The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists

ISBN: 0060554738
ISBN 13: 9780060554736
By: Neil Strauss

Check Price Now


Biography Currently Reading Favorites Memoir Non Fiction Nonfiction Psychology Relationships Self Help To Read

About this book

Hidden somewhere, in nearly every major city in the world, is an underground seduction lair. And in these lairs, men trade the most devastatingly effective techniques ever invented to charm women. This is not fiction. These men really exist. They live together in houses known as Projects. And Neil Strauss, the bestselling author, spent two years living among them, using the pseudonym Style to protect his real-life identity. The result is one of the most explosive and controversial books of the year -- guaranteed to change the lives of men and transform the way women understand the opposite sex forever.On his journey from AFC (average frustrated chump) to PUA (pick-up artist) to PUG (pick-up guru), Strauss not only shares scores of original seduction techniques but also has unforgettable encounters with the likes of Tom Cruise, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Heidi Fleiss, and Courtney Love. And then things really start to get strange -- and passions lead to betrayals lead to violence. The Game is the story of one man's transformation from frog to prince -- to prisoner in the most unforgettable book of the year.

Reader's Thoughts


I spent the first 100 pages utterly confused. Was the point of The Game to meet lots of girls, get a girlfriend, or just have lots of sex? One wannabe-PUA crows about losing his virginity - it's a horrible, painful experience which he can't wait to end. But afterwards, he says that he's excited because this will take the pressure off, and allow him to approach more women, presumably to have even more painful, awful sex with women he doesn't like.After a few hundred pages I realised that The Game isn't about sex, or getting a girlfriend, or falling in love. It's just about showing off in front of other men. They're collecting women, but it could just as easily be fast cars, or the high score on Zelda, or bear carcasses. PUAs go out, recite their lines, get phone numbers or a 'kiss close' (a girl kisses you, then leaves), then go home to type up their conquests on PUA message-boards. They could just make the whole experience up, and they would have the same response. Strauss himself realises that "it was really shared emotions and experience that creates relationships, not seven hours of [PUA] routines followed by two hours of sex".I learned a few rules of succeeding in The Game:1. Don't care about women. That way, if they knock you back, it doesn't matter. They're just numbers to you, so anything hurtful they say or do is irrelevant.2. Get used to rejection. One wannabe-PUA spent a weekend trying to chat up exactly 100 women - and "even managed to get a few phone numbers". If 3-5 women gave him their numbers, that means that 95 didn't. It takes unshakable self-esteem to be rejected 95% of the time and still push on.3. As soon as you can, puff up your chest and crow about your successes to any other PUA who will listen.The most disturbing part of the book - hypnosis - is mentioned, but never explored. Strauss mentions a PUA who "approached the girl...and within thirty seconds she was passed out in [his] arms". This is never mentioned again in the book, but is the most sinister aspect, crossing the line from harmless pickup routines into nonconsensual sex.Excluding that aspect, I do feel the need to defend The Game. It's just a series of behaviours and word patters, and women don't just 'fall for it'. We can be dumb sometimes, but we're not that dumb. As the book says, women want sex just like men do, they "just don't want to be pressured, lied to, or made to feel like a slut". If a woman wants to go home with a guy, she will. If she doesn't want to, she won't. Is there really any harm in a guy trotting out some bullshit lines, just to get a girl to notice him? These men are sad, lonely, and socially inept. They need all the help they can get.As I'm sure you can guess, in the book I discovered, word-for-word, a routine that was used on me a few months ago. I met a guy in a club, he started reciting all the lines. We talked for a while, and when he asked for my number I reminded him that I had a boyfriend - to which he said that he just wanted my number so we could continue our conversation about Wuthering Heights (you at the back, please stop laughing at my gullibility). He seemed pretty harmless - I certainly wasn't going to sleep with him, but new friends are always good - so I gave him my number. He texted a few times, then started to mention sex, at which point I told him to please go away, then deleted his number.At the time, I figured that he hadn't got anything out of this interaction. I clearly wasn't interested in him, and we never met up again. Yet, in terms of The Game, he won. He left with a girl's number - a girl with a boyfriend, no less. He could have gone home and bragged online about the pocketful of phone numbers he got, even if they wouldn't have got him any closer to sex or a girlfriend. He could have had approval from other men, and that is the whole point of The Game.


