A Review of 48 Laws of Power: Is it Worth the Read?

Are you interested in diving into the depths of power and influence? In Robert Greene’s iconic book, The 48 Laws of Power, readers uncover a no-nonsense compilation of laws that serve as valuable tools to help identify and exploit power dynamics. Through witty stories sprinkled throughout history and practical advice on dealing with people through understanding how they wield their power ambitions, this philosophical guide aims to offer insight into the “unspoken laws” of self-empowerment. But is 48 Laws worth your read? Is it still relevant today? Keep reading to find out what I thought after putting this classic work under my own microscope!

Table of Contents

Overview of 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

If you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of power dynamics and human behaviour, then Robert Greene’s “48 Laws of Power” is the perfect place to start. This book spares no expense in offering a glimpse into the cunning and often ruthless tactics employed by the most successful people in history. But don’t let that scare you away, dear reader. While some of the laws may seem manipulative or even unethical, they are presented in a way that allows you to see the psychology behind them. It’s like peeking behind the curtain and seeing the wizard at work. So grab a copy, settle in, and prepare to have your mind blown (and maybe even a little bit frightened) by the machinations of power.

Exploring the Different Laws in The 48 Laws Of Power, and How They Apply to Modern Life

The 48 Laws of Power may have been written centuries ago, but the lessons within its pages are still relevant to modern life. From “Never Outshine the Master” to “Law 48: Assume Formlessness,” each law offers insights on how to navigate the complex world of power dynamics. As someone who has personally applied these laws in my own life, I can attest to their effectiveness. But don’t let the title scare you away – this book isn’t just for those seeking power at all costs. It’s for anyone who wants to better understand the dynamics of human relationships, whether in personal or professional settings. So go ahead, read the book and see how the laws can help you wield power with finesse and grace.

What The 48 Laws Of Power Can Teach You About Gaining and Managing Power

We all want it: power. Whether it’s gaining it or managing it, there’s something inherently enticing about having control. Enter The 48 Laws of Power, a book that’s been making the rounds amongst businesspeople and entrepreneurs alike for years. Some may call it manipulative, but I call it insightful. With chapter titles like “Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions” and “Law 11: Learn to Keep People Dependent on You,” it’s clear that author Robert Greene is all about playing the long game when it comes to power. And hey, in a world where everyone’s vying for control, it never hurts to have a few tricks up your sleeve.

Analysing the Pros and Cons of Reading 48 Laws of Power

If you’re looking for a book that will challenge your worldview and make you question everything you know about power dynamics, then look no further than “48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. But beware, this book is not for the faint of heart. It’s a collection of Machiavellian tactics and strategies used by historical figures, recounted in a blunt and unapologetic tone. On the one hand, it’s a fascinating study of human nature and the lengths people will go to seize and maintain power. On the other hand, it can be a dangerous guidebook for those who seek to manipulate and deceive others. So, while I highly recommend “48 Laws of Power” for its insights and entertainment value, I also advise readers to approach it with caution and a healthy dose of skepticism.

Examining the Unconventional Wisdom Offered in the Book The 48 Laws Of Power

Let’s talk about The 48 Laws of Power. If you haven’t picked up this book yet, you’re missing out on some juicy, unconventional wisdom. It’s the type of book that’ll give you a surge of confidence, but also leave you feeling a bit uneasy about the world. The author, Robert Greene, breaks down how power dynamics work by examining historical figures and their successes (and failures). Some of the “laws” might seem a bit devious, but they can be useful in certain situations. Overall, it’s worth the read if you’re looking for a fresh perspective on human behaviour and how power really works. Just don’t go using all 48 laws at once, unless you want to end up as a full-blown villain.

My Final Thoughts – Is The 48 Laws Of Power Worth the Read or Not ?

As a self-help junkie, I’ve come across my fair share of books that promise to unlock the secrets to success and power. And let me tell you, not all of them are created equal. But the 48 Laws of Power is one that stands out – for better or for worse. It’s a controversial book, to say the least. Some see it as a manual for manipulation and deceit, while others swear by its teachings. Personally, I think it’s worth the read – but not for the reasons you might think. Sure, the laws themselves can be useful in certain situations. But what’s more valuable is the insight the book gives into human nature and the way power dynamics work. So, my final verdict? Give it a chance, but approach it with a critical eye and a healthy dose of skepticism.

Take A Look At The List Of Laws: The 48 Laws of Power

48 laws of power

1. Never Outshine the Master

This law is all about understanding the importance of being aware of your place. Never attempt to outshine or be better than those in positions of power, such as your boss or supervisor. Conceal your talents and abilities as much as possible when in the presence of those in higher positions, because trying to demonstrate that you are smarter can make them feel threatened and inadvertently lead to their resentment.

2. Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends, Learn How to Use Enemies

It is vital that we never put too much trust in our friends, as they are often motivated by envy and can betray us. It is far wiser to use enemies for our own advantage. Hiring an enemy can be a very effective tool, as it gives them the opportunity to demonstrate their loyalty and prove that they can be trusted.

3. Conceal Your Intentions

If you want to succeed in life, it is essential to keep your true intentions hidden. By keeping a veil of secrecy over your ambitions, you can prevent others from seeing your plans and forming a response that could potentially disrupt them. This tactic of concealment is particularly important in competitive environments where opponents may use any insight into your strategies against you.

4. Always Say Less Than Necessary

When it comes to getting ahead in life, the old adage holds true that “less is more”. Speaking less than necessary can be a powerful tool when it comes to achieving success. By being concise and thoughtful with your words, you can convey your points without getting bogged down in unnecessary details or revealing too much information. This allows you to stay focused on your goal while conveying only what is relevant. Additionally, fewer words mean less chance of saying something you may regret, as well as limiting any potential misunderstandings that may arise from a lack of clarity. Finally, by speaking with precision and using language with higher semantic richness, you can create an aura of knowledge and authority that others are naturally drawn to.

5. So Much Depends on Reputation—Guard It With Your Life

Reputation is an essential part of acquiring and maintaining power, as Robert Greene accurately states in the fifth law of power. Without a strong reputation, you will find it nearly impossible to get people to follow you and respect your decisions. As such, protecting your own reputation should be taken with utmost seriousness, as if it were your own life. You must consider all consequences of your actions or words carefully before doing anything that could compromise your good name. Additionally, any opportunity to damage the reputations of those who oppose you should be taken advantage of; much can be achieved by destroying someone’s standing in their social circle or professional realm. By safeguarding and exploiting your own and others’ reputations, you will have a powerful tool in achieving success in any endeavour; in essence, repetitional capital is just as valuable – if not more so – than tangible wealth or resources.

6. Court Attention at All Costs

When it comes to power, courting attention is a must. Drawing the spotlight to yourself is one of the most effective ways of increasing your influence, as it gives you an advantage over those who remain in the shadows.

7. Get Others to Do the Work for You, But Always Take the Credit

When it comes to wielding power, one of the most important lessons is to delegate tasks to others and let them do the work for you. Utilising the knowledge and wisdom of those around you can be a great asset in achieving success. And even though it may be tempting to take credit for all of your accomplishments, it’s important to recognise the contributions made by those who worked for you. By doing so, not only will you show appreciation for their efforts, but also demonstrate pragmatic leadership skills.

8. Make Other People Come to You—Use Bait if Necessary

When looking to gain power over an opponent, it’s important to make them come to you rather than vice versa. This can be achieved through baiting – setting a trap that is so tempting and desirable that they cannot resist it. Once they are in your grasp, you have the ability to control the situation as you please.

9. Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument

The truth is that words alone cannot fully demonstrate the power of one’s will or the determination to attain their goals. To truly command respect and influence those around you, it is essential to take decisive action. Controlling a situation through physical actions rather than verbal arguments proves your strength and authority in any given context.

10. Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky

If you find yourself surrounded by people who are constantly unhappy and unlucky, it is best to distance yourself from them. This type of negative energy can have a detrimental effect on your life, draining your motivation and forcing you to focus on the bad instead of the good. Instead, seek out positive people who will support and encourage you in achieving your goals.

11. Learn to Keep People Dependent on You

Make sure those you rely on become dependent on you: give them the opportunity to be successful, but make sure they need your guidance, assistance and advice in order to accomplish their goals. This way, they will always be looking to you for direction and will never consider going against or beyond what you have established.

12. Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm Your Victim

Choose selectively when to be honest and generous, as it will disarm those who may suspect your true motives. Robert Greene states that “the essence of deception is distraction” – by performing an honest gesture, you can draw attention away from your devious intentions and carry out what needs to be done unnoticed.

13. When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to Their Mercy or Gratitude

When seeking assistance, make sure to outline how the other person stands to gain from helping you; individuals will be more likely to willingly cooperate if they are aware of the advantages they can enjoy thanks to their support.

14. Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy

To gain an advantage over someone, it is wise to pose as a friend while secretly working as a spy; get close enough to learn their secrets and use that information against them when the time is right. Be sure to gather all the facts and details, using higher semantic richness for maximum effect.

15. Crush Your Enemy Totally

When you have the chance, destroy your enemies completely. Show them no mercy, and they’ll be less likely to try to cross you in the future.

16. Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honour

By using strategic absences, you can create an aura of power and mystique around yourself that will make people respect and honour you more. People tend to appreciate what they miss, so by taking breaks from the spotlight and occasionally leaving them wanting more, you can increase their admiration for you and enhance your reputation.

17. Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability

Manipulate those around you by creating an aura of unpredictability; don’t let them be sure of your next move or how you will react to certain situations. By doing so, they will remain in a state of constant anxiety, increasing your power to bend them to your will.

18. Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself— Isolation is Dangerous

By secluding yourself from the outside world, you will be denying yourself access to vital resources and knowledge that could help you anticipate, prepare for, and defend against potential threats. Furthermore, your lack of awareness and understanding of the ever-changing environment around you can leave you exposed to enemies who take advantage of the power imbalance.

19. Know Who You’re Dealing With— Don’t Offend the Wrong Person

Before engaging with someone, it is important to research and evaluate who they are and what they represent in order to ensure that you do not offend or run into trouble with the wrong person; this could potentially lead to dire consequences.

20. Do Not Commit to Anyone

It is essential to maintain your independence and avoid committing to anyone else, as this will make you appear invincible and inspire respect from those around you, while also allowing you to focus on your own individual goals and ambitions.

21. Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker— Appear Dumber Than Your Mark

By feigning ignorance and appearing less intelligent than your mark, you create a false sense of security while allowing them to underestimate the strategic advantage you possess. This allows you to gain information and make decisions that could prove beneficial without alerting them to your intentions.

22. Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness into Power

By leveraging the Surrender Tactic, those in positions of relative weakness can use their lack of control to their advantage. By temporarily relinquishing power, they can gain more strategic insight into what moves their opponent may make and plan accordingly. This gives them the opportunity to reassert power once they have the leverage and resources necessary to do so.

23. Concentrate Your Forces

Focus your time, energy and resources on a single goal at once; this will increase the chances of achieving success while ensuring that nothing goes to waste.

24. Play the Perfect Courtier

Be the ideal courtier – always strive to please those in power, while humbly controlling those beneath you; never let them perceive your hidden motives and act with graciousness, charm and eloquence so that they may become enamoured with you.

25. Re-Create Yourself

Stay away from controversial activities and allow others to shoulder the responsibility for them; this will give you the opportunity to preserve your reputation and keep yourself away from any subsequent consequences.

26. Keep Your Hands Clean

27. Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cult-Like Following

By leveraging people’s need to be part of something bigger than themselves, you can cultivate an undying devotion among your followers. By providing them with a sense of purpose and identity, you can create a powerful cult-like community that is willing to go to great lengths in support of your cause.

28. Enter Action with Boldness

Act with decisiveness and confidence; embrace risk-taking, as it will demonstrate to others your courage and strength of character, inspiring admiration and respect.

29. Plan All the Way to the End

To truly gain and maintain power, one must plan ahead for the long-term consequences of any action taken; this requires comprehensive assessment of potential outcomes and preparation for them in advance to ensure that all bases are covered.

30. Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless

An effective way to appear more talented than you are is to conceal the effort you put into something and make it seem like it came naturally – this will not only make your accomplishments appear effortless, but also give them a greater impact.

31. Control the Options: Get Others to Play with the Cards You Deal

By carefully selecting the options that are presented to others, it is possible to manipulate their decision making process. By presenting only pre-determined choices, one can lead people in a desired direction while making them believe they have arrived at the conclusion independently. This way, individuals remain unaware of the power dynamics at play and are more likely to accept the outcome.

32. Play Into People’s Fantasies

People need to be empowered and made to feel special. Help them do this by building a connection with them so they believe that you understand them better than anyone else. This will make them more likely to accept your guidance and be devoted to your cause.

33. Discover Each Person’s Thumbscrew

Everyone has a unique motivation or weakness that can be used against them to manipulate their decisions. People tend to become overwhelmed and distracted when faced with something they care deeply about, thus making it easier for someone else to gain power over them.

34. Be Royal in Your Own Fashion: Act like a King to Be Treated Like One

To demonstrate your leadership status, it’s essential to present yourself with poise and confidence. People will be more likely to follow your direction if they recognise you as an authority figure with high status.

35. Master the Art of Timing

Know the best moment to act by studying the situation and recognising potential opportunities. Timing is critical to maximising your influence and achieving success, so be sure to carefully consider when to make your move.

36. Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Them Gives You Power

It’s important to remember the Law of Disdain: don’t waste your energy on something you cannot obtain. Instead, demonstrate your strength and power by demonstrating a lack of attachment to something you desire. This attitude reinforces your status and builds confidence.

37. Create Compelling Spectacles

Creating remarkable spectacles will always have a lasting impact on your audience. By carefully crafting a show that is grand and extravagantly designed, you can command attention and influence the behaviour of those present in any situation.

38. Think as You Like But Behave Like Others

No matter your beliefs, understand that it is wise to act in a way that is expected and accepted by the majority. This will give you a greater ability to influence those around you, as they will view you as being just like them and thus more easily influenced.

39. Stir Up Waters to Catch Fish

By stirring up waters, one can increase their chances of success. This is done by creating chaos, giving people a distraction from one’s own plans and activities, allowing them to take advantage of the confusion and grab the opportunities that arise.

40. Despise the Free Lunch

Never accept something for free, as it implies that someone has power over you. Show that you are in control and don’t be taken advantage of by refusing to take the ‘free lunch’–be it money, favors, or any other form of compensation.

41. Avoid Stepping Into a Great Man’s Shoes

Don’t attempt to take on the mantle of someone more powerful than you; you will never be able to fully meet their expectations, and people will inevitably doubt your legitimacy. Instead, forge your own path to power by carefully considering the choices you make and pursuing your goals with unwavering determination.

42. Strike the Shepherd, and the Sheep will Scatter

By eliminating a leader of a group, it can cause disarray and confusion amongst its members. This allows for the power to be redistributed to those who have taken out the leader, enabling them to gain greater control over the situation. Furthermore, without a leader to guide the group, its followers are more likely to scatter and become vulnerable targets for those with an agenda of power.

43. Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others

To achieve your goals, it is essential to cultivate relationships with others and gain their trust. By doing so, you can form an emotional connection and influence their opinions, allowing you to shape their behavior and decisions.

44. Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect

The Mirror Effect is a powerful tool employed to disarm and enrage an opponent. By reflecting their own negative qualities back onto them, you can strip away their sense of power and control, leading them to become filled with indignation and rage.

45. Preach the Need for Change but Never Reform Too Much at Once

In order to successfully implement lasting change, it is important to remember that people are naturally resistant to rapid or sweeping reforms. Consequently, it is best to start by clearly communicating the need for change and then gradually introduce smaller modifications over time. By taking this more incremental approach, you will be able to ensure acceptance of the reforms without provoking an overwhelming backlash.

46. Never Appear Too Perfect

If you come across as too perfect, it can be intimidating to others and they may not be so willing to accept your authority or follow your lead. By showing that you have flaws and weaknesses, it reinforces their impression that you are just like them and establishes trust. Being vulnerable can also encourage others to open up and share their own experiences in order to help find a solution. Attempting to appear too perfect is often viewed negatively, since it can seem like an attempt at controlling the situation or people around you. People admire those who can admit their mistakes, learn from them and move on—this illustrates strength of character more than always seeming perfect on the surface. The key is to present yourself in a confident yet humble way—not too perfect, but certainly capable and reliable.

47. Do Not Go Past the Mark You Aimed For; In Victory, Learn When to Stop

When it comes to achieving success and obtaining power, it is important to recognize when enough is enough. Going beyond the initial mark that you have set for yourself can often be seen as a sign of arrogance and greed, thus alienating potential allies and garnering resentment from others. Knowing when to stop will not only benefit your reputation but will also help you maintain control over your resources. It is far easier to hold on to what you have than having to try reclaim what has been lost after striving too hard for too much. Therefore, take stock of the situation and understand that sometimes, less really is more – in victory, learn when to stop!

48. Assume Formlessness

The ability to assume formlessness is an effective tool of power. When people are unable to predict your behaviour or see a clear pattern in your actions, they have to expend more energy trying to control you. This is particularly useful when engaging in power struggles with other individuals, as it gives you the upper hand by making it harder for them to gain leverage over you. By avoiding consistency and maintaining flexibility, you can create an environment of uncertainty that makes it difficult for them to plan their next move.

How can one use the 48 Laws of Power to gain influence and power?

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene is a powerful tool for gaining influence and power. The laws provide guidance on how to acquire and maintain control in any situation, from the boardroom to everyday life. The principles in the book stress being aware of people’s nature, building connections with others, reigning over feelings and exploiting techniques such as flattery or trickery if required. By applying these laws strategically, individuals can gain an advantage over their competition while maintaining integrity at all times.

What is the importance of understanding the consequences outlined in each law from The 48 Laws of Power?

The 48 Laws of Power provide an important framework for understanding the consequences of our actions. By being aware of the potential repercussions, we can make more informed decisions and be better prepared to handle any challenges that may arise. Anticipating issues before they occur can give us a strategic edge, enabling us to act decisively and with assurance in order to realize our objectives. Ultimately, mastering The 48 Laws of Power provides invaluable insight into how power works in all aspects of life – from business dealings to interpersonal relationships.

How does mastering The 48 Laws of Power help one become successful in life?

Mastering The 48 Laws of Power can help one become successful in life by teaching them the fundamentals of power, influence, and persuasion. It provides an understanding of how to use these tools to gain control over any situation or relationship. These laws provide insight into human behavior so that one can effectively navigate their way through difficult conversations and circumstances with ease. Additionally, honing these regulations can boost one’s assurance as it educates them to identify when they are being taken advantage of or controlled while furnishing them with the capabilities essential for making powerful choices that will drive them towards triumph.

In what ways can an individual apply The 48 Laws of Power to their own personal development journey?

The 48 Laws of Power provide a comprehensive framework for personal development. From the law of power itself, to the laws of timing and strategy, each law can be applied to an individual’s journey towards self-improvement. For example, understanding the concept that “power is never given; it must be taken” encourages individuals to take initiative in their own lives and strive for success. The laws also emphasise being mindful of one’s environment when making decisions or taking action – recognising opportunities as they arise and adapting quickly accordingly. Ultimately, by utilising these concepts consistently, individuals can gain understanding into the most effective way to approach their own life journeys with trust and lucidity.

