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por Felicity James (2020-03-15)

Robert Greene's Mastery explores the lives of many historical Masters (Mozart, Da Vinci, Proust, etc.) and explains how their Mastery is attainable for everyone. By ignoring societal constraints and complications, following our own interests, serving time in an apprenticeship phase, and staying committed to our craft, Greene believes that everyone can become a Master and make lasting contributions to society.

While I like Greene's message and find his writing to be absorbing, I have some serious concerns about this book. First is the fact that Greene's conclusions stem from extremely shaky "evidence". There are practically no scientific studies cited in this book, and very rarely do Greene's interpretations involve any proof at all. Every piece of evidence that Greene presents to support his theory is anecdotal. Greene is not a scientist himself, and really gives no reason why we should believe his arguments. Throughout this book, I could not help but think that anybody could have come to Greene's conclusions and presented them as facts. So, why should we believe in what Greene has to say? Unfortunately, this book never provides an adequate answer. We are left to assume that what Greene tells us is true, because Robert Greene says so.

Another issue in this book is it's extremely repetitive nature. Every single section tells an anecdote about someone considered a Master in his or her field, and then Greene goes on to explain that this person is a Master only through hard work, something that everyone can achieve. This cycle occurs over and over and over and over and over and over, for 300 crammed pages and is truly exhausting. Even more disconcerting is how Greene will, within his repetitive structure, duplicate anecdotal sections. There are three sections throughout the book that discuss famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach, and each section tells the same exact anecdote. A fact may be added or the story might be expanded at the end, but the reality is that I ended up reading the same story three times (never has Roach been given such exposure in a book that has absolutely nothing to do with boxing). The effect is nearly maddening and forced me to skim over various sections, searching for new information.