 04-29-16

Mostly nonsense

2 hrs of content stretched out to 16 hours. Not really sure of the point or practicality of it.

5 people found this helpful

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  • livvster
  • 07-26-15

Read this when you're 21!

Where does Mastery rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the best Audible books I've listened to

What other book might you compare Mastery to, and why?

It's unique researching high achievers that are not all well known and better for it.

What about Fred Sanders’s performance did you like?

His passion made me want to carry on listening

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

10,000 hours to Mastery

Any additional comments?

I loved this book. I particularly enjoyed learning about some of the lesser well know Masters and have been inspired to read and research some of their material. I have learned a great deal. I was left feeling this book should be read in your 20's and there was a sense that by 40 (as I am) it's a little too late!! Nonetheless it is a great read.

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  • Max
  • 07-26-14

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Petra
  • 03-14-14

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Rory
  • 04-04-13

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..

3 people found this helpful

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  • Tim Jones
  • 08-28-16

Some interesting ideas but lacking real substance

In this book, the author presents his pet theory as to what steps can be taken on the steps to 'mastery' by anyone who chooses to do so. These steps could probably have constituted an interesting magazine article or blog post, but are instead extensively illustrated by the lives of famous 'masters' (DiVinci, Franklin, Einstein, etc) none of whom appear to have consciously followed any set method to their own success.

The stories are sometimes interested though often repetitious as the author cherry picks different details from their lives and stories to illustrate his points. In the end though, we are left with a large number of absolute statements by the author that never really get backed up.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Erica Dibden
  • 05-18-15

This is a Masterpiece

For all of you out there struggling to find your life's purpose, this is the book for you.
I can clearly map out what I want, when I want it and more importantly why I want it.
This book is gold...

3 people found this helpful

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  • Rachel Wolf
  • 01-19-18

overall great read

Was in depth but felt very repetitive in uncovering the background stories of the lives of the people discussed within the book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sean James Finn
  • 01-02-15

Great

Repetition of stories for in well with the mantra of the book. However I didn't really think it was written well which was disjointed.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Terry
  • 10-27-16

Inspiring and insightful

Well written book with modern examples of masters in their field and their journey. Lots of gems to take away. Make sure you take notes!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Daniel
  • 04-26-20

Well formatted read!

Provides historic examples of masters , makes for easy absorbtion of info.

Highly recommend it.

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  • Paul Davies
  • 09-12-18

Genius vs Master

This book has proven to me that there is no such thing as natural born genius. It’s true that we all receive some talents, each of us has the potential for greatness through mastery.

I highly recommend the book. I will be reading it again and again.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-01-18

Mastery genius

Robert Greene is a talented wordsmith and has put together a great compilation of wisdom and knowledge in the topic of mastery. Another man to take many lessons from and wish to meet with someday to further the knowledge

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Simon
  • 05-28-18

Deep and thought provoking

It took me a little while to get into the book, but it was deep and thought provoking in a fascinating way. Well worth a listen

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  • Andrew Weekes
  • 04-03-18

Much of Value

I feel this book would be five stars with some editing or restructuring. Greene's perspectives on mastery go deeper than standard success habit writing. Linking mastery to social intelligence and primal desire to learn are a couple of fascinating concepts. There are extensive strategies for pursuing mastery with biographical examples demonstrating the concepts of mastery through anecdotal evidence. The book repeats these biographical examples more than once. This repetition doesn't add much to the book and makes key concepts more difficult to pull out rather than easier. A concise section on the strategies followed by another section on the biographical examples would be less repetitive, more usable and make the book at least an hour shorter. I have read all of Greene's books in one form or another though and can highly recommend this one.