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How to Use Your Enemies

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,086 ratings  ·  135 reviews
'Better mad with the crowd than sane all alone'

In these witty, Machiavellian aphorisms, unlikely Spanish priest Baltasar Gracián shows us how to exploit friends and enemies alike to thrive in a world of deception and illusion.

Introducing Little Black Classics: 80 books for Penguin's 80th birthday. Little Black Classics celebrate the huge range and diversity of Penguin Cl
Paperback, Little Black Classics #12, 54 pages
Published February 26th 2015 by Penguin Classics
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Sean Barrs
I’ve got a new name for this book.

I call it “How to be a conniving ass and manipulate people” by Baltasar Gracian.

Does it sound like something you’d want to read? This was just so damn cold. I’d sooner listen to advice from my cat than this snake. This guy gives advice on how to use your friends, how to twist your friendships for personal profit, and how to be fake to the point of complete falsehood. What happened to just being yourself? What happened to individualism? Who cares how you “should
"What's said well, is said quickly."
- Baltasar Gracián


Vol 11 of my Penguin Little Black Classics Box Set. Reminds me of: Machiavelli's The Prince + Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People + Greene's The 48 Laws of Power48 Laws of Power, all mixed together by a Spanish Jesuit. How to Use Your Enemies takes pieces from Gracian's Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia (1647), often translated to 'The Art of Worldly Wisdom, or 'The Pocket Oracle and Art of Prudence'. I actually really enjoye
Jane (It'sJaneLindsey)
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
I feel like all newly sorted Slytherins should receive a copy of this. Brilliant advice from a 17th century Spanish priest, full of wit with a dash of humor.
Michelle Curie
Apr 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
Ever wondered how to be into a manipulative and calculating asshole? If so, this is just the book for you. It's probably the nastiest piece of advice I've ever received. In How to Use Your Enemies a seventeenth-century Spanish priest sheds some light on using guile and pragmatism to succeed in a dangerous world.

To be fair, Gracián's writing is still applicable today, which is surprising considering how it was written hundreds of years ago and society has definitely gone through a lot of changes
Mar 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Jesus exhorted his disciples to be as harmless as doves but as wise as snakes. Spanish Jesuit priest Baltasar Gracian (1601-1658) followed this teaching to the letter. A theologian known for his rousing sermons (including his coup-de-theatre - reading out a "letter from Hell), he was also the author of "El Discreto" (or "The Complete Gentleman") and "The Pocket Oracle", a collection of witty and wily maxims meant to help the reader achieve success in a perilous, less-than-perfect society. Brilli ...more
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This is more than a guide on How to Use Your Enemies, it is at the same time a guide on How to Use Your Friends (considering you have some left after behaving like the author suggested). It was so manipulative that it was actually an awkward read for me.

It is compared to Machiavelli, and while his ideas are also very calculated, they made more sense to me as they all help to reach a certain goal. They are harsh and cold, and don't tran
Ruxandra Gîdei
The fact that this was written in 1647 simply blows my mind. It might also be the translation, but this book feels incredibly current! I mean, it's definitely not the kind of wisdom one would expect from a 17th century Jesuit priest - however, success is amoral and it implies deception, reticence and manipulation, so do brace yourself for some cold hard truths.
Still, it's really weird that he would write such a book for publication, sharing so much of what he had learned: "It's neither useful no
Liz Janet
Dec 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
I am not a huge fan of Machiavelli, his views seemed skewed to me, but at least he was trying to understand politics. This guy is an evil version of Machiavelli. I mean Machiavelli can be considered an upfront guy when compared to Baltasar. “Don’t wish friends too much good fortune, if you don’t want to lose them,” is a thing he actually wrote. He also brings forth that people that might try to help you, are basically just stupid for doing so. I am never reading any of his works, I do not want t ...more
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: penguin-classics
"You are as much as you know, and a wise person can do anything. A person without knowledge is a world in darkness."

"Some never manage to be complete; something is always missing."

These little excerpts of Baltasar Gracián works were written in the 17 century but funnily, they are still relatable and often times quite true.

He talks about how to behave in order to be successful, to behave in front of superiors (e.g. bosses) and how to behave with enemies.

I met a lot of people in higher positions
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
This is a book to dip into when looking for some inspiration, not something to pick up and devour. It put me in mind of those god-awful motivational pictures which adorn the walls of corporations, someone's idea of a way to live life, get on with people and behave. Yawn.

Not my cup of tea.
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
This little collection of aphorisms really does reflect its title. How to Use Your Enemies gives us advice on how to go far in life by manipulating and using others, whether superior to you or otherwise. Interestingly, Gracián explains how not only to use your enemies, but also your friends. It's incredibly calculating, and surprising in places, particularly for being written by a man of the cloth.

I found it both easy and difficult to relate to all at once. Having spent the last few years of my
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is not about using your enemies. It is mostly a collection of advice on life. For example:

"You are as much as you know, and a wise person can do anything. A person without knowledge is a world in darkness."

"Spend the first part of a fine life in communication with the dead. We are born to know and to know ourselves, and books reliably turn us into people."