48 laws of power

The 48 Laws of Power may seem old-fashioned or outdated at first glance, but they contain a great deal of powerful wisdom that is still relevant today. Yes, it might be seen as manipulative and underhanded advice – but this book can offer insight into obtaining and managing power in creative ways, if viewed with an open mind. Whether you are looking to seize control of your life or simply expand your understanding of how power works, Greene’s classic book is worth the read. The tips and tricks offered in these pages are intriguingly unconventional, enlightening and downright wise – though sometimes it appears to fly in the face of our moral compass. To gain greater insight into the psychology behind acquiring and keeping power in our ever more chaotic world, I definitely recommend reading 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene.

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Same! One of my favourites definitely xx

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book review of 48 laws of power

Book Review: The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

book review of 48 laws of power

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book review of 48 laws of power

  • Title:  The 48 Laws of Power
  • Author: Robert Greene
  • About the author: Robert Greene is a renowned author who has produced multiple New York Times bestsellers (books shared below in summary). His books have reached millions of people across the globe. Greene attended U.C. Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he received a degree in classical studies. Through his books, you can see that he puts his degree to use.
  • Published: 2000
  • Link to book

High-Level Summary

The 48 Laws of Power is a multi-million-copy New York Times bestseller, written by Robert Greene. Robert Greene has written several other popular books including The Laws of Human Nature , Mastery , The Art of Seduction , The 33 Strategies of War , and The 50th Law .

By far, his most popular book is The 48 Laws of Power . It is a book that is recommended by nearly anyone in the business & entrepreneurship fields. Its wild popularity comes from a mix of Robert Greene’s genius writing and the fact that humans naturally want power.

Greene states in the Preface, “The feeling of having no power over people and events is generally unbearable to us—when we feel helpless we feel miserable.” He mentions how no one wants less power; everyone wants more power.

Thus, he wrote The 48 Laws of Power as a “handbook on the arts of indirection.” The 48 laws come from wisdom gathered from individuals spanning over 3,000 years of history. These individuals include strategists (Sun-tzu, Clausewitz), statesmen (Bismarck, Talleyrand), courtiers (Castiglione, Gracián), seducers (Ninon de Lenclos, Casanova), and con artists (“Yellow Kid” Weil).

The book will explain, through its laws, that certain actions almost always increase one’s power, while others decrease power or ultimately ruin it.

A focus of the text, and essential to gaining power, is that power is a social game. To learn and master the game, it’s essential that you develop the ability to study and understand people. You need empathy to understand what others may be thinking, wanting, plotting, and feeling.

According to Greene, the most important skill to have, which is foundational to power, is the ability to master your own emotions. He writes, “An emotional response to a situation is the single greatest barrier to power.”

The 48 laws have a Machiavellian theme to them, characterized by words like cunning, sneaky, scheming, and cutthroat. This doesn’t mean that you have to embody these traits, but the game of power requires a shift of perspective and a different way of looking at the world.

WANT TO LISTEN TO THIS BOOK FOR FREE?

Recommendation.

If you are interested in gaining, observing, or defending against power, this book is for you.

Robert Greene wrote a fantastic book that is thought-provoking, entertaining, and instructive. By reading this book, you’ll not only have guidance on how to acquire power, but you will know how to spot power tactics and defend yourself against those trying to overpower or deceive you. 

These are valuable skills to have for your life and career.

Related Reading:

  • Book Review: 12 Rules For Life by Jordan B. Peterson
  • Book Review: Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
  • Book Review: The Little Book of Stoicism by Jonas Salzgeber
  • Book Review: Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

Top 30 Takeaways

* In no particular order

1. It’s dangerous to seem too power-hungry in today’s world. So we need to be subtle. Everything must appear civilized, decent, democratic, and fair. Power moves need to be made indirectly.

2. Those who claim to be nonplayers may affect an air of naïveté, to protect them from the accusation that they are after power. You can recognize these supposed nonplayers by the way they flaunt their moral qualities, their piety, their exquisite sense of justice.

3. If the world is like a giant scheming court and we are trapped inside it, there is no use in trying to opt out of the game. That will only render you powerless, and powerlessness will make you miserable. Instead of struggling against the inevitable, instead of arguing and whining and feeling guilty, it is far better to excel at power.

4. The most important of these skills, and power’s crucial foundation, is the ability to master your emotions. An emotional response to a situation is the single greatest barrier to power, a mistake that will cost you a lot more than any temporary satisfaction you might gain by expressing your feelings. Anger is the most destructive of emotional responses, for it clouds your vision the most.

5. Power requires the ability to play with appearances. You must learn to wear many masks and keep a bag full of deceptive tricks.

6. Half of your mastery of power comes from what you do not do, what you do not allow yourself to get dragged into.

7. Power is a social game. To learn and master it, you must develop the ability to study and understand people.

8. Consider The 48 Laws of Power a kind of handbook on the arts of indirection.

9. Law 1 – Never Outshine the Master: Always make those above you feel comfortably superior. In your desire to please and impress them, do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might accomplish the opposite—inspire fear, resentment, and insecurity. All masters want to appear more brilliant than other people.

10. Law 2 – Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends, Learn How to Use Enemies: Be wary of friends—they will betray you more quickly, for they are easily aroused to envy. In fact, you have more to fear from friends than from enemies. Since honesty rarely strengthens friendship, you may never know how a friend truly feels. Without enemies around us, we grow lazy.

11. Law 3 – Conceal Your Intentions: Keep people off-balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions. If they have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense. It takes effort to control your tongue and monitor what you reveal.

12. Law 4 – Always Say Less Than Necessary: Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish. In most areas of life, the less you say, the more profound and mysterious you appear.

13. Law 5 – So Much Depends on Reputation – Guard it With Your Life: Reputation is the cornerstone of power. Through reputation alone you can intimidate and win; once it slips, however, you are vulnerable, and will be attacked on all sides. As they say, your reputation inevitably precedes you.

14. Law 9 – Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument: It is much more powerful to get others to agree with you through your actions, without saying a word. Demonstrate, do not explicate.

15. Law 10 – Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky: In the game of power, the people you associate with are critical. The unfortunate sometimes draw misfortune on themselves; they will also draw it on you. Associate with the happy and fortunate instead.

16. Law 11 – Learn to Keep People Dependent On You: To maintain your independence you must always be needed and wanted. The more you are relied on, the more freedom you have. Make people depend on you for their happiness and prosperity and you have nothing to fear. Never teach them enough so that they can do without you.

17. Law 13 – When Asking For Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to Their Mercy or Gratitude: If you need to turn to an ally for help, do not bother to remind him of your past assistance and good deeds. Instead, uncover something in your request that will benefit him, and emphasize it out of all proportion.

18. Law 16 – Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor: Too much circulation makes the price go down: The more you are seen and heard from, the more common you appear. If you are already established in a group, temporary withdrawal from it will make you more talked about, even more admired. You must learn when to leave. Create value through scarcity.

19. Law 19 – Know Who You’re Dealing With: There are many different kinds of people in the world, and you can never assume that everyone will react to your strategies in the same way. The ability to measure people and to know who you’re dealing with is the most important skill of all in gathering and conserving power.

20. Law 23 – Concentrate Your Forces: Conserve your forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at their strongest point. Intensity defeats extensity every time. The mind must not wander from goal to goal, or be distracted by success from its sense of purpose and proportion.

21. Law 24 – Play the Perfect Courtier: The perfect courtier thrives in a world where everything revolves around power and political dexterity. He has mastered the art of indirection; he flatters, yields to superiors, and asserts power over others in the most oblique and graceful manner. Learn and apply the laws of courtiership and there will be no limit to how far you can rise in the court.

22. Law 25 – Re-Create Yourself: Do not accept the roles that society foists on you. Re-create yourself by forging a new identity, one that commands attention and never bores the audience. Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define it for you. Working on yourself like clay should be one of your greatest and most pleasurable life tasks.

23. Law 29 – Plan All The Way to the End: The ending is everything. Plan all the way to it, taking into account all the possible consequences, obstacles, and twists of fortune that might reverse your hard work and give the glory to others. By planning to the end you will not be overwhelmed by circumstances and you will know when to stop.

24. Law 32 – Play To People’s Fantasies: The truth is often avoided because it is ugly and unpleasant. Never appeal to truth and reality unless you are prepared for the anger that comes from disenchantment. Life is so harsh and distressing that people who can manufacture romance or conjure up fantasy are like oases in the desert: Everyone flocks to them.

25. Law 35 – Master the Art of Timing: Always seem patient, as if you know that everything will come to you eventually. Become a detective of the right moment; sniff out the spirit of the times, the trends that will carry you to power. Learn to stand back when the time is not yet ripe, and to strike fiercely when it has reached fruition.

26. Law 38 – Think As Your Like But Behave Like Others: It is far safer to blend in and nurture the common touch. Share your originality only with tolerant friends and those who are sure to appreciate your uniqueness. Image: The Black Sheep. The herd shuns the black sheep, uncertain whether or not it belongs with them.

27. Law 41 – Avoid Stepping Into a Great Man’s Shoes: What happens first always appears better and more original than what comes after. If you succeed a great man or have a famous parent, you will have to accomplish double their achievements to outshine them.

28. Law 43 – Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others: You must seduce others into wanting to move in your direction. And the way to seduce others is to operate on their individual psychologies and weaknesses. The key to persuasion is softening people up and breaking them down, gently.

29. Law 46 – Never Appear Too Perfect: Appearing better than others is always dangerous, but most dangerous of all is to appear to have no faults or weaknesses. Envy creates silent enemies. It is smart to occasionally display defects, and admit to harmless vices, in order to deflect envy and appear more human and approachable.

