Apr 16

Book Review: The Princessa

The Princessa : Machiavelli for WomenThe Princessa : Machiavelli for Women by Harriet Rubin

This was recommended to me by a friend of a friend, and since it was short and easy to read, I put it to the top of my reading queue. It’s a philosophy book, sort of, and a how-to book, sort of, and a self-help book, sort of.

I haven’t ever read _Il Princip_ by Machiavelli, though of course I’ve heard it referred to. This book seeks to provide a feminine counterpoint to that. Machiavelli says basically that you have to be cruel, that nice guys finish last, that it’s better to be feared than loved, etc. This book says that love is your (you being the female reader) greatest weapon, that you shouldn’t try to diminish other people, but bond with them and then make them better than they were.

On one hand, Rubin has some interesting ideas that make a lot of sense. I like the idea that you don’t win by playing the game, you win by subverting the rules of the game so that you get what you want without making anyone lose. If you’re philosophically minded, I can see why you might like to keep this book around and reread it for insight.

The thing is, if I believed everything she said, I this would be an awesome guidebook for life. But I don’t believe everything she says. Some of the role models she holds up as being paragons are ones that I don’t necessarily admire (Ayn Rand, eg.) Others she criticizes for being flawed, when I don’t see their decisions as flaws (Hilary Clinton, eg.) I just don’t trust her ideas to work. Also, it waxed a little poetic (ie. incomprehensible) on occasion.

That said, it wasn’t unreadable, and best of all, it was a diversion from my normal reading fare, so for that reason I found it interesting.

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