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


A fast-paced, very well-penned, fun, intriguing story of social psychology, nobodies becoming superstars, emotional self-destruction, and the birth of the seduction industry. Neil studies the art of the pickup from ground zero, starting under the wing of the famous Mystery, and then hopping from guru to guru, building a name for himself as a master of women while simultaneously reflecting on how absurd, magical, and ultimately destructive the whole thing is. Oddly enough, this book's narrative arc reminds me of Pirates of Silicon Valley, or reading the story of any number of tech startups. You've got a cast of quirky characters all out on the pioneering edge of an industry, pushing new ideas forward, competing fiercely in a small arena, and going on ridiculous adventures.I loved the book, and it reads fast. I'd recommend it to everybody; it's not exclusively guy fodder.


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!

Robin (Bridge Four)

“If there was anything I'd learned, it's that the man never chooses the woman. All he can do is give her an opportunity to choose him.” This is not a normal book read for me. I got it for my husband after he heard the author on the Howard Stern show. I will say that this is definitely a book geared for men but if you are an open minded female it is an interesting enough story that of one man’s journey from a total average boy next door struggling to get a date, into a super mac daddy to a man who learned what it meant to really connect with someone else.The journey was full of interesting people and ideas. If you are a single male this is a great book to if nothing else get across that the more confident you are the more likely you are to attract someone of the opposite sex. Everyone knows that right, but it gives you some great ways to create an opening in a social situation. If you are creative you could probably take some ideas from this book and twist them up to your benefit.There are some stories in the book including interactions with Scott Bayo and Tom Cruise that were incredibly interesting. The story of Mystery and the workshops he was running for men to learn how to seduce women were crazy and it was hard to believe that someone would walk around in complete peacock fashion but I’ve seen pictures since reading the book and it would seem that the portrayal him was pretty accurate. Mystery had a pretty up and down life, he was an interesting character in the book and reading about his highs and lows put an interesting spin on the story.Guys If you might need a little extra help to figure out how to talk to girls, or what to read about someone else’s struggles and triumphs then this is probably a good start. It also has a list of books that you might want to check out on how to please a woman in bed…..just a suggestion, as well as other books on seduction if you are so inclined to delve deeper. I don’t think it will make you into a dating machine but it had some decent tips and a story is totally directed toward men.Girls If you are single and part of the dating scene, I’d recommend reading this. Chances are some form of the game has been run on you at some point. I’m not saying to shoot down anyone that tries to run a scenario on you, but at least you would know ahead of time what you were getting into. This book might have saved me from a jerk or two back in my single days. I think that most girls will like where the story ends.And the Moral of the story is..... “Without commitment, you cannot have depth in anything, whether it's a relationship, a business or a hobby.”

Erin Noble

** spoiler alert ** I started reading this book out of curiosity; it quickly became more. Strauss demonstrates throughout the book that he is not your average sex-obsessed PUA (pick-up artist) nor is he a sensationalist writer. He's taken a subject with a crude potential of 10 and made a meaningful piece out of it. I'm struck by the similarities between PUAs and salesmen. I had to deal with many alpha salesman personalities in the lumber industry, so the PUA strategies were not unfamiliar: Demonstrating social value, yes-ladders, creating an emotional connection... translate these respectively to having a good reference, a good sales pitch and "shooting the shit" and you have an excellent sales manual. Through his analysis of socially dominant people, Mystery understands more than just how to pickup women: he understands how to attract people.The conclusions Strauss draws about the importance of being oneself and acting in line with your core values (through reflection on the uber-analytical PUA Tyler Derton) are on point. He even begins yearning for permanence community (an emotion my age group, the 20-somethings, can readily identify with), and founds the rather twisted Planet Hollywood as a result.Strauss gets a lot of concepts that my "20-something" struggles with, a self-identification that contributes to my liking the book so much. But, especially towards the end of the book, Strauss mounts the saddle of a very high horse (haha this review thing is fun!). He presents himself as the anchor of Planet Community, the calm in the storm, the stereotypically steadfast protagonist wading through the world's chaos. Regardless of whether this is true, the distasteful presentation left a bitter taste in my mouth and I can't help thinking that his writer's lens is foggy from all that action he's been getting.~ENFurther psychological analyzing:Frogs Into Princes, Richard Bandler and John Grinder. These two guys appear in the book as mysterious gurus who see a jedi in Strauss and teach him "the force", imploring him to use it only to make women happy (great power comes with great responsibility, right??). Their method of reading body queues and hypnotism is outlined here, the original and probably still greatest work on Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP).


