Skip to main content

BOOK REVIEW: The 50th Law of Power: Fear Nothing By Robert Greene and 50 Cent. Reviewed by Afrah Jamal.

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / 8 May 2010 under the heading, LEARNING FROM THE 50's

It is blue and gold and it is all about you — the present day ‘you’, planning a rendezvous with destiny, flanked by fear and unhappy at the prospect of rocking that nice boat. This version of you tiptoeing around people’s feelings (sweet), working up the courage to do ‘something grand’ and looking aggrieved at having missed that turning to ‘greatness’ yet again, can use some perspective.

The 50th Law of Power: Fear Nothing is a one on one session with 50 Cent and Robert Greene, designed to give everyone a shot at a life unencumbered by the fear we were just talking about. 50 Cent is a former hustler, present rapper from the hood. Robert Greene has authored books like 33 Strategies of War, 48 Laws of Power, etc.

Robert Greene you get. But 50 Cent!

Their wildly different backgrounds — one roamed the mean streets of Southside Queens, the other walked the mean corridors of power — similar experiences and combined perspectives are used to provide an accurate read of one’s inner fears. This fear manifests itself in a hundred different ways and in all its manifestations has the same debilitating effect.

While Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) models the 50th law, Robert Greene provides actionable intelligence useful in isolating fear from the complex forces that govern our lives and avail the fast narrowing window of opportunity that comes by once in a while.

The 50th Law of Power is a fascinating study into the ways of the world to give those vying for a good place a sporting chance at success. Greene runs down familiar scenarios singling out “common foes” with advice on how to defend or advance, takes apart daily encounters for telltale signs of fear and does a forensic analysis on the people we meet. He also identifies the 50th law practitioners through their “supreme boldness, unconventionality, fluidity and sense of urgency”. The darkness from 50 Cent’s repertoire of moves serves to illuminate the path to fearlessness. Together, they tap into our warped view of the world that stands in the way of all that can be accomplished and cannot be, a world where every second a victim is claimed by fear, rational or irrational; a world just waiting to be conquered. Both men have done a cold appraisal of the surroundings to create a revised dictionary of rules and regulations to match the slick new reality.

Greene’s sketches of classic fearless types who fashioned a new way from the remains of the broken yellow brick road provide the foundation for his case. He suggests using the “Fearless Approach” to reprogramme natural impulses and adapt. “Fearless types,” he reflects, “have often had to face a lot of hostility in their lives and they invariably discover the critical role that one’s attitude plays in thwarting people’s aggression” (page 129). He goes on to add that “...when you submit in spirit to an aggressor or to an unjust and impossible situation, you do not buy yourself any real peace...you encourage people to go further...they sense your lack of respect and feel justified in mistreating you.” He also notes, “If they sense that you are the type of person who accepts and submits, they will push and push till they have established an exploitative relationship with you” (page 131). “By a paradoxical law of human nature,” he continues, “trying to please people less is more likely to earn their respect in the long run.”

He rifles through the past to show that the fearless types in history inevitably display a higher tolerance for repetitive, boring tasks and that ‘aha’ moment is preceded by an intense learning process. For instance, the forced isolation brought on by London plague that led Newton away from Cambridge also led him towards his destiny (page 214).

“Keys to Fearlessness” reveal the guiding principles to abide by if one is to master the art of living fearlessly. “Reversal of Perspectives” flips classical interpretations of terms like opportunist, egotism, etc, on their head (page 45). It declares dreamers to be “sources of greatest mistakes”, showing realists to be inventors, innovators with an imagination, attuned to the environment, who make capable guides in hard times.

Featured here are the people who, instead of surrendering to their fate, discarded the assigned post of victims and came out as victors. Some went ahead to take on bigger roles of visionaries (Edison), leaders (Napoleon), and abolitionists/writers (Fredrick Douglass).

The book promises that bringing a 50 Cent style street savvy to survive works not only in the corporate world but it can also be used to thrive in any environment. But walking in 50 Cent’s shoes can be uncomfortable. The hood is hardwired with explosive situations and can go off any instant. That explains the jaded tone of the book. 50 Cent’s philosophy was to outlast, outwit, outplay. Lack of scruples, a fair amount of guile and aggression may have been a part of the game, but their presence can be disconcerting in a ‘civilised’ world. Yet, the laws, in their toned down form are sound in essence even if their origins are, well, less so. Choosing to follow the 50th law can be liberating. All it asks is for you to take back the rights to your own life story, where fear has a recurring role, and explore some alternative endings.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Book of Davis - Reading between the lines

Published by Global Affairs / Aug 2017

Raymond Davis is a champ. A team player, who puts the needs of his comrades in arms before himself. He is savvy. He is a man of integrity - a survivor - a trooper. Ray, the epitome of courage runs headlong towards danger and into a minefield - literally. He is all this and more. This is his story after all.

6 years ago, he was a trained Special Forces SF, undercover ‘contractor’, forced to navigate the cramped alleyways of Lahore on a routine mission – the details of which remain a mystery. His book ‘The Contractor: How I Landed in a Pakistani Prison and Ignited a Diplomatic Crisis’ with Storms Reback, revisits the scene of the crime to solidify his innocence and along the way take a few potshots at random players who helped secure his release. It’s a hair-raising ride.

