Last Updated on July 9, 2020
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Influencing others to do your bidding is not an easy task. It can actually be something of an art. Manipulation has a bad rep, but when you need to get something to go your way, sometimes there isn’t any other way around it.
If you are looking to do some research on the subject, you are in the right place! We’ll be discussing the 15 best books on manipulation. You’ll not only learn what manipulation is and how to develop this skill, but also psychological tricks and other tidbits of valuable information.
This list also focuses on the opposite concept: how to avoid manipulation and keep people who might be trying to trick you out of your life. It’s up to the reader to decide how they’ll use the information provided.
1. The 48 Laws of Power (By Robert Greene)
Author Robert Greene takes a look at history’s worse manipulators and most powerful leaders and extracts the 48 laws of power following their example. It’s a fascinating look at the psychology dictators, philosophers, and influencers used in order to sway the public to follow the path they set for them.
Review: What’s interesting about The 48 laws of power is that it doesn’t analyze the intrinsic goodness or evil of these rules. It merely lays them out for the reader to interpret. That being said, it has been criticized for being amoral and offering dangerous tools to people who might be all too keen on manipulating others for nefarious purposes.
- Author: Robert Greene is a celebrated author who was featured many times in the New York Times bestsellers list. He specializes in historical and psychological genres.
- Pages: 452
- Publisher: Penguin Books (September 1, 2000)
2. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (By Robert B. Cialdini)
Robert Cialdini, Influence’s author, analyzes the six major tools used by manipulators to influence their victims. It’s a fascinating look into the human mind and how easily people’s opinions can be swayed with the right mechanisms. This book will both teach its readers how to influence and manipulate others, and how to avoid falling for these -all too common- techniques.
Review: Influence analyzes quite analytically the methods of manipulation and how to avoid them. It can also be easily used to persuade others, so it’s a bit of a two-edged sword. It does seem to stand by the customer’s side in a world of mega-corporations that keep using tricks to mess with their perception of reality. Cialdini attempts to provide buyers with the tools to identify if they are being outwitted and how to avoid these traps.
- Author: Robert Cialdini is both a professor of marketing and psychology. He also presides Influence At Work, a training center that focuses on companies using influence in an ethical way.
- Pages: 336
- Publisher: Harper Business (December 26, 2006)
3. The prince (By Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli)
There is a reason why classics have been read and reread by generation after generation. Though this book was written hundreds of years ago, it’s still as valid and useful advice as it was when it was first penned. What is at first disguised as a praise to the Medicis was, in reality, a thinly-veiled attack on their practices of manipulation.
Review: Macchiaveli wrote a masterpiece back in the 16th century, and it remains a classic even after all these centuries. It’s a book everyone should have in their library and review from time to time if only to be reminded of the dangers of allowing ruthless leaders to rule with iron fists. Manipulation is a powerful tool and those in power should be careful when using it with the public.
- Author: Niccolo Machiavelli was an Italian author who was exiled from his native Florence by the ruling Medici family. He was also a diplomat, politician, philosopher and poet, a true renaissance man.
- Pages: 164
- Publisher: Antonio Blado d’Asola (1532)
4. The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence (by Gavin De Becker)
The Gift of Fear is a fascinating read that helps its reader understand the many psychological tricks manipulators use to sway their audience’s opinions. There are many ways of exploiting a person’s fears, and it’s a powerful tool to get these citizens to do exactly what their leader wants them to. In order to be truly free, it’s important to identify these mind games and learn how to outplay them.
Review: The gift of fear is certainly a fascinating read, but some of its readers might be disappointed that it seems to rely too heavily on the concept of intuition. People with a rational view of the world might feel this concept doesn’t have solid scientifical ground. That being said, it’s a book that can offer victims of manipulation a powerful tool to avoid falling for the same old tricks.
- Author: Gavin de Becker is a security expert that protects celebrities from stalkers and obsessed fans as a living. He knows how fear can lead people to take desperate measures, and authored several books on the matter.
- Pages: 334
- Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company (June 1, 1997)
5. The Art of Seduction (By Robert Greene)
Robert Greene makes another appearance on our list. It’s not a surprise since he is one of the most well-renowned experts on this subject. In The art of seduction, Greene describes the 9 types of seduction and guides you to discover what is the style that would work better for you. It’s a book that pushes the reader to rebuild themselves and become self-sufficient.
Review: The art of seduction is a fascinating study in human behavior. People who are looking for a moral, however, will be disappointed, as this book offers none. It’s a book aimed to reinvent yourself in order to easily seduce and manipulate others, or at least comprehend how this is achieved in other people and avoid it from happening to you.
- Author: Robert Greene is a celebrated author who was featured many times in the New York Times bestsellers list. He specializes in historical and psychological genres. He claims to have used the techniques featured in this book to seduce his girlfriend.