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 learned that I am what, in pick up artist ("PUA") parlance, is called a "natural." I've never had problems meeting women. So I didn't pick this book up for its instructional content. Rather, I was intrigued into reading this book by curiosity. I wanted to see how my life experience stacked up with my preconceived notion of a true PUA. I envisioned a PUA as being a highly confident, suave, cool operator that women swoon over without being able to control themselves. I learned that my concept of what the PUA is, prior to reading this book, was wrong. In fact, PUAs are very insecure, needy, but intelligent people that have figured out how to give off the illusion of being confident and interesting, to trick (or some may say "persuade") women into casual, short-term and primarily physical relationships. Yet, they long for the long-term relationships, built on emotional connections, that us "naturals" seek and often maintain, but have mistakenly chosen what they perceive to be the best path to get there- i.e., picking up many women constantly. I'll cease any further substantive review because I don't want to spoil the book for anyone interested in picking it up (pun intended). But I will add two more comments: First, viewed in a general sense, the concepts discussed in this book within the context of meeting and successfully "closing" women, can be applied to all other aspects of life. I plan to incorporate them into my practice and use some of them to "pick up" new clients and negotiate and close business deals. Many of the concepts in Strauss' book were restatements of concepts I found in marketing and persuasive psychology books I've read. Second, the writing is good and it flows well despite Strauss' style of doing the little things that writing instructors and agents caution against- for instance, his frequent use of descriptors that end in "ingly," and switching tenses too often in the same chapter. Some writers can pull this off and still give you a good read. Strauss is one of those writers. It's a page turner.

Isa K.

