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10 Best Books About Manipulation

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  • February 22, 2024
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  • 9 min read


In the world we navigate, the art of persuasion – or manipulation – plays a crucial role in understanding human behaviour and influencing decisions. Whether for personal growth, career advancement, or simply understanding societal dynamics, learning about manipulation can open your eyes to the subtleties of human interaction.

We are sharing a compilation of the 10 best books about the tactics, psychology, and ethics of manipulation. This selection offers valuable insights into persuasion techniques and marks an essential phase in the book writing journey for authors who explore these themes.

1. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

When discussing knowing how to make people agree with us, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” is the book that many people think of first. Robert Cialdini, the writer, is like a teacher showing us why people say “Yes” to things, and how you can use that knowledge the right way.

He tells us about the “six principles of persuasion.” That’s six ways that are good at convincing people to do stuff. Things like giving back when someone gives to you (that’s called “reciprocity”), wanting to have stuff that is hard to get (“scarcity”), and going along with what other people are doing (“social proof”).

Cialdini fills the book with stories and examples that make it easy to understand these big ideas. So you learn some clever ways to persuade people and find out how to stop others from tricking you into doing something you don’t want to do.

2. 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Now, here’s a book that’s a bit more tough—like a guide to being the boss of everybody. Robert Greene’s “48 Laws of Power” shows us how famous people in history did things that got them power, sometimes in pretty sneaky ways.

Some people think it’s kind of mean because it teaches you tricks like hiding your thoughts or using other people’s mistakes to help yourself. The book also says being too nice can make it easier for others to step on you. But others use this book to understand how power works to protect themselves from being pushed around.

Greene writes in a way that makes these old stories feel fresh and helpful for today. For anyone who wants to be cheeky and get ahead—in work, life, or just playing games—”48 Laws of Power” has become a must-read.

3. The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene

“The Art of Seduction” is a book by Robert Greene that isn’t just about romance; it’s also about how to win over people in all parts of life. Greene shows us that seduction is a game of psychology and that anyone can become good at it if they learn how.

In his book, Greene talks about different ‘seductive characters’ – these are like the different roles people can play to charm and capture someone else’s heart (or attention). There are stories from history where famous charmers like Cleopatra or Casanova turn on their charm and pull people in.

But why is this important? Well, Greene explains that seduction is really about power and control. When you’re good at seduction, people are drawn to you, listen to you, and want to be around you. It helps in love and when trying to convince someone to agree with you, like in a job interview or when selling something.

Greene has a way of writing that makes these old ideas sound cool and useful today.

4. The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli

When people hear the name Machiavelli, they often think of tricks and being sly in politics because “The Prince” is all about that. Machiavelli wrote it long ago, but people still read it today to understand the darker sides of power.

“The Prince” is like a handbook for rulers (or anyone who wants to be a leader) on how to hold onto power. It’s realistic and cold because Machiavelli tells leaders they can’t always be the good guy if they want to stay on top. Sometimes, they have to be a bit mean or tricky; sometimes, they even break their promises.

Interestingly, even though this book is so old (it was written in 1513), its lessons still help folks today. “The Prince” teaches people to read between the lines. Notice what’s not being said, and see the real reasons behind big decisions.

For those interested in the nitty-gritty of power plays, the cutthroat world of politics, or just wanting to be smarter about how leaders lead, “The Prince” is still one of the top reads.

5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

“Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a treasure chest of golden rules for getting along with others and is the top suggested book by the Book Writing Founders. This book isn’t about tricks or schemes to make people do what they want. Instead, it’s filled with advice on how to genuinely connect with people in positive and respectful ways.

Carnegie shares ideas like remembering to smile, how important a person’s name is, and the power of listening. He tells stories about why being nice, showing interest in others, and making people feel important can open doors for you that you didn’t even know existed.

For anyone who feels a bit lost on how to navigate social situations, this book will surely help you.

6. Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini

In “Pre-Suasion,” Robert Cialdini takes us further into the influence world by highlighting that setting up a message can be as important as the message itself. Think of it like planting seeds in someone’s mind before you even start your main argument.

Cialdini introduces us to the concept of “pre-suasion,” which is all about grabbing people’s attention in the right way to make them more open to what you’ll say next. He uses a lot of research and examples to show how timing, setting, and even the words we choose can make a huge difference in persuading others.

What’s cool about this book is that it teaches us to be more mindful of the small things that can greatly impact our ability to convince and persuade. For anyone who knows a bit about persuasion and wants to dive deeper into the science of effectively preparing someone to be more receptive, “Pre-Suasion” is fascinating.

7. What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People by Joe Navarro

Joe Navarro’s book, “What Every BODY is Saying,” reminds us that communication isn’t only about what we say with our words. How our body moves and reacts – our body language – tells its story. And this can strongly influence and manipulate how people perceive us.

As an ex-FBI agent, Navarro knows a thing or two about reading people. He explains how to spot nervousness, confidence, happiness, and even when someone might not be telling the truth. And you can do all this by watching how they stand, where they look, and what they do with their hands.

If you’ve ever wished you could tell what someone else is thinking or feeling, this book can lend you a helping hand. It teaches you to read some unspoken signals we all send out. It even tells how you can control your body language to send the right signals to others.

8. Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff

Getting someone’s attention and persuading them to say yes, especially in business, can be tricky. Klaff’s book, “Pitch Anything,” offers a helpful roadmap for navigating this challenge. This will help you present your ideas in ways most likely win over the listener. Informative content writing often highlights useful techniques for effective persuasion and communication, making this book a significant resource.

Klaff uses the STRONG method – Setting the Frame, Telling the Story, Revealing the Intrigue, Offering the Prize, Nailing the Hookpoint, and Getting a Decision. The technique is designed to hold someone’s attention and lead them to the decision you want: the ‘yes’ you need for your big idea, project, or deal.

9. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss

This book, “Never Split the Difference,” is written by a man who was once a top negotiator at the FBI. Chris Voss takes what he learned from stressful hostage situations and applies it to everyday life to help you become a master at negotiating.

Voss explains that a good negotiation is more than just trying to get what you want. It’s about understanding what the other person needs, controlling your emotions, and making people comfortable so they listen to you. It’s also packed with plenty of real-life stories where he successfully negotiated in high-stakes situations.

10. Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

“Nudge” is a book about how we make choices and how we can make better ones. Authors Thaler and Sunstein show us that it’s not always the big arguments that persuade us. Instead, the small ‘nudges’ tip us towards a decision without us even knowing it.

The writers talk about how our decisions can be influenced by how options are presented to us. It is also influenced by how people can use that to guide us towards choices they’d like us to make. Sometimes, we can be nudged into making certain decisions without realizing it.



Understanding manipulation isn’t about exploiting others unethically. Instead, these books offer insights into the human psyche. It also provides tools for better communication, self-improvement, and understanding of power dynamics in social settings.

Whether you’re a novice in psychological concepts or seeking to advance your knowledge, this collection lays the groundwork for mastering the art of ethical manipulation. This will transform the way you interact with the world around you. Authors often delve into such profound psychological principles in the book writing scope.

With a grasp of the methods highlighted here, one’s writing Scope significantly broadens. This allows for crafting characters with complex motivations, making stories more richly textured and engaging.

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