With a subtitle like “Penetrating The Secret Society of Pickup Artists,” I was expecting more of a how-to or an expose. Luckily I was wrong.Strauss’ The Game is a fascinating look at an American subculture’s moment in time. It is a captivating story that rivals Hell’s Angels and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test in its engrossing tale of American hubris, endeavor, success, and failure.The book itself is beautiful, packaged like a bible with gold embossing and a red ribbon bookmark. But it is TOO LONG. And that might be the only thing I didn’t like about it because despite that, there is plenty to keep the reader entertained:As Strauss refines his abilities as a PUA (Pick-up Artist (this book not for the AFoH (Acronym Faint of Heart))), he is assigned an interview with Tom Cruise (other celebrities who make appearances include Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and Courtney Love). Strauss is immediately taken by Tom Cruise’s charisma and likability. Strauss notes that Cruise naturally exudes all the tactics and behaviors PUAs spend months and years trying to master in order to win women’s affection. Tom Cruise introduces Strauss to Scientology and Strauss further identifies the same tactics being used by Scientology recruiters to attract converts as the PUAs use to attract women. There are some really creepy similarities made between Pick-up Artists and Scientologists in this book. So now I don’t know if I’m more freaked out by Scientologists or Mormons.And now that I have read The Game, once I read How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read, there won’t be a graduate student out there who can resist my advances. Yes!But most importantly, The Game contains the BLE (Best Line Ever):“I want a woman I can respect for her art, like a singer or a super-hot stripper.”HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! Gents, next time you head out for the titty bar, tell your significant other that you’re going to an art museum. It is her art and she is dancing it for you.And there was also this little nugget of wisdom from Neil Strauss that I found interesting:“For most of their childhood, females are conditioned to act subservient to male authority figures. Once they grow up, a certain subset of them - many of whom end up in Los Angeles - move through the world psychologically stunted, constantly dumbing themselves down in the presence of the opposite sex. They believe that the techniques they used to manipulate their fathers will work just as well on the rest of the world, and often they’re right.”Poor Britney.

Jim Reaugh

I think The Game straddles the line between comedy and tragedy. If, as I truly would like to believe, Strauss is joking, then the book is a comic masterpiece. If the book is an attempt at non-fiction, then the number of devotees is nothing short of tragic.Some of the recommended pick-up techniques are sinister. One involves discreetly undermining a woman's self-esteem by paying her a backhanded compliment in the hope that she will hang around to seek your approval!!?? Really? Honestly, sinister soon gives way to pathetic in this book. The Game is really a book about the fragility of male ego and how it seeks refuge from the complexity of human relations in a puerile cult of sexual conquest.I find it remarkable how Strauss races up the ranks of the pick-up fraternity even before he has procured so much as a snog from a lady. So bereft of charisma are most of the people who haunt the lothario chatrooms that anyone with a modicum of self-awareness and humour can take command.It soon becomes clear that the approval PUA's get from other men is more intoxicating than the pleasure they get from sex.Terrible...simply terrible.


Yes, I'm female and No, I didn't read this to learn "pick-up" tricks! I heard about this New York Times bestseller a couple months ago from a girlfriend of mine in LA, I was intrigued enough to pick it up. Once I started reading I could not put it down! It is 400+ pages and it's an absolute page turner (in my opinion). It is very easy to read. I read the whole book in one weekend.Strauss exposes an interesting, often sad world of how easily everyone (men and women) can be manipulated, influenced, and persuaded by our unmet needs, emotions, and our primal need to belong and connect with others. He plays this out in the LA social scene. But again, it goes far beyond dating and pick-up lines. The Game is a bit of a disturbing look into our "emotional hooks", how and why we make decisions, non-verbal communication, and how we all use or don't use power tactics. It is a book like none other- I've never read anything like it. It is a true story of Strauss and his life in LA for a couple years, it is a wild, thought provoking, raw story. The 'pick-up" components are 3% of the story, and the under currents of psychology/ human behavior is 97% of the book. I've read alot of self-help, pseudo-spiritual books over the years, this one definitely stayed with me, it is an eye opener!