Some parts offer ways of manipulating people but to those who disliked the book because of it I would advise to use this informatio
M.D. Laird
May 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is a stunning read; it's witty, engaging and littered with beautiful, and often calculating, quotes. It's also, amusingly, littered with contradictions: on one hand, it's a guide for any budding psychopath and on the other, a set of morals and principles. I would be keen to read another translation and, at some point, the whole text as it does seem to be quite modern and not in keeping with 17th century prose. That said, it's a beautiful piece of work.
Marianne Moresco
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Well.. what a fine, useful book.
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
So far, my favourite from the collection.

After a small detour from "binge reading" these small classics, this was certainly a good comeback.
Delivered in small paragraphs, Gracián is direct and concise on his views.
One may not agree with some of his passages but throughout the book the author's wisdom and bluntness are consistent, making it easy to try to understand the author's views that are not so agreeable.

Gracián was one of the greatest influences of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, this is very
Mar 15, 2015 rated it liked it
I haven't read Machiavelli yet, but I expect it's a bit like this: centuries-old advice on scheming that's now of limited use to the lives most of us live. It does contain some nuggets though, like:

Half the world is laughing at the other half, and all are fools. Either everything is good or everything bad, depending on people's opinions. What one pursues, another flees. Whoever wants to make their own opinion the measure of all things is an insufferable fool.

Grant something as a favour before it
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, classics
This can be read as an informal handbook of leading a fulfilling life. I was surprised constantly and thoroughly enjoyed it cover to cover.

You may not find yourself agreeing all the time, but it's very fun and quotable.

Nihal Vrana
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A self-help book from 5 centuries ago when the stakes were much higher (You can live without a promotion, but in the King's court rub a prince the wrong way.... execution!).
It should be a must-read in schools in "Game of Thrones" World. It can decrease the dead toll considerably.
Jie Mauricio
Oct 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Machiavellian theme 😂😅🤣
Joey Woolfardis
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Baltasar Gracián was a 17th Century Spanish priest who wrote proto-existentialist philosophical essays and prose. This collection contains a selection of aphorisms that are akin to the Italian Machiavellian The Prince, offering advice on how to exploit your friends, your enemies, your talents and other people's flaws.

The advice in this little black book is something that hasn't changed at all since it was written, and all of it is still as relevant today as it was then. It is full of contradicti
David MacIver
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a surprisingly lovely little book. I bought it on a whim because it was £1 on Amazon Prime. While it's definitely not even the best book I've read recently, it wins by miles on a value : cost ratio!

It's full of lots of little self-contained chunks of advice about how to conduct yourself in society in a way that achieves your aims without compromising your virtues. Despite being written by a 17th century Spanish priest, it's surprisingly applicable. Most of the advice is good, and while
I loved this. I was expecting a very Machiavellian book, but it definitely was not. I felt he had incredible psychological insight for the time period and it was an interesting look at the kind of books that time period would read. I loved what he had to say about friends, jobs, and emotional sensitivity.
"The wise cannot be identified by what they say in public, since they never speak there with their own voice."
"you need a friend of sufficient influence over you to be able to advice and admonis
B Wood
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Despite the odd contradiction here and there this little compilation contains some interesting advice for the would-be tactician. Try out a little of this advice in the workplace and you will notice something strange starts to happen!
Pam (Who Cried Books)
The two things that came to mind when I saw the title of this book are war and politics; like this book was written to give advice to people gearing up for war against other people (or country/ies lol). But I'm glad that almost everything written here can still be applicable if I consider life and/or society as my enemy/ies. Here are some of my favorite entries from the book:

"Advice should be offered as if a reminder of what they've forgotten, not an insight that they've never had."

"Whoever wan
Neelam Babul
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this book because the title seemed intriguing. It was a nice read with strategies on how you can win over your enemies. Some strategies are useful to apply in life, both personally and professionally, to ensure success in one's endeavours. I believe you can apply the strategies in areas of your life where you face constant criticism and are never appreciated or applauded for your achievements and contributions. In some instances you obviously need to be selfish and think of yourself, and ...more
Alexander Mastros
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
An intriguing book. It reminds you some wise councils, among other things.

"Dont be a setting sun, abandon things before they abandon you. Sometimes, even the brilliant sun goes behind the clouds so that no one can see him setting..."
Very poetic and picturesque.

"Learn how to forget your mistakes."
So much wisdom in this book but I believe here an error occurred. I find it hard to «forget your mistakes», your mistakes are your greatest teacher. You should remember your mistakes, learn everyday by t
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The equivalent of 50 self-help books written in 50 tiny pages 🙌🏻 Some advice might seem manipulative and some observations mean. But I think it's better to know about the games people play unconsciously and make decisions about your own actions consciously, knowing the full extent of the possible outcomes.
✩⋆ Victoria ⋆✩
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is basically a book for psychopaths on how to manipulate people 😂
Dec 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-5-stars, classics
This book would be great for any slytherin.
Clem Way
Jan 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Some interesting points but nothing new.
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Baltasar Gracián y Morales, SJ (8 January 1601 – 6 December 1658), formerly Anglicized as Baltazar Gracian,[1] was a Spanish Jesuit and baroque prose writer and philosopher. He was born in Belmonte, near Calatayud (Aragón). His proto-existentialist writings were lauded by Nietzsche and Schopenhauer.

The son of a doctor, in his childhood Gracián lived with his uncle, who was a priest. He studied at

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