Book Review: ‘How to Use Your Enemies’ by Baltasar Graciàn

I bought this book a few years ago when Penguin started publishing these small, and very affordable, black books. I bought several, including this book by a Spanish priest and author, Baltasar Graciàn, who lived from 1601 to 1658. Honestly, I’d never heard of him before.
Other reviews I read were somewhat disparaging, opining that it was Machiavellian. Whilst this may be true for some of the topics, I nevertheless found this was a brilliantly timeless, thought-provoking, and enlightening Baroque read. There were so many bits I highlighted, but especially this one (which really struck a chord with me given certain events in my life last week- hello Twitter pile-on!).

Take care when gathering information. We live mainly on information. We see very little for ourselves and live on others’ testimony. Hearing is truth’s last entry point, and a lie’s first. Truth is normally seen and rarely heard. It rarely reaches us unadulterated, especially when it comes from far off. It is always tinged with the emotions through which it has passed. Passion tints everything it touches, making it odious or pleasing. It always tries to make an impression, so consider carefully a person offering praise, and even more so someone uttering abuse.

I really enjoyed this book. When I like an author, I tend to try to read everything else they’ve written (if possible), so I’ve just bought this book:

Have you read any of Gracián’s work before? If so, what were your thoughts? Do share below!

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Hear ye! 2 thoughts — so far — on “Book Review: ‘How to Use Your Enemies’ by Baltasar Graciàn”:

  1. Sally Johnson

    I find Gracien very practical in his advice. I was expecting a lot of Roman Catholic double-speak, but instead found a year’s worth of mostly insightful wisdom. I think he might have gotten the idea from Sir Francis Bacon????

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