For a book that targets (and caters very well to) young males, "The Game" truly belongs in the hands of a twenty-something cynic.Parts of the story read like a self-help book, which was very funny in and of itself. But what I found to be interesting (on some level, perhaps) was that Strauss has taken his version of "rags-to-riches" and turned it into colorful, sexual, hopeful prose that reveals a protagonist traveling down a highway of mayhem to a destination of confusion. Fun. I imagine this is how a script for an infomercial reads; like Chuck Norris demonstrating some back-breaking exercise machine or Paula Dean pushing a spray-on chocolate sauce, this is a how-to-make-your-life-better-by-jumping-off-a-cliff type story. Despite the author's experience as a writer, it wasn't written very well (each chapter ends with some lame, unbelievable tidbit), the story was a bit dull (a guy called "Mystery" goes "Peacocking"...c'mon), and it left me with an overall sense of "Why?". (I'll tell you why, because when you're stuck in the London Heathrow passenger terminal for 6 hours and you have to make a choice between a black leather-bound #1 seller and something about sisterhood and traveling pants, you choose "The Game".)That said, it passed the time. Borrow it with low expectations.


Originally, "The Game" held a lot of promise, and I can see why it briefly became a NYT Bestseller. The author, under the pseudonym "Style," generally writes well and knows how to tell a story, which comes off far better than your average blog. He should, too, since he wrote for Rolling Stone and the New York Times in his prior life as a music journalist. He illustrates his supposedly true-to-life journey through the world of seduction and pickup, and it's a fairly quick and interesting read for the uninitiated.Unfortunately, it all falls apart once you take a look at the author from a view outside his own.At the beginning, he panders to his probable audience, saying his reasoning for learning pickup stems from emotional insecurity, sexual frustration, and a desire to learn as much as he can. In essence, he's just another guy who wants to improve himself; he's just another one of the boys. Convenient, right? Problem is, he never really gets away from that line of thinking, but as he changes and the story becomes more and more outrageous, it becomes more difficult to believe. As he's discussing his trips to Eastern Europe, Australia, and Los Angeles (and sleeping with dozens of women), he still claims to harbor these intense insecurities. It doesn't really click, and it's a disconnect that lasts throughout the entire novel.Similarly, for someone so insecure, he does an awful lot of bragging. There's one particularly eye-rolling chapter where every single paragraph describes a different woman he slept with, as the details grow increasingly few. The intended effect was meant to show how he saw all women blurring together; the actual effect caused more than a bit of "really?" on my end. It's vain and stupid, and in case he hadn't been divisive enough up to that point, he pretty much guarantees a negative reaction with that. Worse, it's hard to tell why he would bother-- for someone of his writing and journalistic pedigree, you'd think he would know a sad trope when he sees one.As it stands, "The Game" is a titillating introduction to some true oddball characters and a world devoted to a subject most choose to willingly ignore. It's particularly interesting for those who know nothing of the field, or its participants. It's a decent story worth telling. Unfortunately, it just makes you wish someone else had taken a stab at it, first.

Todd Nemet

Who knew that a book ostensibly on dating would be such a wonderful meditation on existential despair and what it means to be a man.NYT writer and erstwhile nerd Neil Strauss joins the "pickup artist community" either as a writing assignment or as a means of escaping the friend zone. (I wasn't reading that carefully at the beginning.)He finds a group of social outcasts who have analyzed, dissected, and labeled each stage and possible outcome of a social encounter with the goal of meeting and attracting the opposite sex. (It's unclear why there are no gay pick up artists.)Some of these techniques -- such as "peacocking" by wearing outlandish clothing, performing magic tricks, and cheesy palm reading routines -- seem far more embarrassing than rejection itself. But apparently they work.What Temple Grandin is to slaughtering cows, these guys are to picking up women.Sadly, some of them panic when they get into a situation that doesn't have a label or an associated technique, such as successfully seducing a woman. It's sort of like a dog who catches a car and has no idea what to do with it. Even more sadly, some of them are such dedicated onanists that they find they are incapable of orgasm involving another person.Neil becomes fascinated with a bi-polar, Canadian, magician with daddy issues and a narcissistic personality disorder (my diagnosis) that goes by the handle Mystery. (They all have pick-up artist nicknames, similar to people who used CB radios back in the 70s.) They support themselves by traveling around the world holding seminars on how to pick up girls. Price: around $1,500 for a 3 night lesson.Mystery's life goal is oddly specific: He wants a long-term relationship with two bi-sexual women, one Asian and one blonde, who will be lovers as well as assistants for his magic show. He doesn't achieve this goal.When a group of top-ranked pickup artists decide to move into a house together and call it Project Hollywood, the beta males all suddenly grow bitch claws and start attacking each other. Mr. Strauss tries to keep a writerly detachment but he's caught up in all the games. Everything falls apart with the amount of drama that you might expect from a group of people dedicated to the art of manipulation. Oh, and Courtney Love has moved in by this time.I was curious about the opportunities that are available post-pick up artist. According to this book they are as follows: (1) reality show contestant, (2) married and monogamous, though somehow marrying a party girl they met at a club using manipulative techniques doesn't lead to a healthy long-term relationship, (3) devoutly religious, trading one form of ecstasy for another and trying to fill the God-shaped hole with an actual God, and (4) dating Courtney Love's guitarist.Oddly compelling and highly recommended.


