48 Laws of Power - Robert Greene (The most popular book in the American Prison System)
This is one of those books that everybody should read... And I know that's been said a few times before.
As early as Law #1 'Never outshine the master'... You'll see mistakes you've made time and time again in your own life. Sometimes too, you'll see things that you do naturally, which goes to show how manipulation has somehow been hard-wired into our DNA.
The funny thing is too, by writing this post, I'm actually breaking Law #4 - 'Always say less than necessary'.
But Greene does tell us to invert the laws... Sometimes. It all depends what your ultimate goal is.
Humans are painted as flawed animals, struggling to fathom their surroundings. It's quite a perspective shift to look at ourselves as insecure and anxious primates who can be manipulated with surprising ease.
Ethically, there's quite a burden placed on the reader. Greene is very neutral in the way he presents the information - So you bring the moral judgement yourself.
You can choose to either apply the laws in your own life, or simply become wiser by knowing about them.
It's not a book that you'll want to sit down and read cover to cover though. I read it over 3 months or so... Taking in a chapter or two at a time, letting the ideas really sink in before moving to the next one.
This book gives the inside story on how some individuals can gain the upper hand in almost any social situation by understanding some key principles of psychology and human nature.
I'd say it's essential for anyone who manages people, or anyone who needs to win others round to their way of thinking... Probably that majority of us then.