- Pages: 468
- Publisher: Profile book (2001)
6. In Sheep’s Clothing (By George Simon)
In Sheep’s clothing is a book aimed to understand manipulative people and how to avoid falling for their tricks. The author, George Simon, is highly critical of manipulators and exposes their most usual techniques. He describes them as people who try to get benefits for themselves with complete disregard of the consequences their behavior will have on other people.
Review: This book is clearly well-researched, and written in an interesting and appealing style. It can come across as judgmental, so it might not be the best book to browse through if you consider yourself a manipulation advocate. It’s a great tool to identify manipulative behaviors and develop the ability to avoid these techniques.
- Author: George Simon is a public speaker, author and character developer coach. Simon backs up his research with his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Texas Tech University. He believes people can grow and enhance their best traits. Simon helps victims of manipulators become empowered and leave the past behind.
- Pages: 176
- Publisher: Parkhurst Brothers Publishers Inc (April 1, 2010)
7. Manipulation (By Edward Benedict)
Manipulation is a book entirely focused on how to obtain your goals in life through dark psychology, mind control, and twisted persuasion.
It provides the reader with techniques to use on their victims, such as behavioral modification, feedback, and many others. The author does describe both positive and negative ways of manipulation and provides tools for both.
Review: Manipulation is a fascinating read, but can come across as superficial and all too short. It might have benefitted from a more in-depth analysis of the subject at hand. It provides the reader with useful and interesting information, but in the end, it feels like it was cut too short.
- Author: Edward Benedict is a man fascinated by the human mind and the effect people’s actions have on others. He has written several books on the subject of manipulation and psychology.
- Pages: 50
- Publisher: Independently published (February 13, 2019)
8. The Psychopath Whisperer (By Kent A. Kiehl)
The Psychopath whisperer is both a deeply entertaining and creepily informative at the same time. It allows the reader to obtain the tools to comprehend psychopathic behavior. It also provides tools to help the public protect themselves from manipulative people. This book can also aid readers better comprehend their own actions and improve their lives.
Review: The book’s author is clearly very knowledgeable on the subject, and he takes a deep dive into a complex issue. That being said, Kiehl tends to be too self-referential and includes too many of his own feelings and opinions even when they don’t add anything of substance to the book.
- Author: Dr. Kent Kiehl is a professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Law. He has been featured in over 100 scientific articles and participates in a project to better comprehend mental illness through the use of MRI images.
- Pages: 304
- Publisher: Crown (January 1, 2014)
9. Propaganda (By Edward Bernays)
Propaganda, by Edward Bernays, is a fascinating book that takes a look at the tools used to manipulate not just a single person or even a group of people, but entire masses! It analyzes how propaganda can be used to create social change, lobby for or against certain issues and even influence politics. As such, propaganda can be used both for good or evil. Either way, it’s vital to comprehend how these techniques work and be aware of its effects on the general public.
Review: Talk about a classic! Edward Bernays is considered the father of public relations, and this book puts his genius on full display. This book applies to today’s society just as much as it did back in 1928.
- Author: Edward Bernays is one of the pioneers that invented modern public relations, and was named as one of the 100 most influential Americans in the 20th Century. Several documentaries have been filmed about him, and he remains one of the men who influenced many of the ads and public relations techniques we use nowadays.
- Pages: 175
- Publisher: (1928)
10. A gold digger guide (By Baje Fletcher)
A gold digger guide is, at its core, a self-help book. It explains how to present yourself to properly manipulate men into helping you obtain your goals. At the same time, it also attempts to inspire women to develop their confidence, by obtaining what they want, never losing sight of their dreams. It’s a morally ambiguous book that might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Review: This book might initially come across as incredibly vain and superficial, but it’s a surprisingly clever and fascinating read. It explains that without confidence and healthy self-worth, a woman is not fully complete. It’s a surprisingly empowering book. That being said, it’s still intrinsically a book about how to manipulate men to obtain what you desire, so it’s far from a politically correct read.
- Author: Baje Fletcher is an author and entrepreneur who has shared her experiences in the Hollywood business on several interviews and his first book, A gold digger guide. He is an influencer and social media personality.
- Pages: 256
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (February 21, 2014)
Manipulation is a complicated science, and it can lead to great harm when used for the wrong reasons. It’s important to comprehend how it works and what tools people utilize when trying to influence others through deceit, as it allows the general public to avoid falling for such tricks.
That being said, sometimes the ends truly justify the means, and you find yourself in a position where you actually need to use this skill.
There are different techniques and opinions on the matter. You need to decide which works better for you, and learn how to protect yourself from these traps.
Use this knowledge wisely! You have the tools now to avoid becoming a victim, and we hope you also avoid victimizing others in your quest for knowledge.
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