This book is so much better than "The Pickup Artist" by Mystery -- large credit goes to the author, Neil Strauss, who can actually WRITE. He weaved a story about an entire community and how it changed and affected his life. But in the end, it wasn't about learning pick-up artist games, it was about learning to simply be comfortable as himself. In that regard, I think a lot of men could benefit from learning Strauss' life lessons. I've heard a lot of their games and lines before, so it was both amusing and awful to read about their origins. I've fallen for the games in the past and then discovered later that there was nothing behind them b/c the people delivering the games had nothing other than game. Strauss comes to the same conclusion and for that I say, thank you for writing about it. Game means absolutely nothing without a real personality behind it.The part I find most sad is that there are a lot of guys out there who are still doing this crap and they have such low self esteem and know so little about themselves at the core. Yet they will persist at it to continue validating their existence through how many phone numbers they get from women and how many women they get into bed. Strauss' stories seem too strange to be real, but the truth really is often stranger than fiction. I didn't give this 4 stars because I was so disgusted by the lives of these people that it prevented me from enjoying the book more.One thing I wish that the author had explored more in his writing (b/c he clearly explored it within himself but didn't embellish further) was the application of the pick-up arts to better life scenarios for doing good things. I have definitely seen the possibility of how increased social skills can be taught to those who are socially challenged and that these skills can be applied to much better uses than just picking up unsuspecting women in a bar. As a woman, I am not so gullible anymore to bad games and I pity any man who attempts one on me in the future.


I really struggled with whether to give this book three stars or four. A good friend of mine started talking to me one day about a male friend's behavior, and this book is what the discussion culminated in. He went to dig it out of his car, handed it over, and about a week later, here I am. The first adjective that comes to mind when I think of The Game is "interesting." At points, it's hard to really take Strauss's story seriously - the men, and many of the situations, just are so difficult to think of as actually existing. I'll leave any debates of realism to others though. The Game is an intriguing drop into a male-dominated world of sex and seduction. "Average Frustrated Chump" Neil gets pulled into writing a piece on pick-up artists, and in the meantime decides he's tired of his romantic life, and attends a pick-up workshop. More successful than his classmates, he's quickly adopted into the community of pick-up artists and begins to (unintentionally) work his way toward becoming the best. I've seen a lot of people put this down for the ways women are discussed, questions of believability, and the crass nature of many of the chapters, but what pushed it into four stars is the fact that The Game really touched on something. As Strauss discusses the community of pick-up artists, he takes a look at what truly makes a person fulfilled. Is it really the ability to go out and pick up anyone to take home for a night? Is it meaningless sex? What makes sex meaningful? I've seen some people refer to this as a manual, but anyone who thinks Strauss is trying to teach them how to go out and seduce women clearly missed the deeper points of the book. Overall, it was an interesting read that went by pretty quickly. If you're too easily offended by misogyny, swearing, or explicit sexual talk, it's probably best to stay away, but it's an interesting peek into social dynamics.