I'll start with the Cliff Notes for those of you who don't like long reviews: This book would be five stars if it was about 200 pages shorter. And if you're one of those people who takes things way too literal, confuses the opinions and attitudes of the subject for the opinions and attitudes of the author, or needs every report of observed misogyny to be prefaced with twelve paragraphs of either apology or condemnation ... this is probably not the book for you.At the same time this book makes a rather revolutionary suggestion that I think more women NEED to open their minds to. But that's not the way things go with this one ... people get too distracted by the bombast. They either eagerly attach themselves to the promise of some secret seduction technique, or they become blinded by their offense.It's true, there are a lot of offensive things in this book. But that seems to be par for the course with social commentary nowadays. If no one is pissed off, no one is listening.My first exposure to this book was Arden Leigh's column on being a female pickup artist (here after PUA). I was fascinated by the idea, but like most I didn't really believe her claims. She looked perfectly pretty to me. Doubtful her "technique" played that much of a significant role in her seduction success. Probably more like a combination of actual attractiveness and good old fashioned confidence.Then a female friend described this book as "amazing" and "life-changing" and I thought "waaaaaaaatt?" O.o Especially since this friend is normally all positive energy, self love, visualization/actualization bullshit. Talk about cognitive dissonance.I was intrigued, and within twenty pages I understood EXACTLY why she loved it.Let me clear something up for the rest of you: THIS IS NOT A BOOK ABOUT HOW TO SLEEP WITH WOMEN.This is a book that tries to trick you into thinking that it's about having sex with the hottest girls possible, because that is way more marketable than the actual content (especially to a male audience). But that is not what this book is about. The amount of actual advice on how to pick up women is tiny ... barely 5% I'd say.This is a memoir -slash- cautionary tale about the dangers of living your life constantly seeking validation from others. The various PUA artists in this book are all depicted as sad, pathetic, self-loathing, mentally unstable people who truly believe that being desirable to others will make them like themselves more. But from chapter one Strauss makes it clear that doesn't happen. They get everything they think they want and end up more miserable for it.The problem is this book is too fucking long. I half suspect that most of the people (both women and men) who talk about it in terms of its seduction secrets did not read it to the end. Add to this the fact that Strauss is trying to stay in character as he narrates his journey from True Believer to Disillusioned Master and the profound brilliance of The Game barely has a chance. There are plenty of hints dropped throughout the book about Strauss's eventual enlightenment, but some people have no mind for subtly I guess.Anywayz...--PART ONE--The first chunk of The Game tosses out a pretty mindblowing concept for would be Gamers to consider:Attraction is not physical, but psychological. Part of what annoys me about the so-called "feminist" reaction to this book is that there's a multi-billion dollar industry built around convincing women of the exact opposite and humiliating anyone who dares to call bullshit. An industry that makes the bulk of its money by inventing flaws and imperfections to make women feel horrible about themselves. And yet the best we can come up with to combat it are fairytales about "different standards of beauty"? These feminists act like liberation from the image-obsessed media is all about accepting your lot in life and just waiting for a partner whose standard of beauty happens to fit your look to come along. They accept the underlying notion that some people are "pretty" and some are not ... and try to use relativity as a weak defense.The big problem with this thinking is that people are not static. Looks change over time. If the answer was to rely on the off chance someone somewhere thinks you are beautiful exactly the way you are ... what happens when you no longer look the way you used to?By contrast Mystery's Method claims attraction has more to do with how people feel around you than how you look. Mystery teaches his students about group think and instructs his pupils to focus on the friends of the hot girl, rather than the hot girl. People are strongly influenced by the opinion of the group. Anyone who's taken a basic organizational behavior class has read the mounds of research on this. When your target sees everyone around her acting like you are amusing and desirable, she will be more attracted to you.People become much more susceptible to that suggestion when they themselves feel insecure. So the second thing Mystery teaches his students is the "neg". Probably the most controversial part of the book, the neg is basically just a back handed compliment. It's teasing, innocent, and delivered in a flirtatious manner. It's this disconnect between the words (which sound like a criticism) and the way they are delivered (which sounds positive) that makes people second guess themselves. And the suggestion that maybe the PUA isn't interested in the target makes the target more likely to convince themselves of an attraction. The group desires something apparently unattainable ... a recipe for attraction.Of course some readers seem to have interpreted the passages about negs to mean "act like a fucking jerk" That's not at all what Strauss is describing.Most of The Game's secrets resonated with me because I've been there. When I was twenty-two my life fell apart and I moved to the Czech Republic to escape my demons. My first week there I fell for a stocky, thirty-six year old statistician with a bowl cut and coke bottle thick glasses (Revenge of the Nerds all the way). I knew objectively speaking this man was in no way attractive, but I couldn't help myself. I had the biggest crush.I was also in a strange country where I didn't speak the language. I had no idea where I was going to live, whether I could get a job. I knew NO ONE. And here was this guy who was knowledgeable about something interesting to me and talked to me like I was SMART. Of course I was smitten.At the same time two of my American roommates were fighting over a balding, short, bespeckled geologist who smoked way too much pot and had abandoned his pregnant girlfriend back in the states to run off to Prague ... So yes, it's not that people have "different standards of beauty", it's that attraction is psychological.Now take a minute to consider what that means: you can be with any person you want. Right now. Absolutely anyone. The determining factor is not perfecting your physical form, but making them feel a certain way around you. They won't suddenly think you're beautiful, they will suddenly not care that you aren't. Consider that unlike your physical appearance, your personality and social skills don't change.Every girl in America should read this book.--PART TWO--This is where the book suffers. Strauss moves from discussion of technique to long rambling conquest stories with backgrounds of various PUA mixed in. Although the PUAs become important later, at least half of these could have been cut.--PART THREE--The last part of the book is probably the most important. Prior to this Strauss has tried to maintain the voice and perspective of someone who believes he has discovered the secrets of the universe. There is the occasional remark that alludes to problems with the PUA lifestyle (many of his ... err colleagues? have no other interests or pursuits, Strauss finds that while he has no problem picking up women he has become sort of the jerk to his friends, the community's resentment of women alarms him, etc, etc, etc) but the narrative quickly jerks back.Until Strauss's mentor begins to self-destruct. At this point Strauss realizes that most of his students haven't gained anything by being PUAs, they've actually lost a lot. Even though they win the women they want, they only wanted those women in the first place because they were trying to impress others. Instead of seducing the crowd to win the girl, they are trying to win the girl to seduce the crowd. Instead of surrounding themselves with awesome people who make them happy, they inevitably surround themselves with people who they think will make them look attractive and successful to others but ultimately do not like. This soulless existence only increases their underlying self hate.Strauss's ultimate point is that the reality of the PUA is giving up all the pleasures of ACTUAL LIFE for the endless quest of validation from some outside source. The tragedy being that as soon as the PUA gets to know the person providing the validation, once they become a human being with their own flaws and insecurities, they're approval is no longer valuable. And so the cycle continues until everyone is miserable.


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.

Polly Trout

There are some very valid reasons to skim through this controversial, pornographic, poorly written, and often obnoxious anthropological tour of the "seduction community," a network of men who use social psychology and hypnosis to pick up women. First, women should know that this exists and defend themselves accordingly -- if you don't want to wade through a whole book on the subject, here's a synopsis:'s fascinating and queasy at the same time. The second reason is that although this book got slammed by feminists, Strauss is actually a whole lot smarter and more thoughtful than he first appears on the surface. The book is a pseudo-memoir in the gonzo journalism style, mixing participant observation with tall tales about life in the meat market. Strauss is not a missionary for the movement, but instead charts his own relationship with the seduction community from skepticism to enthusiasm to ambivalence to rejection. I don't know how anyone could miss this, since the opening chapter is about a famous pickup artist's psychotic break and existential despair, and the book continuously circles around the underlying anxiety and loneliness that drives the pickup mentality. Compared to "Fear and Loathing," which does hilariously glorify drugs, sex, and mayhem, Strauss's gonzo style is more critical and distanced. Here is how he ends the book: "And though I've learned everything there is is about attraction, seduction, and courtship in the past two years, I learned nothing about maintaining a healthy relationship. Being together has required a lot more time and work than learning to pick up women ever did, but it has brought me far greater satisfaction and joy. Perhaps that's because it is not a game."The third reason is that if you factor out all the misogyny and silliness (a tall order, I know), then there is actually a surprising amount of good advice in here -- advice I myself would give, albeit within a different philosophical and ethical framework, to any guy who was currently lonely, bored, desperate for human contact, and terrified of talking to women -- and sadly there's a whole lot of people like that in our society, people paralyzed with anxiety and anomie wasting their lives in social and emotional vacuums. Sometimes it takes some baby steps to break out of a disabling mental box, and Strauss charts how sex can sometimes function as a psychic icebreaker to get somebody who is stuck moving forward towards real life. The sex drive is powerful enough to motivate someone who has dug themselves into a deep and alienating silo to climb out of it, and that motivation, under the right circumstances, can help break them out of dysfunctional patterns that are not working. For example, my favorite part of the book comes early on: Strauss has just signed up for a "workshop" with a pickup artist, who is bringing him and some other shy and geeky guys to night clubs and teaching them how to pick up women. Another guy in the same workshop is 26 and never even kissed a girl before. He is so shy that he cannot use a urinal, because peeing in front of other guys terrifies him. A few weeks later, he excitedly shares, "I can pee beside people now! It's all about confidence. So the stuff I learned in the workshop isn't just for chicks after's for pissing too!" So to summarize the good advice that is threaded through the book: if you are miserable, try changing. Just because you've always done something a certain way doesn't mean you are eternally doomed to repeat it, people can change and grow and learn. The self is flexible. Social skills, like any skills, can be learned, studied, and honed. It's better to take a risk and throw yourself out there than to waste your life accruing bitter regrets. The only way to learn new skills is to be willing to experiment and fail and sometimes look foolish, but if you stick with it and pay attention and get good advice and mentoring, you will get better at it eventually and be glad that you had the patience and balls to move out of your crippling little box. Our society is filled with women and men who are lonely and bored and stuck and who want desperately to connect and live and have fun but don't know how to get there. The sad thing about the book is that it documents the tragic lack of vision in people who settle for the shallow, canned interactions of casual sex rather than taking a real risk with full, authentic relationships.