His style is conversational, his demeanor - amiable. The case is still fresh in people’s minds and his intent to set the record straight ignites yet another round of controversy…

OPED: Keeping the Truth & Reconciliation Train on Track in Pakistan & Bangladesh

Published by Global Affairs / June 2017

It is no secret that Pakistan’s Eastern Wing broke away or that India helped carve Bangladesh in 1971. There were weaknesses to be exploited and deep seated resentments that left sizeable fissures in between Pakistan’s East and West wing. The Indian PM Modi can now tip his hat to 1,661 Indian soldiers allied with an armed resistance – the dreaded Mukti Bahini without fear of reprisal. Of late, there have been whispers about a KGB element in the mix. But the past is over and done with. Or is it?

There was madness and mayhem and civil unrest. Both sides suffered. The figure of three million offered by Bangladesh however has been widely disputed. While there has been a lot of water under the bridge since 1971- there has not been any serious attempt at breaching the divide. But most Pakistanis have not whitewashed their history and acknowledge their errors in judgment and lack of political foresight that led to the debacle.

‘The wall between Bangl…

BOOK REVIEW: Hira Mandi / Author: Claudine Le Tourneur Dlson

Published in Daily Times Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reproduced on Claudine Le Tourneur Dlson's Website

Translated from French by Priyanka Jhijaria

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

A programme about Hira Mandi did the internet rounds a couple of years ago. It claimed, among other things, that the sons of the ‘dancers’ reportedly end up as lawyers, doctors, artists — a few join politics and some even reach the military. These outrageous statistics may be one of the reasons the documentary was banned from the mainstream media. That and its primary premise — the plight of the fallen women — would prompt the conservatives to howl with dismay before scurrying off to bury any evidence in the backyard along with other bodies.


Claudine Le Tourneur d’Ison embeds such wrenching moments in a bold narrative where its doomed protagonist can hail the brave new world and its genteel patrons from an extraordinary vantage point. The expedition to the underworld with the unfortunate progeny and the hapless…

VIEW: WOMEN in the PAF: AN ENSEMBLE CAST

PUBLISHED in HILAL (Pakistan Armed Forces Magazine) Feb 2010

By Afrah Jamal

Progressive - Conservative - Contemporary - Professional; separately these terms could apply to any service; together they were reserved for just one - the PAF.

Pakistan Air Force has kept in touch with its roots through its glorious traditions and kept up with the changing times with innovative thinking. Oftentimes, traditions that made it stand apart have also stood in the way of, well - progress. Consequently, the service nimbly skipped past the one proposed change that was going to have a profound effect on the lives of countless young girls and would forever alter the way society perceived their womenfolk.

Before 1994, Lady Officers were a rare sight in the PAF. So rare in fact, that when male cadets donned wigs to represent the female species in annual variety shows, nobody wondered why. By 2010, women have become an indispensable part of the service. While, PAF was no stranger to a woman in uniform, a f…

OPED: Radd-ul-Fassad – An Urgent Revision in the Wake of Mashal Khan's Lynching

Published Global Affairs / June 2017

Written in the immediate aftermath of Mashal Khan's lynching

On December 2014, 148 people, mostly school kids were murdered by terrorists in the APS (Army Public School) school massacre. In April 2017, a university student was lynched in Mardan. One tragedy marked a turning point. Another opens a Pandora’s Box.

APS happened while Operation Zarb-e-Azb was underway. It shook the nation to its very core; and pushed the armed forces to expand the scope of its offensives. Military courts were set up in the aftermath. A death row inmate (Qadri), once lauded by clergy and lawyers for killing a Governor, was finally executed along with scores of militants.

And soon another operation would come into effect after shrines, rallies and public places were targeted in a resurgence of terror in 2017. If the first was driven by vengeance, the second came from desperation. Pakistan’s survival was at stake – unless it tackled the darkness head on. But the dark…

BOOK REVIEW: Pakistan: Beyond The ‘Crisis State’ / Author: Maleeha Lodhi

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Published under the title: 17 Reasons to Hope

“History will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, history will have its revenge and retribution”— from the movie, ‘Good Night, & Good Luck’

A region known for most “terrorist sightings”, a place feared for harbouring medieval mindsets next to progressive thinkers and a nation shunned for having an affinity for nuclear toys. By turns a cautionary tale, an indispensable ally and an international pariah, Pakistan does not fit into any mould — for long. But its name crops up whenever things go awry.

Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ is a compilation of articles put together by Maleeha Lodhi that countermands the grim prognosis. When Ms Lodhi, who has served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and UK, acknowledges that “resilience has been part of Pakistan’s story from its inception, obscured by the single issue lens…

BOOK REVIEW: Operation Geronimo – the Betrayal and Execution of Osama Bin Laden and its Aftermath

Published in Daily Times (Pakistan) / 27 April 2013
Author: Shaukat Qadir
Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal



Book Cover Courtesy: Link

The insider account by a former SEAL later used to prop up the raid sequence of ‘Zero Dark Thirty fills in the dramatic details but a change in vantage point zooms in on the Pakistani equation. In less than a 100 pages, the author proceeds to tie up loose ends leftover from the reams of official spin surrounding the events of May 1 2011.

He is a retired infantry Brigadier from Pakistan Army who uses his unprecedented access to the corridors of military power to launch an independent inquiry into the incident. His research takes in isolated facts, hidden motives and shadowy agendas to create an alternate timeline of events. They correspond with the main outlines of the sanctioned version but differ in the approach. The resultant document builds an appealing profile that demands a second look at the so called ‘mansion’ in Abbottabad and the dead man walking within…