I watched the TV show, "The Pickup Artist," a couple of years ago, and this book got rave reviews from some men I know very well. Some wanted to gain an edge when talking to the average woman (ugh) and others just read it for entertainment value. As someone astutely questioned, why am *I* reading it? Well... "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles." (Sun Tzu)I watched some of the show with mixed feelings and found myself feeling the same way about the book: proud of these men for taking their life into their own hands and learning how to communicate with people they used to find intimidating, but also annoyed with the misogynistic trickery that went along with it.I actually recognized the tactics of "The Game" from my own past experience in bars, clubs, and even just leaving the house. As the author insists, they do work on a certain type of girl. I'm happy to report after extensive "field-testing" that I am NOT that type of girl.A few examples of hapless misplaced "sarges":I was having drinks with a colleague in a hotel bar when an older man interrupted us to demonstrate a magic trick involving a coin and my participation. He had one too many directions for my liking, so I finally asked him to just explain the expected outcome. Hoping to bait me further, he refused to tell me, so I turned around and ignored him. He proceeded to drop his coin on the floor and touched my legs while he was down there. Suffice it to say words were exchanged with my rather large male colleague, and his friends saved him what could have been a good physical beating on top of that.I was at a club with some friends when a younger guy approached me, asking if I'd seen the fight outside. He assured me that it was still going on and I should go check it out. Several of my friends were dancing and I wanted to keep our seats for when they returned. I told him I wasn't interested, but he kept nagging me. I told him if he didn't go away and leave me alone, I'd punch him in the neck. I don't remember all of what happened after that, but it was confirmed that I made good on my promise.I was waiting at a bus stop when a guy asked me to "settle a bet" because he thought he could guess my name. It was an obvious ploy to talk to me, and I had to be aloof because walking away meant missing the bus. He kept trying to talk to me, even though I was wearing sunglasses and headphones and a posture that screamed, "Don't talk to me." I finally ended it by saying, "You are out of guesses. This conversation is over."I didn't know these approaches had been hand-selected from a book, but something about them felt contrived and wrong. These were "openers," lines and scripts that were premeditated and designed to lure me in. *sigh* I wish it were that easy.Perhaps my broken female brain isn't wired to heed such pithy calls to action, even when I'm in my regular state of three sheets to the wind. I don't mind idle chat as much as I used to, but I still don't enjoy talking to strangers who have nothing to say.This hostile mindset does not make me particularly smart or even astutely aware of my surroundings. It more likely means I was bred with a level of skepticism that is unlikely to change. The book is about how to open the lines of communication leading up to seducing the opposite sex. Do I want to be seduced? Of course, more than anyone would believe. But since I'm apt to loathe the regular tricks and immediately search for a true connection or at least clever conversation, it's going to take extra effort from whoever feels they are up to the challenge.*crickets*Yeah, I thought so.I appreciate that the author notes: "If I didn't get the phone number, I didn't blame it on the girl for being cold or bitchy, as so many other sargers did. I blamed myself and analyzed every word, gesture, and reaction until I pinpointed a tactical error."This is not common for most men, both in his experience and mine. This calls to mind a particular instance when I was using my laptop in the lobby of my apartment complex, again minding my own business, when a guy approached me and asked if the lobby had free wireless. I looked up and replied, "Yes." And the guy turned to his two friends and loudly exclaimed, "Man, Seattle women are BITCHES! I just asked a question! Why are girls here such BITCHES?!?" He proceeded to mimic my answer as he stormed out of the building. Um... yeah. Boy was I missing out.The author also points out a sad truth: "Most men make the mistake of believing that an attractive woman who doesn't talk to or acknowledge him is a bitch. Most of the time, however, she's just as shy or insecure as the less attractive women he's ignoring—if not more so."I often think something along those lines when talking to people I don't know very well. They could feel just as uncomfortable not knowing me as I feel not knowing them, so I should give people the benefit of the doubt and appear as happy and confident as I can.Anyway, this book obviously did its job. It got me to think about the social dynamics between men and women, and it entertained me too. Even if you're female, not interested in dating, married, or a hermit, you'll likely find at least some value in this book.


Well, I'm 2/3 of the way through this book and it is an outstandingly strange read. On one hand, it's got some interesting notions about human behavior, mostly grounded in the notions of the way women are generally socialized to deal with sexuality and, thus, men's ability to exploit that (though, ultimately, Strauss mostly tries to deny he's doing any such thing. Which is to say that his rationalizations of the entire pickup artist community are staggering). But, on the other hand, if everything in the book is true, it speaks to terrifying truths about human nature. If women really do react this way -- and I assume it's only a certain age of woman and with a lesser intelligence level, as the book takes place mostly in clubs in LA and Toronto -- then I fear for humanity. I really do.Moreover, the book appears to be a giant bragging effort by Strauss. It's filled with locker room talk, graphic exploits of his sexual conquests and relatively quasimacho nonsense. ---OK. I finished. I can't properly rate this book. I'm too mixed.