Oh wow, hard to say if I'm horrified or fascinated or what. I guess some of both. Good thing I'm reading this for book club cuz I can't wait to discuss. I can't believe this is for real. And then what I'm wondering is, what are girls supposed to do? Just sit there and look pretty? Hmm. But here's some quotes I liked:"In life, people tend to wait for good things to come to them. And by waiting, they miss out. Usually, what you wish for doesn't fall in your lap; it falls somewhere nearby, and you have to recognize it, stand up, and put in the time and work it takes to get it. This isn't because the universe is cruel. It's because the universe is smart. It has its own cat-string theory and knows we don't appreciate things that fall into our laps." (p 114)"We have the idea that love is supposed to last forever. But love isn't like that. It's a free-flowing energy that comes and goes when it pleases. Sometimes it stays for life; other times it stays for a second, a day, a month, or a year. So don't fear love when it comes simply because it makes you vulnerable. But don't be surprised when it leaves, either. Just be glad you had the opportunity to experience it." (p 193)"And building a lifestyle is cumulative. Everything you do counts and brings you closer to your goal. The right lifestyle is something that is worn, not discussed." (p 252)

Kelsea Dawn Hume

I read this to learn how to write manipulative characters more convincingly. It was slightly helpful, but I was mostly struck by the pathetic nature of literally everyone in the book. For people who devoted themselves to getting women they sure didn't have much sex. I suspect Strauss may have meant this book to be an object lesson about how pathetic you become if you are unable to think of half of the population as people. If so, his message was utterly confused by the pseudo-dating guide structure. Either way this book contributes to rape culture in very real ways. If you use this book as a guide to dating you will probably end up raping someone. Just saying.

