THE PRINCESSA: Machiavelli for Women by Harriet Rubin

THE PRINCESSA: Machiavelli for Women

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Rubin, who heads a business publishing imprint, tackles the subject of powerful women. Using a couple of numbered lists, a New Age concept or two, and the poetry of Anna Akhmatova, Rubin attempts to explain to women the notion that power struggles are best solved by not struggling. In the business world, she writes, women are better served by appearing to yield to opposition, deferring to others, and subtly taking control of the situation. Much of the advice is common sense: Try to see the issue from the opposition's point of view; don't exact revenge; create a network of support. Rubin also gives many real-life examples of how women, ranging from George Eliot to Golda Melt, gained power by gracefully overcoming their enemies. Ahimsa, a Gandhian principle that advocates returning hate with love, is another technique Rubin recommends for the boardroom. Other tactics are a bit questionable, particularly Rubin's advice to women to cry if they must: It's a rare business person who would say that tears in the office are a sign of strength, and crying hardly engenders respect. A few business scenarios are offered and analyzed for their power structure, but apply mainly to women fairly far up in the corporate hierarchy--there's little here for the receptionist trying to make good. This is a fairly interesting idea turned into a trifle of a book; the examples are uniformly vague, though Rubin's advice is well-meaning. Women truly interested in the pursuit and acquisition of power will want to seek the original Prince.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0440508320
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Doubleday