Dr. Detroit

Fascinating, unbelievably cringe-inducing and just downright pathetic, "The Game" is equal parts journal, "Penthouse Forum," snuff film, dog-eared, back-of-magazine ad for "How to Pick Up Girls," and closed-head-injury survivor encounter session as hopeless, socially-bankrupt, mouth-breathing, desperate no-lifers mack on the ladies and fall all over themselves to test drive their game in bars, restaurants, museums, and just about anywhere else where gullible harlots, hedonists, sybarites, sodomites, debauchees, degenerates, wallowers, and wastrels pass the time, all too eager to fall for bullshit so deep you have to keep your feet up so you don't get any on your shoes, eyes glazing over as they wait for Prince Charming to sweep them off their feet and lead them down the road to Trouble Town.In other words, I loved it.


This is a surprisingly good book that I would never have read if it hadn't been strongly recommended by a friend who was reading it and was totally fascinated by the gender politics. The author, Neil Strauss, has ghost written some celebrity memoirs, and writes for Rolling Stone and the New York Times. In other words, this man can write. The thing that makes this book so interesting is the author's running monologue about gender, specifically masculinity and the ways that boys and men are taught to think about women. Some of it is disturbing - the constant rating of girls on a 10 point scale, the older men sleeping with 18 and 19 year olds, convincing them to have threesomes using the "tricks" the learned as pick-up artists, the endless descriptions of these guys having sex with women they don't care about, having relationships with women that they so clearly don't consider to be equals. And this is the most interesting part of the book: Neil Strauss eventually catches on to the fact that the pick up artist subculture that he is a part of is really a community of men. It is the men that share the emotional attachments, not the women they pick up. I have a lot more to say about this book, but this computer doesn't have a working enter key, turning this review into a huge block of text. In conclusion (for now): definitely worth reading as it's a very quick read, but I wouldn't buy it.

Nicholas Karpuk

There's an interesting article I found before I read this book that really gives some insight into the pick up world as it stands now, years after The Game came out. ANTI-PUAS When I first noticed that title, on a site like Jezebel, I just naturally assumed it was a place devoted to dissecting what's so broken and wrong about pick up artist culture. But nope, it's basically the equivalent of an anti-scam artist page. These guys are all furious and filled with misogynistic rage because the canned patter and mind games didn't get them laid.Here's the thing, and it's something that even Strauss discovered by the end of the book: memes have a saturation point. Trying to use the standard pick up artist tactics from these books is like asking "Why did the chicken cross the road?" Most people are at least passingly familiar with the concept, and will not be impressed. Even as a person who never watched Mystery's TV show I still had at least a basic knowledge of negging and peacocking just from people making fun of it.Because really, anytime pick up artists are mentioned outside their own context, it's to make fun of them. A PUA (which sounds like the noise you make when you spit out something that's gone bad) will try to tell you that we're all just jealous or in denial of our primal instincts or just lack what it takes. But PUAs seem to be powered by two things, acronyms and rationalizations.Strauss' book is rotten with acronyms and PUA slang. 3% of the book is entirely devoted to a glossary of all these needless terms. And the rationalizations about their behavior are a constant force. Most of the PUAs are constantly reading, so they can throw out some biology study to justify their promiscuity and bad behavior. The most memorable justification to me was "It's not lying, it's flirting." After a while it's hard to not just yell at my Kindle, "No. You're lying. It's all lies, deceptions, or manipulation. You know who else uses this much weaselly language to support their behavior? Con artists. You are a sexual con artist." What separates Neil Strauss from most of the people he documents is that Strauss internalized the reasons why all the advice and tactics worked, and used it to build his self esteem and create new tactics. And because he's a thinking person who got into it because he genuinely felt he lacked something, he's the same type who would of course leave the community when he realized that the community had much more limited interests and values.Because really, the bulk of the pick up artist industry is basically trying to turn horny, socially-retarded nerds into sexual sociopaths. They aren't using this information to teach true confidence, they're memorizing the words and patterns like it's a cheat code in a video game. Just type IDKFA to get 9.5 ho at a club to kiss you!No wonder they get angry when they realize everyone's already heard these cheesy lines, and that sometimes even the dumbest girls have already had more than one guy in a flamboyant outfit try to screw with her head.What really fascinated me was a comment that even Strauss himself made early on, that some girls just don't respond to the pick up artist tactics. He dismissed this by saying those are the girls they don't want anyway, but it's worth digging into. Some people, no matter how fancy your pitch, know bullshit when they hear it. The demeanor of a sales pitch, no matter how sly, is going to be visible to some people. So the PUA tactics, by nature, remove any girls who are even halfway perceptive. This, at least to me, actually makes the whole thing more predatory.It also makes it terrible for those few PUAs in the book who say they're looking for a girlfriend. If we're all looking for a partner with quality, this is narrowing it down to some of the wrong traits.The best put down to the whole process actually came from Tom Cruise, who Strauss interviewed because unlike a lot of the PUAs, Strauss actually had a pretty decent career, which allowed him to do celebrity interviews for places like Rolling Stone.To quote Cruise, ”A lot of that stuff is about trying to control people and manipulate situations. Can you imagine all the effort they’re putting into that? If they took that effort and put it toward something constructive, who knows what they could accomplish.“Like a bullet through the heart of all other arguments. Tom Cruise may be one of the most ridiculous figures in acting, but the guy is more or less made of confidence. Even when I was young at utterly clueless about women, this sort of behavior never really appealed to me. Sure, I wanted a girlfriend, but the methods PUAs use involved spending massive amounts of time, money, and effort. While it seems to provide some measure of sexual success, it doesn't seem to make most of them any smarter, any more successful, any wealthier, or any healthier in anything except perhaps pelvis strength.One of the PUA techniques they kept referring to was to "show value", where you do a magic trick or otherwise entertain the target. You know what attracts normal women? Actual value. Seriously, pick up a new hobby, go back to school, start working out, join a book club, anything that would give you more value in mind or body. There are probably women who will respond to that.I'd like to give this a higher score, since it's well paced and Strauss has a knack for being thorough without it being unwieldy, but I feel like his journalism is miles ahead of his writing.Hunter S. Thompson always had a knack for writing from inside hellish scenarios with a good perspective. The trouble with Strauss is that the perspective only comes in sporadically, a line pointing out the foolishness of the PUAs before diving back into denial. Only at the end does he deliver a moral about the hollowness of the lifestyle, and it's hard to really swallow after reading the Wikipedia article about him breaking up with the girl he's with at the end and starting a dating business.There are also times when it seems like Strauss still speaks from a place of insecurity. Name dropping the books he's reading to show off his intellect just raises an eyebrow, but the narrative seems to give the impression that he's somehow above the behavior other PUAs engaged in, even when he's just described himself participating in that exact same behavior. It feels like we're getting a picture of Strauss himself that's distorted by his own ego. His own journalistic clarity doesn't extend to himself nearly as consistently.But the most offensive blind spot is how little he seems to comment on the misogynistic nature of the whole affair. When you basically treat women as disposible targets, it's weird not to comment on how objectifying that is. Considering how much he talks about the community turning men into robots, the absence of much discussion of how it teaches them to view women feels like a lost opportunity.It's still an entertaining read, and definitely worth recommending to anyone with a young daughter. The guide ends up being a very effective guide on how to spot a pick up artist in the wild.