Kater Cheek

I've been fascinated about the idea of a pickup artist community ever since I heard about its existence last year. What do these people do? Does it work? Why? This was the book seen as the essential guide to this underground lair of secret lotharios, written by seminal pickup artist guru "Style" who published an article about the scene in the NYT a few years ago. However, this book was wasn't available from the library, so I read THE MYSTERY METHOD first.Then a friend got a copy of this book back from the guy he'd lent it to. I kind of smirked when I saw he'd disguised it in the dustjacket of a more benign novel. I smirked less when I found myself flipping to the back of the dust jacket in an attempt to see what Style (aka Neil Strauss) looked like, only to see the picture of Umberto Eco. My curiosity at his looks stemmed largely from the fact that Style, like Mystery, claims to be able to sleep with any woman he wants.I'm glad I read THE MYSTERY METHOD first, because there are a lot of terms unique to the pickup artist culture. In fact, there's a glossary, but the glossary didn't cover every term I wanted (evolution phase shift?) Even so, there were so many people out "sarging" (picking up girls) that they developed their own styles and terminology to go with it.The story is basically how Style met Mystery, learned to pick up women, got good at it, rose to the apex of what they though possible, and watched as everything crashed and burned around them. This is a comfortable and successful plot arc, which has been used for everything from crime to gambling to alcohol and drug addiction. Two things made this story compelling. One, Style is an actual writer. Two, most of the characters (especially Mystery) are complete train wrecks.This book reminded me of WAR (Junger) and EASY COMPANY SOLDIER (Malarkey) in that like frontline combat, pickup artist circles are an exclusively men-only arena, and nothing intrigues me more than a "keep out! no girls allowed!" sign. At one point, they interview Heidi Fleiss, and say that she's "one of them" but I didn't buy it. In fact, as the story progresses to the point where Style, Mystery, and the other pickup artist gurus are living in a mansion in Hollywood, Style points out that "Project Hollywood" (the name for their bachelor pad) is remarkably devoid of women. He got into the game to meet women, but ended up with a band of brothers, who became a band of frenemies.Although it's not a how-to book by any means, this memoir fleshed out the dry how-to of THE MYSTERY METHOD fairly well. They briefly touch on other techniques, for example, woo-woo "waking hypnosis" where you get the "target" (attractive female) to conjure up happy/aroused feelings, and partner them with a gesture, word, or kinesthetic motion, then use that trigger to re-conjure those feelings. Another technique is "cocky funny" where the pick up artist jokingly and confidently assumes that every woman wants him. Most of the other techniques were varieties on the Mystery method. When you get down to it, the fact that these work is not mysterious. They all pretty much boil down to the fact that women like confident, powerful, interesting men who pay attention to her. Duh. Saying that women are helpless before this is like saying that men are helpless in the face of big sexy hair and giant tits.One of the side effects of being a successful pickup artist, some of the men lament, is that they no longer trust women to ever be faithful. It didn't matter if their target was married or had a boyfriend, they still got phone numbers. (To this I'd say, it's hard to say that "all women are unfaithful" if your sample selection is "attractive, urban, young women drinking in bars or clubs." )They also became mysogynistic once they realized how easy it was to pick up women with a few simple lines. I've heard similar things from women who lost a lot of weight--that the instant uptick in attention makes them feel disdainful of how shallow men were. Another disadvantage was that sarging soon took over the rest of their lives. They no longer had jobs or hobbies or even girlfriends, as their lives were so consumed with going out to hunt for new targets. Style and the other pick up artists soon realized what every addict eventually realizes--that even sleeping with a different beautiful woman every night won't make up for deep underlying problems you are too afraid to face.As the story progresses and Mystery and Style become richer and more famous, they become killed by their own success. New students use their material to the point that they can't find a woman who hasn't heard it. The inner coterie of pick up artists act more and more like rock stars, until strange people are wandering in and out, the drama escalates to MTV levels, and at one point even Courtney Love moves in. Ironically, Courtney occasionally comes out as one of the most emotionally mature people in the house, which really says something.The novel winds up with a happy "here's what they're doing now" ending for most of the main characters--most of which I don't believe. Even Style ends up happy and leaving the scene, after he meets a gorgeous woman named Lisa who won't fall for his schtick. His attempts to seduce her fail and fail and fail again, until he gets one-itis that he breaks it off with every other woman to commit to Lisa. I'd feel less cynical about the ending if I hadn't recognized her "hook a man and land him" strategy. I think she got it from THE RULES.

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.


This book addicted me even before I owned it. I found it on the floor of a friend's house and devoured two chapters before I ran to Borders to get it for myself. Then I found myself staying up till all hours to finish it, taking notes, chatting with friends about it, and reading everything the author put out. And I'm a woman.I didn't find it offensive, ridiculous, or prurient, I found it a nice tasty behavioral anthropological meal. At the same time, I didn't pity or laugh at the guys pictured inside. Real social pressures were at play on everyone involved, and Strauss depicted all his subjects with brotherly affection. Even the women, who a lesser writer would have objectified completely, were treated with respect and fairness. He's honest about his feelings for them, or lack thereof. It struck me a break-neck epic full of anti-heroes (and anti-heroines) all competing for love, sex, and glory, and I ate it up.

Share your thoughts

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