30. Law 48 – Assume Formlessness: By taking a shape, by having a visible plan, you open yourself to attack. Instead of taking a form for your enemy to grasp, keep yourself adaptable and on the move. The best way to protect yourself is to be as fluid and formless as water. Power can only thrive if it is flexible in its forms.

What I Liked

  • Machiavellian way of looking seeing things
  • Uses a sprawling variety of stories from history
  • Quotes, parables, and metaphors provide additional context and entertainment
  • Prescriptive, handbook-style writing in “Keys to Power” sections
  • Provides reversals to each law at the end of the chapters

Benefits To Your Life and Career

48 tools to use in the game of power.

With this handbook you have, you essentially have over 48 tools to use in the game of power. You may not remember all 48 at any given time, but hopefully you’ll internalize most of them.

Any time you find yourself in a situation where power is being played, you can refer back to this book. A refresher can help you identify the elements at play and the lessons can show you how taking one path or another may go.

Just as good for defense as it is for offense: Acquire power and stay in power

The 48 Laws of Power isn’t just a book all about offense. This book is about defense too. Sure, you’ll learn how to acquire power, but will you keep it? Many will argue that staying in power is what’s hard. Robert Greene will point out what you can do and what pitfalls you should avoid.

Additionally, you’ll be able to defend yourself when power tactics are being used against you. They’ll catch your eye and you’ll see right through the individual. This happens all the time in your professional life. You can’t be naïve to it.

The 48 Laws of Power can be found on Amazon at this link here if you are interested in reading.

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THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

by Robert Greene ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 1998

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR | PHILOSOPHY & RELIGION | PSYCHOLOGY | HISTORICAL & MILITARY | GENERAL BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR

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THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

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by Robert Greene

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

Notes on the first 150 years in america.

by Ta-Nehisi Coates ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 8, 2015

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates ( The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood , 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR | UNITED STATES | HISTORY | CURRENT EVENTS & SOCIAL ISSUES | ETHNICITY & RACE

More by Ta-Nehisi Coates

THE BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE (ADAPTED FOR YOUNG ADULTS)

by Ta-Nehisi Coates ; illustrated by Jackie Aher

THE WATER DANCER

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

WE WERE EIGHT YEARS IN POWER

SEEN & HEARD

Coates Memoir Makes a Powerful, Personal Film

by Elie Wiesel & translated by Marion Wiesel ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 16, 2006

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR | HOLOCAUST | HISTORY | GENERAL BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR | GENERAL HISTORY

More by Elie Wiesel

FILLED WITH FIRE AND LIGHT

by Elie Wiesel ; edited by Alan Rosen

THE TALE OF A NIGGUN

by Elie Wiesel ; illustrated by Mark Podwal

NIGHT

by Elie Wiesel ; translated by Marion Wiesel

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book review of 48 laws of power

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The 48 laws of power by robert greene - review, summary, analysis & facts.

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Table of Contents:

Book details, summar y (each law summarized), analysis (lessons, influences etc), review (is it worth reading), about the auhtor, book club questions, reading plan, facts & curiosities (+ quotes), books related, 1- book details, full title:.

The 48 Laws of Power

Self-help, Non-fiction

Strategy, Philosophy

Author - Who Wrote?

Robert Greene

Publication Date:

January 1, 1998

Country & Original Language

United States, English

Point of View

The book is written in the second person, addressing the reader directly and providing advice on how to navigate power dynamics.

Number of Pages:

2- synopsis.

"The 48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene is a provocative exploration of the dynamics and strategies of power. Drawing on historical examples from politics, war, and business, Greene outlines 48 laws that encapsulate the principles of acquiring and maintaining power. Each law is illustrated with anecdotes and stories of individuals who either successfully applied or failed to adhere to these principles. From mastering the art of timing to cultivating an air of unpredictability, the book provides readers with a guide to understanding and navigating the complex world of power dynamics. While some may view the laws as controversial and Machiavellian, Greene's work encourages readers to approach power with a strategic mindset, ultimately leaving them with a thought-provoking examination of the subtle and often ruthless forces at play in the pursuit of influence.

"The 48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene is a comprehensive exploration of the dynamics, strategies, and nuances surrounding the acquisition and utilization of power. Published in 1998, the book is a culmination of Robert Greene's extensive research into historical and contemporary sources, drawing on examples from various fields such as politics, warfare, and business to illustrate the principles of power.

The book is structured around 48 laws, each encapsulating a specific aspect of power. These laws are presented in a didactic and often provocative manner, urging readers to contemplate and internalize the principles. Greene's approach is unapologetically pragmatic, focusing on the realities of power dynamics rather than prescribing moral judgments. The laws range from advice on cultivating an aura of unpredictability to the strategic use of language and maintaining a sense of mystery.

Throughout the book, Greene supports each law with historical anecdotes and examples. The figures he cites include statesmen, military leaders, and other influential individuals who either successfully wielded power or faced downfall due to their failure to adhere to these principles. By examining the successes and failures of historical figures, Greene aims to distill patterns and lessons that can be applied in contemporary situations.

The laws are not presented as a rigid code but rather as a set of tools that can be adapted to different circumstances. Greene emphasizes the importance of flexibility and situational awareness, encouraging readers to apply the laws judiciously and adapt their strategies to the ever-changing dynamics of power.

One of the central themes of the book is the concept of "Machiavellianism," drawing inspiration from Niccolò Machiavelli's "The Prince." Greene acknowledges the ruthlessness often associated with power and suggests that understanding and, to some extent, embracing these characteristics can be advantageous in navigating the complexities of the real world.

The narrative style is didactic, with each law presented in a concise and clear manner. Greene's prose is accessible, making the book engaging for a wide range of readers. Despite the controversial nature of some of the laws, the author encourages readers to think critically and adapt the principles to their own ethical framework.

"The 48 Laws of Power" has garnered both praise and criticism. Supporters laud its strategic insights and practical advice, considering it a valuable guide for those interested in understanding and navigating power dynamics. Critics, on the other hand, argue that the book promotes manipulation and unethical behavior.

In conclusion, "The 48 Laws of Power" is a thought-provoking exploration of the timeless and universal principles that govern the acquisition and application of power. It serves as a manual for understanding the often intricate and ruthless nature of human interaction, challenging readers to reflect on their own values and navigate the complex landscape of power with strategic acumen.

The 48 Laws (List):

Law 1: Never Outshine the Master

Avoid overshadowing those in power; make them feel superior to avoid jealousy and resentment.

Law 2: Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends; Learn How to Use Enemies

Be cautious with confidences; allies can turn into rivals, and enemies can be useful.

Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions

Reveal little about your true goals to maintain an element of surprise and advantage.

Law 4: Always Say Less Than Necessary

Avoid unnecessary information; the less you say, the more control you maintain.

Law 5: So Much Depends on Reputation—Guard It with Your Life

Cultivate a positive reputation as it influences how others perceive and treat you.

Law 6: Court Attention at All Costs

Ensure you are noticed; obscurity is detrimental to acquiring power and influence.

Law 7: Get Others to Do the Work for You, but Always Take the Credit

Delegate effectively, but claim credit to enhance your image and influence.

Law 8: Make Other People Come to You—Use Bait If Necessary

Draw people to you, allowing you to control the situation and dictate terms.

Law 9: Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument

Demonstrate your abilities and achievements; actions speak louder than words.

Law 10: Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky

Associate with positive individuals; negativity can hinder your progress.

Law 11: Learn to Keep People Dependent on You

Create dependencies to secure loyalty and maintain control.

Law 12: Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm Your Victim

Strategic honesty and generosity can disarm others and make them more receptive.

Law 13: When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to Their Mercy or Gratitude

Frame requests in a way that aligns with others' self-interest to increase the likelihood of assistance.

Law 14: Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy

Appear friendly while gathering information to use to your advantage.

Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally

Eliminate threats completely; leaving remnants can lead to future challenges.

Law 16: Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor

Create value by making your presence scarce.

Law 17: Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability

Maintain an element of surprise and unpredictability to keep others on edge.

Law 18: Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself—Isolation is Dangerous

Being too isolated can make you vulnerable; build alliances and networks.

Law 19: Know Who You're Dealing with—Do Not Offend the Wrong Person

Be aware of power structures and avoid unnecessary conflicts with influential individuals.

Law 20: Do Not Commit to Anyone

Maintain flexibility and avoid being tied down; commitments can limit your options.

Law 21: Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker—Seem Dumber than Your Mark

Appear less intelligent than you are to disarm and manipulate others.

Law 22: Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness into Power

Occasionally surrender strategically to gain long-term advantage.

Law 23: Concentrate Your Forces

Focus your efforts and resources to maximize impact.

Law 24: Play the Perfect Courtier

Adapt to the norms of your environment; be flexible and attuned to social dynamics.

Law 25: Re-Create Yourself

Adapt your persona to suit your goals and the changing circumstances.

Law 26: Keep Your Hands Clean

Avoid direct involvement in controversial or dirty matters to maintain your reputation.

Law 27: Play on People's Need to Believe to Create a Cult-like Following

Tap into people's desire for a cause or leader to build loyalty and support.

Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness

Act decisively and with confidence to instill a sense of awe and fear.

Law 29: Plan All the Way to the End

Anticipate potential obstacles and plan for contingencies.

Law 30: Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless

Downplay the effort behind your achievements to make them more impressive.

Law 31: Control the Options: Get Others to Play with the Cards You Deal

Manipulate situations to limit others' choices and enhance your control.

Law 32: Play to People's Fantasies

Appeal to what people desire or dream of to gain influence.

Law 33: Discover Each Man's Thumbscrew

Identify individuals' vulnerabilities to gain leverage in negotiations.

Law 34: Be Royal in Your Own Fashion—Act Like a King to Be Treated Like One

Project confidence and authority to be perceived as powerful.