I don't usually say I've read a book when I haven't finished it. But I simply can't read the second half of this book without losing little parts of my soul on every page, and I damn well want recognition for those parts of my soul I have already lost. So here I am, reviewing a book I haven't really read.Let's start with something important - Neil Strauss is a very talented writer, His style is not only engaging but often even literary, and I didn't just enjoy turning pages quickly but was quite comfortable in the warm bath of his prose. So full points for style (no pun intended). It's the content that stinks. you see, fundamentally, Neill Strauss is a big nerd. The kind that is scared of women - and we all know fear breeds contempt, misunderstanding, and misrepresentation. He admits his nerdery freely, but what he seems to have missed in the detail of this horrifically graphic, autobiographical book of sexual exploration and psychological navel gazing, is that pick-up does not transform him. While he is swept up in a world that gives him magical powers to overcome his own shortcomings (again, no pun intended), he doesn't understand that the essential problem in his sex life is that he doesn't see it as social life - in other words, he still sees women as objects, not people. 'Style' is just Neill Strauss in a cowboy hat, with a poorly-written script and a hard-on.Style still doesn't understand women because he has failed to identify with them. If this is a book about freeing your sexuality, it is also a book about stifling your humanity. It is about using your words to manipulate, and using sex to dominate. Without throwing a single punch, it is fundamentally violent. It claims to be about demystifying women, but really it is about stripping them of all reality and moulding them into what some men would rather they were - mindless, obedient pliable, and constantly, overtly sexual.There may have been some kind of redemption later in the book, but I could not wait around for it - too much had already been said. Too many stereotypes had been promoted and too many coded ways of undermining women had been let loose into the slimy gutters and the minds of readers. I couldn't handle this book. It made me nauseous. Mr Strauss, please use your powers of writing for good next time.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *