Book Review

What would Machiavelli Do?
The ends justify the meanness

Stanley Bing
Harper Business, 2000, 148 pp.


This is a very entertaining and amusing book, written by someone intimately familiar with that most vile of mutant subhuman, slime-ridden refuse of our homicidal, self-deluded species, the corporate manager. The message is clear: you too, can become one.

Each of the 45 short chapters is dripping with sarcasm about how managers treat their employees and each other as they claw their way to the top, starting with a humorous quote from famous great managers from history like Pol Pot, Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Linda Wachner. These four witty guys (okay, maybe not the last one) got to where they are today by being utterly and mercilessly manipulative, and because the only thing they cared less about than the truth was the people around them. This is the formula for success not only in today's business world, but in academia and government as well. (In government labs, the corresponding term for "subhuman, slime-ridden refuse" is "lab chief".)

Here are some examples:

On your destiny:

To create an entire belief system built on this incredibly thin platform [believing you having a destiny], you're going to need to start deluding yourself. A lot of guys are way ahead of you, so you'd better hurry up.
On the desire for big power:
Complete the following statements: ... I believe other people ... (a) should do what I want them to do; (b) should fall down and kiss my feet; (c) should lie down in my path, so I can walk on them; (d) There are other people?
The correct answer, of course, for the true Machiavellian, is (d).

How do you get people to do what you want? You manipulate them, of course. The book describes, step by step, how to "set them at one another. And watch them rip out one another's throats in an effort to please you better". The author's keen perceptions in this inspired, extremely short book of how managers manipulate people and invent the truth to achieve their ambitions of wealth and glory, will produce smiles of recognition among the rest of us, the real people everywhere who just don't want power badly enough to do what Machiavelli would do to get it.