Law 35: Master the Art of Timing

Understand the optimal moments to act or refrain from action.

Law 36: Disdain Things You Cannot Have—Ignoring Them Is the Best Revenge

Focus on what is attainable and ignore what is beyond your control.

Law 37: Create Compelling Spectacles

Capture attention through impressive and memorable displays.

Law 38: Think as You Like but Behave Like Others

Adapt to social expectations while maintaining individual thoughts and strategies.

Law 39: Stir Up Waters to Catch Fish

Create chaos to exploit the resulting opportunities.

Law 40: Despise the Free Lunch

Nothing is truly free; be wary of obligations tied to seemingly generous offers.

Law 41: Avoid Stepping into a Great Man's Shoes

Do not attempt to replace a powerful figure directly; it invites unnecessary challenges.

Law 42: Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep Will Scatter

Target the source of leadership to weaken an organization or group.

Law 43: Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others

Influence emotions to gain support and cooperation.

Law 44: Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect

Reflect others' emotions and tactics back at them to disarm and frustrate.

Law 45: Preach the Need for Change, But Never Reform Too Much at Once

Advocate for change, but implement it gradually to avoid resistance.

Law 46: Never Appear Too Perfect

Flaws make you more relatable and less threatening.

Law 47: Do Not Go Past the Mark You Aimed For—In Victory, Know When to Stop

Avoid excessive ambition or overreach; know when to stop and consolidate.

Law 48: Assume Formlessness

Adaptability is crucial; be flexible and unpredictable to respond effectively to changing circumstances.

book review of 48 laws of power

4- Analysis

Historical perspective:.

One of the book's strengths is its use of historical examples to illustrate each law. Greene draws on a wide range of historical figures, from Machiavelli to modern-day leaders, to highlight the application of these laws in different context.

Machiavellian Influence:

The book is heavily influenced by Niccolò Machiavelli's work, particularly "The Prince." Like Machiavelli, Greene argues that power is amoral, and the pursuit of power often requires strategic and sometimes ruthless actions.

Strategic Thinking:

Greene emphasizes the importance of strategic thinking and the ability to navigate complex social and professional landscapes. The laws are presented as strategies that individuals can employ to achieve and maintain power.

Controversial Nature:

The book is not without its critics. Some argue that the laws promote manipulation, deceit, and a win-at-all-costs mentality. Critics caution against applying these principles blindly, as they may lead to negative consequences and damage relationships.

Adaptability:

An underlying theme is adaptability. The laws suggest that individuals should be flexible in their approach, adjusting their strategies based on the circumstances. This adaptability is seen as a key element in the pursuit and retention of power.

Application in Various Arenas:

Greene applies the laws to different arenas, including politics, business, and personal relationships. This broad scope allows readers to consider the relevance of the laws in diverse situations.

Ethical Considerations:

The book raises ethical questions about the means used to achieve power. While some laws may be seen as pragmatic and effective, others may be considered morally questionable. Readers are encouraged to critically evaluate the ethical implications of each law.

Individual Empowerment:

"The 48 Laws of Power" can be viewed as a guide for individual empowerment. By understanding power dynamics, readers may gain insights into how to navigate competitive environments and achieve their goals

Cautionary Tales:

The book includes cautionary tales of those who failed to heed the laws, emphasizing the potential pitfalls of ignoring strategic thinking in the pursuit of power.

Subjectivity of Power:

Power is presented as a subjective concept, and the book suggests that one's perception of power and success may differ from societal norms. This individualistic approach encourages readers to define and pursue their own version of power.

Main lessons from the book:

Power is a Game: The book portrays power as a game with its own rules, strategies, and dynamics. Understanding and playing by these rules can increase one's chances of success.

Observation and Strategy: Greene emphasizes the importance of keen observation and strategic thinking. Being aware of the motivations, strengths, and weaknesses of oneself and others is crucial in the pursuit and maintenance of power.

Adaptability and Flexibility: The idea of "Assume Formlessness" underscores the importance of adaptability. Being able to change strategies and approaches based on the circumstances is seen as a key trait for those seeking power.

Control of Emotions and Information: The book advises on the importance of controlling emotions and being strategic about the information one reveals. Emotional reactions and transparency can be used against an individual, and strategic communication is essential.

Avoiding Predictability: Predictability is considered a weakness. The book encourages individuals to avoid becoming too easily understood or anticipated by others. Maintaining an element of unpredictability can be an advantage.

Understanding Human Nature: Many of the laws in the book are based on an understanding of human nature, including desires, fears, and motivations. Recognizing these aspects of human behavior is presented as essential for effective power dynamics.

Balancing Confidence and Humility: While projecting confidence and strength is emphasized, there is also a recognition of the importance of humility. It is suggested that humility can be a strategic tool in certain situations.

"The 48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene is nothing short of a cerebral rollercoaster through the intricate web of human dynamics. From the outset, Greene captivates with his exploration of power, drawing on historical examples that range from the cunning to the ruthless.

The book's allure lies in its unapologetic confrontation of the darker aspects of human nature. Greene doesn't sugarcoat; he delves deep into the realms of manipulation, strategy, and cunning, offering readers a candid glimpse into the often unspoken rules that govern power dynamics.

As I navigated through the 48 laws, I found myself oscillating between awe and discomfort. Greene's storytelling prowess breathes life into historical anecdotes, making the principles tangible and relatable. Each law is a double-edged sword, a tool that can be wielded for personal gain or, in some instances, a warning against falling victim to the same tactics.

While the book is undeniably thought-provoking, it is not without controversy. Greene's unabashed endorsement of strategic cunning may leave some readers uneasy, as the moral implications of some laws can be unsettling. It's essential to approach the content critically, recognizing that the author presents a spectrum of strategies, not all of which may align with one's personal values.

Is reading "The 48 Laws of Power" worth the investment of time and mental energy?

The worth of reading "The 48 Laws of Power" hinges on one's willingness to engage with its provocative content. If you approach the book as a source of insights into the multifaceted nature of power dynamics, it can be a compelling and intellectually stimulating read. The historical examples and strategic principles provide a unique perspective on human behavior and offer a roadmap for navigating complex social landscapes. However, it's crucial to read with a discerning mind, recognizing that not all the presented strategies may align with one's ethical framework. If you are open to exploring the darker aspects of power and can extract lessons without necessarily endorsing every tactic, then the book has the potential to broaden your understanding of human relationships and the pursuit of influence.

6- About the Auhtor

Robert Greene, the mastermind behind "The 48 Laws of Power," is a renowned author and strategist known for his profound insights into human behavior. Born on May 14, 1959, in Los Angeles, California, Greene has carved a niche for himself as a keen observer of power dynamics throughout history. With a background in classical studies and a degree in classical literature, he brings a unique blend of scholarship and pragmatism to his works.

Greene's writing transcends traditional genres, seamlessly blending historical anecdotes, psychological analysis, and strategic wisdom. In addition to "The 48 Laws of Power," his other notable works include "The Art of Seduction," "The 33 Strategies of War," and "Mastery." Greene's approach is characterized by a deep dive into the complexities of human nature, offering readers unconventional perspectives on success, strategy, and the pursuit of power.

Beyond his literary contributions, Robert Greene has become a sought-after speaker and consultant, sharing his expertise on power dynamics and strategy with a diverse range of audiences. His ability to distill timeless principles from historical narratives has earned him acclaim among readers seeking a deeper understanding of the forces that shape human interactions. Whether critiqued or celebrated, Greene's work undeniably challenges readers to think critically about power, influence, and the intricacies of the human experience.

7- Book Club Questions

How did the book challenge your ethical boundaries? Were there specific laws or examples that made you uncomfortable?

Which historical examples stood out to you the most? How did they enhance your understanding of the laws of power?

In what ways do you see the principles being applicable to modern-day situations?

What do you think Robert Greene's intentions were in writing this book? Do you believe he meant for readers to apply these laws directly?

Did reading the book change the way you approach strategic thinking in your own life?

How do you respond to criticisms about the book promoting manipulative behavior? Do you think the book encourages unethical actions?

Which of the 48 laws resonated with you personally, and why? Can you think of a personal or historical example where you've seen this law in action?

Are there alternative perspectives missing from the book? How might a different author approach the subject of power dynamics?

Can you think of characters who embody the principles outlined in the book? How do their actions align with or deviate from the laws of power?

Do you think the principles outlined in the book have a lasting impact on those who apply them? How might these principles affect long-term relationships and success?

book review of 48 laws of power

8- Reading Plan

Number of pages, how long it would take to read.

Approximately 10 hours

Reading plan (1 week)

The reading plan can be adapted based on your reading speed and the time you have available. Here's a suggested plan:

Day 1-2: Read the introduction and the first 100 pages (Laws 1-8).

Day 3-4: Read the next 100 pages (Laws 9-16).

Day 5-7: Take a break or catch up if needed.

Day 8-10: Read the next 100 pages (Laws 17-24).

Day 11-14: Read the next 100 pages (Laws 25-32).

Day 15-16: Take a break or catch up if needed.

Day 17-19: Read the next 80 pages (Laws 33-40).

Day 20-22: Read the next 80 pages (Laws 41-48) and the conclusion.

Day 23-24: Take a break or catch up if needed.

Day 25-28: Use these days to review specific laws, jot down notes, or revisit sections that were particularly impactful or challenging.

9- Facts & Curiosities

- Inspirations from Historical Figures:

Robert Greene drew inspiration from historical figures such as Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and other strategists when crafting the laws presented in the book

- Research Process:

Greene spent years researching and studying historical events and biographies to distill the principles of power outlined in the book.

- The 49th Law:

While the book is titled "The 48 Laws of Power," some readers humorously refer to the unspoken 49th law as "Never Reveal All Your Secrets," suggesting that Greene may be holding back some strategies.

- Controversial Reputation:

The book has been both praised and criticized for its unapologetic exploration of manipulative strategies. Some see it as a guide to understanding the dynamics of power, while others condemn it for promoting unethical behavior.

- Sequel and Companion Books:

Robert Greene has authored several other books exploring similar themes, including "The Art of Seduction," "The 33 Strategies of War," and "Mastery," creating a collection that delves into various aspects of human behavior and achievement.

- Influence on Pop Culture:

The book has been referenced and quoted in numerous movies, TV shows, and songs, indicating its enduring influence on popular culture.

- Global Readership:

"The 48 Laws of Power" has been translated into multiple languages, reflecting its global appeal and readership.

- Interviews and Lectures:

Robert Greene frequently gives interviews and lectures, sharing insights from his books and discussing the application of strategic principles in different aspects of life.

- Application in Business and Leadership:

Many business leaders and executives have found value in the book's principles, incorporating them into their leadership strategies and decision-making processes.

Quotes of "The 18 Laws of Power"

"Never assume that the person you are dealing with is weaker or less important than you are. Some people are slow to take offense, which may make you misjudge the thickness of their skin, and fail to worry about insulting them. But should you offend their honor and their pride, they will overwhelm you with a violence that seems sudden and extreme given their slowness to anger."

"Conceal your intentions. ... By concealing the extent of your power, you ensure its effectiveness."

"Keep others in suspended terror: cultivate an air of unpredictability."

"Do not leave your reputation to chance or gossip; it is your life's artwork, and you must craft it, hone it, and display it with the care of an artist."

"The greatest danger you face is your mind growing soft and your eye getting dull. Be as vigilant in your reading as you are in your actions."

"The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways."

What is "The 48 Laws of Power" about?

"The 48 Laws of Power" is a book by Robert Greene that explores the dynamics of power and influence. It presents 48 laws or principles drawn from historical examples, offering insights into navigating various social and professional situations.

Is this book a self-help guide?

While the book contains advice on navigating social dynamics, it is not a traditional self-help guide. It delves into the darker aspects of power, strategy, and human behavior, offering both cautionary tales and practical advice.

Is the book "The 48 Laws of Power" Manipulative?

"The 48 Laws of Power" is often perceived as advocating manipulative strategies, as it explores historical examples of individuals using various tactics to gain and maintain power. However, the book encourages readers to approach its content critically and does not explicitly endorse manipulative behavior without considering ethical implications. The interpretation and application of the principles presented in the book depend on the reader's discretion.

How should I approach reading this book?

A: Approach the book with an open mind and critical thinking. Consider it a study of historical examples and strategies rather than a strict guide to be followed. Reflect on the principles presented and evaluate their ethical implications.

Are the laws presented in the book meant to be applied literally?

The laws are presented as strategic principles derived from historical events. Readers can choose to interpret them metaphorically or apply them cautiously in their own lives. It's essential to exercise discretion and consider the ethical implications of each law.

Is "The 48 Laws of Power" suitable for everyone?

The book may not be suitable for readers who are uncomfortable with the exploration of manipulative or strategic behavior. It is recommended for those interested in understanding the complexities of power dynamics, strategy, and historical examples.

Does the book promote unethical behavior?

The book has faced criticism for potentially endorsing manipulative behavior. However, Robert Greene intends for readers to approach the content critically and use it as a tool for understanding power dynamics rather than promoting unethical actions.

Can the principles in the book be applied in the modern world?

Many readers find the principles applicable to various aspects of modern life, including business, relationships, and personal development. However, the application should be done judiciously, considering the specific context and ethical considerations.

Are there real-life examples of people applying these laws successfully?

The book includes historical examples to illustrate each law. While there may be instances of individuals applying similar principles successfully, it's crucial to recognize that circumstances vary, and the laws may not guarantee success in every situation.

Are there similar books by the author?

Yes, Robert Greene has authored several other books exploring themes related to power, strategy, and human behavior. Some of his other notable works include "The Art of Seduction," "The 33 Strategies of War," and "Mastery."

11- Books Related

If you're interested in books related to "the 48 laws of power" that explore similar themes of strategy, power dynamics, and human behavior, here are a few recommendations:, 1. "the art of war" by sun tzu:.

A classic work on military strategy that delves into the principles of warfare, tactics, and strategic thinking. Many of its lessons are applicable to broader aspects of life.

2. "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert B. Cialdini:

Cialdini explores the principles of influence and persuasion, examining the psychology behind why people say "yes" and providing practical insights for effective communication.

3; "Leadership in War" by Andrew Roberts:

This book examines the leadership styles of various historical figures during times of war, providing lessons on effective leadership and decision-making.

4. "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey:

Covey's classic book focuses on personal development and effectiveness, offering principles for achieving success and building meaningful relationships.

5. "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman:

Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist, explores the two systems of thinking that influence decision-making, shedding light on human behavior and judgment.

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Robert Greene: 'I felt like a child exposing what the parents are up to'

Robert Greene on his 48 laws of power: 'I'm not evil – I'm a realist'

S ome people think Robert Greene is evil. They're the ones that read The 48 Laws of Power, his bestselling 1998 debut, saw the world depicted as a writhing snakepit of treachery and mind games, and felt that the author must be part of the problem. Other fans think he's the solution, including Will Smith, American Apparel CEO Dov Charney (who calls it "the Bible for atheists") and so many rappers, from Jay-Z on down, that the New Yorker dubbed him " hip-hop's Machiavelli ". But when you advise your readers, "Discover each man's thumbscrew" (Law 33) or "Pose as a friend, work as a spy" (Law 14), some are prone to expect the worst.

"I'm not who people expect me to be," says Greene, an earnest, thoughtful 53-year-old with a somewhat tense smile. "I'm not Henry Kissinger." In conversation at his London publisher's office, as in his books, he always has an apt quotation to hand. "Charles de Gaulle said, I realised that when people met me they were expecting to meet Charles de Gaulle. I had to learn to be the man inside the quotes. But generally I prefer to be myself. I don't have to pretend to be this mastermind."

Greene doesn't think he's evil, obviously, but nor does he consider himself particularly good. He says he's just a realist. "I believe I described a reality that no other book tried to describe," he says. "I went to an extreme for literary purposes because I felt all the self-help books out there were so gooey and Pollyanna-ish and nauseating. It was making me angry."

Even if The 48 Laws of Power can be read as a bastard's handbook, he wrote it to demystify the dirty tricks of the executives he encountered during a dispiriting period as a Hollywood screenwriter. "I felt like a child exposing what the parents are up to and laughing at it," he says. "Opening the curtain and letting people see the Wizard of Oz."

Greene is accustomed to defending his first book, but I suspect he's trying to move beyond it with his latest, Mastery, which studies how talent is developed, using a heavily researched slew of examples including Einstein, Darwin, Goethe and John Coltrane. "I was a little worried that young people would think the only game was being political and manipulative when really the bigger game is being so good at what you do that nobody can argue with your results," he says.

Mastery is an illuminating book but its message (the secret of success is working incredibly hard for many years) is much tougher and more exacting than the follow-your-dreams manuals with which it will share the self-help shelves. "I hate them," he says. "I was under a lot of pressure to write something faster and shorter and easier for people to consume and I resisted that. So maybe this book won't sell because I've loaded the donkey with all that baggage, but I do at least try to debunk the idea that it's all about your parents and education and wealth."

On that subject, Greene himself had an "insanely middle-class" upbringing in Los Angeles. His father sold cleaning supplies while his mother was a housewife with thwarted artistic ambitions. After studying classics at college, Greene travelled around Europe, working dozens of menial jobs while trying to find the right outlet for his writing. Back in the US, he meandered through journalism and into Hollywood, before finally publishing The 48 Laws of Power in his late 30s.

His bestsellers (including the similarly gimlet-eyed The Art of Seduction and The 33 Strategies of War) have made him a wealthy man, but he could be even richer if he took all the offers that came his way. For one thing, he doesn't think he's a great public speaker. "I'm not like Malcolm Gladwell, who makes millions from that kind of thing. Maybe it's a shortcoming. I'm so earnest in trying to give people so much information that I overdo it." He laughs almost inaudibly. "I need to get a shtick."

He turns down a lot of consultancy work because he is only drawn to people with interesting life stories, whether Charney (he's on American Apparel's board of directors), 50 Cent (they collaborated on 2009's The 50th Law) or Barack Obama. He is now working with labour organisers in Latin America, and his liberal politics disappoint some of his fans in the business world, who expect him to be a champion of the ruthless go-getter.

"I'm a huge Obama supporter," he says. "Romney is satan to me. The great thing about America is that you can come from the worst circumstances and become something remarkable. It's Jay-Z and 50 Cent and Obama and my Jewish ancestors – that's the America we want to celebrate. Not the vulture capitalist. These morons like Mitt Romney, they produce nothing. Republicans are feeding off fairytales and that's what did them in this year and hopefully will keep doing them in for ever, because they're a lot of scoundrels."

Greene claims that most of the emails he receives are from readers who used his first book to understand and outwit manipulative people, but surely he has inadvertently created a few scoundrels himself? "There are people on the borderline and maybe the book helps them to move into that sociopathic realm so then I feel bad," he concedes, "but mainly it's positive."

Mastery is so much warmer and more encouraging than its predecessors that I wonder if his view of human nature has softened. Instead of backstabbing brutes, are we in fact marvellous creatures?

He pulls a face, resisting the siren song of Pollyanna. "I'm not sure I'd go that far."

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The 48 Laws of Power: A Comprehensive Review

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The 48 Laws of Power is a book written by Robert Greene that has become a classic in the world of business and self-improvement. The book is a comprehensive guide to understanding the strategies and lessons of power and how to apply them in your life. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand power dynamics and how to navigate them.

The 48 Laws of Power: A Comprehensive Overview

The 48 Laws of Power is a book that is divided into 48 chapters, each of which describes a different law of power. The book is organized in such a way that each chapter builds on the previous one, creating a comprehensive overview of the strategies and lessons of power.

The laws of power described in the book range from "Never outshine the master" to "Crush your enemy totally." Each law is explained in detail, with examples from history and literature to illustrate the point. The book also includes a section on how to apply the laws of power in your own life.

The 48 Laws of Power is not just a book about how to gain power. It is also a book about how to keep power. The book emphasizes the importance of understanding the power dynamics in any situation and using that understanding to your advantage.

Analyzing the Strategies and Lessons of Robert Greene’s Bestseller

The strategies and lessons of power described in The 48 Laws of Power are based on the principles of human nature. The book emphasizes the importance of understanding the motivations and desires of others in order to gain and maintain power.

One of the key lessons of the book is the importance of being aware of your own weaknesses and vulnerabilities. The book emphasizes the importance of being honest with yourself and acknowledging your own limitations.

The 48 Laws of Power is a book that is both practical and philosophical. It is a book that teaches you how to navigate the complex world of power dynamics while also encouraging you to reflect on your own values and beliefs.

Overall, The 48 Laws of Power is a book that is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand power dynamics and how to navigate them. The book is a comprehensive guide to the strategies and lessons of power, and it is a must-read for anyone who wants to succeed in business or in life.

The 48 Laws of Power is a book that has stood the test of time. It is a classic in the world of business and self-improvement, and it continues to be relevant today. Whether you are a business owner, a manager, or just someone who wants to understand power dynamics, The 48 Laws of Power is a book that you should read.

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The 48 Laws of Power [Review]

by William | Apr 22, 2015 | Book Reviews |

Said incompletely, having power means being able to get what you want.  

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene plays a cat and mouse game with the idea of power. Sometimes power is about being on the defensive, sometimes it’s about being on the offensive. Sometimes it’s acting powerless, when you’re really powerful, and sometimes the other way around. In no one section of text, nor the text taken as a whole, does Greene manage to wrap up the concept of power. That might be what made the book such a success when it was released in 1998.

As a slew of publications pointed out in early reviews, Greene’s laws sometimes contradict each other. They also pointed out that the laws weren’t based on scientific research, or studies. They were just one guy’s interpretation of a variety of historical events. But again, this may be the source of the book’s success.

One thing you don’t need a book to tell you is that “power” is definitely affected by the way we think about it. For a book of this nature to help people chase after and acquire some kind of power may not really depend on how right or wrong the book actually is. According to the book’s wikipedia page , some very notable people have fallen in love with the book. Jay Z, Kanye West, Drake, the CEO of American Apparel, and allegedly Fidel Castro. What’s interesting, is that everyone seems to find clarity in just one or two of Greene’s laws. That makes sense, because they aren’t as much “laws” as strategies–or better said, “moves”.

The 48 Moves of Power.  It doesn’t really roll off the tongue as well. There are also probably a lot more than 48.

If we think of them less like laws and more like moves or strategies, it all makes a lot more sense and has a lot fewer contradictions. And, some moves are going to seem more relevant to some people than to others.

Greene paints a cynical and paranoid view of the world. Everyone is playing a game, vying for power of some kind. A gift is nothing more than a way for people to put you in their pocket; an encouraging word is really meant to topple the empire; The kindness of a friend is the sword they will use to destroy you.

Is he wrong? If the power is public enough, it’s hard to think not. While most of the stories Greene uses to explain his laws are from a bloodier era than our own, he cleverly uses the french “courtier”  from between around 1500 to 1800 to draw the connections to modern society.

The courtier was a person who served the court of the king or ruler. Their function varied a lot. A courtier might simply be there to keep the king company, or they might’ve been in charge of artwork in the palace, or public relations. Whatever the case, the courtier’s position was one of dignity and class in a time of literal cutthroat competition for the king’s favor. The courtiers all vied for the king’s affection–for a piece of his power–and to get it, would play intricate games to conceal their real intentions and actions, careful that the person they killed, usurped or exiled wouldn’t condemn them from the grave.

Most of modern society, Greene suggests, lives in a kind of King’s court. The higher up the ladder of public interest you rise, the more deviously you would have to conceal and defend your power, and even at the lowest levels, we are not to overtly attack one another.

The 48 Laws of Power brings up more than a few ethical concerns–however, in a sense, they may not matter.  If Greene’s view of the world and society that he presents in the book are accurate, to abstain out of ethical principal would only insure that manipulators with the most gnarly intent would reach the heights of power. Furthermore, to abstain out of ethical objection looks a lot like more than one of Greene’s laws (16, 18, 21).

I’m left with few conclusions after finishing the book. If nothing more, Greene has produced interesting interpretations of historical events which make the book more than entertaining. But, in addition to that, I understood and related personally to the concepts behind at least a few of his laws. If nothing else, The 48 Laws of Power reinforced the idea that it’s good to know the person you’re speaking with, competing with, looking for, whatever. To know is often better than to wonder.

It’s worth a read, if you can stomach it.

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book review of 48 laws of power

The 48 Laws of Power: Summary Review & Takeaways

book review of 48 laws of power

This is a summary review of The 48 Laws of Power containing key details about the book.

What is The 48 Laws of Power About?

Drawn from 3,000 years of the history of power, The 48 Laws of Power is a guide to help readers achieve for themselves what many powerful leaders learned the hard way. The 48 laws are illustrated through the tactics, triumphs and failures of great figures from the past who have wielded - or been victimised by power.

book review of 48 laws of power

Who is the Author of The 48 Laws of Power?

Robert Greene is an American author of books on strategy, power, and seduction. He has written six international bestsellers: The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, The 50th Law, Mastery, and The Laws of Human Nature.

What are key takeaways from The 48 Laws of Power?

Understand power, learn how to defend against it, and learn how to use it to get what you want.

Powerful people like to be the center of attention so in order to impress them you shouldn't outshine them as this will make them feel threatened instead, you should ensure you shine the light on them to make them look better and smarter than everyone one, including yourself.

To become powerful you will likely have to use other people's work to your advantage. Stealing is a strong word to use but if you have ever plagiarized someone's work or copied an answer know that you're not alone as even Thomas Edison used employee Nikola Tesla's work to further his breakthrough of the dynamo, claiming Tesla's hard work as his own. This is why it's so vital for you to claim credit for your work, whether you've invented something, written a book, or written a speech – claim your idea or work before someone else does!

When struggling to outsmart your competition, gather as much information as you can about the company or individual. You'll need to befriend the enemy in order to outpower them, this way you can discover their weaknesses, plans, and desires whilst, in time, influencing their decisions. Hiring informants is one way to gather information but is risky – how will you know if they're a double agent and that the information is reliable? Therefore, it's better to be your own spy. If the tables are turned (and you should presume they are!) you can act unpredictably to gain the edge over your competitor, this will leave them confused and floundering far behind as they try to work out what you're up to whilst you steam ahead.

When faced with an opponent that you know is stronger than you, it's ok to surrender as you will be able to gain power later - Avoid fighting for the glory when you know you don't have a hope of coming out on top and your competitor knows it too. By surrendering this time, you're not giving up altogether – use this opportunity to regroup so you come back fighting stronger next time.

To be treated superiorly you need to act more superior than your colleagues, however, by doing this you'll breed contempt in them. Therefore, you need to get people to treat you like royalty – don't let them see you acting superiorly, be superior so that they assume there's good reason for you to be treated so!

Seduction is always better than using force and coercion when gaining power over others. Even though force can often be the easier option, it breeds resistance in people as they being to resent you. Seduction on the other hand, allows you to control people by playing on their emotions, people will become indebted to you when you treat them well and will ultimately 'jump' as soon as you say the word!

Book details

  • Print length: 452 Pages
  • Audiobook: 23 hrs and 6 mins
  • Genre: Nonfiction, Psychology, Business, Self Help, Philosophy, Politics, Social Sciences

What are the chapters in The 48 Laws of Power?

Chapter One - Law 1 - Never Outshine the Master Chapter Two - Law 2 - Never Put Too Much Trust In Friends, Learn How to Use Enemies Chapter Three - Law 3 - Conceal YOur Intentions Chapter Four - Law 4 - Always Say Less Than Necessary Chapter Five - Law 5 - So Much Depends on Reputation - Guard It with Your Life Chapter Six - Law 6 - Court Attention at All Cost Chapter Seven - Law 7 - Get Others to Do the Work for You, But Always Take the Credit Chapter Eight - Law 8 - Make Other People Come To You - Use Bait if Necessary Chapter Nine - Law 9 - Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument Chapter Ten - Law 10 - Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky Chapter Eleven - Law 11 - Learn to Keep People Dependent on You Chapter Twelve - Law 12 - Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm Your Victim Chapter Thirteen - Law 13 - When Asking for Help, Appeal to People's Self-Interest, Never to Their Chapter Fourteen - Law 14 - Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy Chapter Fifteen - Law 15 - Crush Your Enemy Totally Chapter Sixteen - Law 16 - Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor Chapter Seventeen - Law 17 - Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability Chapter Eighteen - Law 18 - Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself - Isolation is Dangerous Chapter Nineteen - Law 19 - Know Who You're Dealing With - DO Not Offend the Wrong Person Chapter Twenty - Law 20 - DO Not Commit to Anyone Chapter Twenty-One - Law 21 - Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker - Seem Dumber Thank Your Mark Chapter Twenty-Two - Law 22 - Use the Surrender Tactic - Transform Weaknesses Into Power Chapter Twenty-Three - Law 23 - Concentrate Your Forces Chapter Twenty-Four - Law 24 - Play the Perfect Courtier Chapter Twenty-Five - Law 25 - Re-Create Yourself Chapter Twenty-Six - Law 26 - Keep Your Hands Clean Chapter Twenty-Seven - Law 27 - Play on People's Need to Believe to Create a Cultlike Following Chapter Twenty-Eight - Law 28 - Enter Action with Boldness Chapter Twenty-Nine - Law 29 - Plan All the Way to the End Chapter Thirty - Law 30 - Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless Chapter Thirty-One - Law 31 - Control the Options: Get Others to Play with the Cards You Deal Chapter Thirty-Two - Law 32 - Play to People's Fantasies Chapter Thirty-Three - Law 33 - Discover Each Man's Thumbscrew Chapter Thirty-Four - Law 34 - Be Royal In Your Own Fashion: Act Like a King to Be Treated Like One Chapter Thirty-Five - Law 35 - Master the Art of Timing Chapter Thirty-Six - Law 36 - Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Them is the Best Revenge Chapter Thirty-Seven - Law 37 - Create Compelling Spectacles Chapter Thirty-Eight - Law 38 - Think as You Like But Behave Like Others Chapter Thirty-Nine - Law 39 - Stir Up Waters to Catch Fish Chapter Forty  - Law 40 - Despise the Free Lunch Chapter Forty-One - Law 41 - Avoid Stepping Into a Great Man's Shoes Chapter Forty-Two - Law 42 - Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep will Scatter Chapter Forty-Three - Law 43 - Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others Chapter Forty-Four - Law 44 - Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect Chapter Forty-Five - Law 45 - Preach the Need for Change, But Never Reform Too Much at Once Chapter Forty-Six - Law 46 - Never Appear Too Perfect Chapter Forty-Seven - Law 47 - Do Not Go Past the Mark You Aimed for: In Victory, Learn When to Stop Chapter Forty-Eight - Law 48 - Assume Formlessness

What are some of the main summary points from the book?

Here are some key summary points from the book:

The 48 Laws of Power Summary Notes

Here are a few summary notes from the book:

Chapter One Summary - Law 1 - Never Outshine the Master

Synopsis: Law 1 highlights the importance of managing perceptions and maintaining a sense of modesty in the presence of those in power. Individuals must be strategic in showcasing their abilities and accomplishments to avoid challenging their superiors' authority. Ultimately, this law serves as a reminder to prioritize managing relationships with those in positions of power, as these relationships can often determine one's success or downfall.

Summary: The first topic in Robert Greene's book "The 48 Laws of Power" is Law 1 - Never Outshine the Master. This law advises individuals to avoid appearing more successful, talented, or powerful than their superiors. The main theme of this chapter is the importance of managing perceptions and maintaining a sense of modesty in the presence of those who hold power over you.

book review of 48 laws of power

Greene asserts that those who outshine their masters risk becoming targets of envy and resentment, which can lead to their downfall. He explains that superiors may perceive their subordinates' accomplishments as a challenge to their own status and authority. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that your actions do not threaten the ego of those in power.

There are several tactics to implement this law, such as allowing your superior to take credit for your accomplishments and avoiding showing off your abilities in a way that threatens their position. Additionally, it is important to ensure that your work reflects positively on your boss and that they receive recognition for your achievements.

However, it is also essential to note that this law does not mean that individuals should stifle their talents or hide their abilities. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of being strategic in how you showcase your skills and accomplishments. By maintaining a sense of modesty and not overtly threatening the authority of your superiors, individuals can navigate their way to success while avoiding any potential backlash.

Chapter Two Summary - Law 2 - Never Put Too Much Trust In Friends, Learn How to Use Enemies

Synopsis: Law 2 highlights the importance of maintaining a healthy level of skepticism and caution in our relationships. By learning how to use our enemies to our advantage, we can gain valuable insights and drive, while also avoiding the potential pitfalls of trusting too much in our friends.

Summary: According to Greene, friends have the potential to betray you in ways that enemies never could. Friends can become envious of your success and harbor resentment towards you. They may also become complacent and comfortable in their position as your friend, taking advantage of your trust and support. On the other hand, enemies are often more honest with their intentions and are easier to predict. They can be a valuable source of information, as they have a vested interest in keeping tabs on you.

Greene argues that it is important to maintain a healthy level of skepticism and caution when it comes to trusting friends. Instead, he suggests that we should learn to use our enemies to our advantage. This can be done by studying them and understanding their motivations, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. By doing so, we can gain insight into their plans and potentially turn their actions to our benefit.

Furthermore, by having enemies, we can create a sense of opposition and drive within ourselves. It can be motivating to have someone to compete against and to use their negative energy as fuel to accomplish our goals. Additionally, having enemies can serve as a way to build alliances and support from others who are opposed to our common enemy.

It is important to note that this law does not suggest that we should actively seek out enemies or be hostile towards our friends. Rather, it is about recognizing the potential dangers of placing too much trust in others and being mindful of our relationships with those around us.

Chapter Three Summary - Law 3 - Conceal Your Intentions

Synopsis: The main theme of Law 3 is the importance of keeping one's plans and goals hidden to avoid giving others an advantage and to protect one's interests. By concealing intentions, one can maintain an air of mystery, protect their reputation, and increase their chances of success.

Summary: When people know your intentions, they can use that information to their advantage, often by working against you or using it as leverage. Therefore, it is essential to keep your goals and plans to yourself and reveal them only when necessary.

One example of concealing intentions is seen in poker games. A skilled poker player never truly reveals their intentions, as it gives the other players an advantage. Similarly, in business, politics, and personal relationships, it's crucial to keep one's plans and intentions fairly hidden to avoid giving others leverage.

While outright lying may not be necessary, it's essential to use vague language, change the subject, or give false impressions to keep others from knowing your true intentions. However, it's crucial to be careful with deception, as it can backfire and damage your reputation. You want to use deception sparingly and only when necessary to protect your interests.

book review of 48 laws of power

In addition to the benefits of concealing intentions, there are potential downsides of being too open with your goals and plans. For example, if your intentions are too clear, others may view you as a threat and work to undermine you. Additionally, if you reveal your goals too soon, you may become complacent and lose the motivation to achieve them.

Chapter Four Summary - Law 4 - Always Say Less Than Necessary

Synopsis: Law 4 of "The 48 Laws of Power" is a reminder that words are powerful tools that should be used judiciously. By learning to say less than necessary, one can avoid the pitfalls of careless speech and maintain control over any situation. It is a lesson that can be applied in all aspects of life, from personal relationships to professional interactions, and can lead to greater power.

Summary: The art of effective communication is not just about expressing oneself but also about knowing when and how much to speak. The fourth law from Robert Greene's book "The 48 Laws of Power" emphasizes the importance of controlling one's words and limiting them to only what is necessary.

The main theme of this law is that words can be powerful tools but they can also be one's downfall if used carelessly. In any conversation, there is always the risk of saying too much or revealing more than intended, which can have dire consequences. By learning to say less than necessary, one can avoid these pitfalls and maintain a sense of control over the situation.

The chapter explores various aspects of this law, including the value of silence and the dangers of oversharing. It emphasizes that words are not only used to convey information but can also be used to manipulate and deceive others. Therefore, it is essential to be mindful of what is said and to whom it is said.

One of the key takeaways from this law is the importance of listening more than speaking. By actively listening to others, one can gain valuable insights into their thoughts and intentions. This allows one to tailor their words to the situation and to avoid saying anything that may be misinterpreted or misunderstood.

Another aspect of this law is the idea of creating an air of mystery. By saying less than necessary, one can create a sense of intrigue and curiosity that can be used to one's advantage. This can be particularly useful in situations where one is trying to gain the upper hand, such as in negotiations or when dealing with rivals.

Chapter Five Summary - Law 5 - So Much Depends on Reputation - Guard It with Your Life

Synopsis: Law 5 emphasizes the importance of reputation in our personal and professional lives and encourages us to be vigilant in protecting it. By cultivating positive relationships, being mindful of our actions and words, and responding effectively to any negative rumors or misinformation, we can guard our reputation and increase our chances of success in all areas of life.

Summary: Reputation is the way that others perceive us, and it can have a significant impact on our lives, both personally and professionally. A positive reputation can open doors, create opportunities, and help us gain the trust and respect of others. Conversely, a negative reputation can limit our options, damage relationships, and hinder our ability to achieve our goals.

Guarding our reputation requires a combination of vigilance and strategic thinking. This means being mindful of the impression we make on others, cultivating positive relationships, and avoiding behaviors that could tarnish our reputation.

One of the key strategies for guarding our reputation is to always be aware of how our actions and words may be perceived by others. This requires a certain level of self-awareness and emotional intelligence, as well as the ability to read and understand the motivations of others. We must also be willing to adapt our behavior to different social situations and cultural contexts, so that we can build strong relationships and avoid making missteps that could harm our reputation.

Another important aspect of guarding our reputation is the ability to differentiate between rumors and facts. In today's digital age, information spreads quickly and can be difficult to control. False or misleading information can damage our reputation and spread rapidly, so it's important to be proactive in correcting any misinformation that may be circulating.

Chapter Six Summary - Law 6 - Court Attention at All Cost

Synopsis: The main theme of this law is the importance of capturing people's attention and making oneself stand out in order to gain power and influence. While this may involve taking risks and being bold, it is also important to strike a balance and avoid appearing desperate or attention-seeking. By mastering the art of attention-grabbing, you can increase your ability to influence

Summary: As you probably noticed it yourself, people are naturally drawn to those who stand out and make an impression. In order to court attention, one must be willing to take risks and be bold in their actions.

There are numerous examples of individuals who successfully courted attention and became powerful as a result. One such example is Salvador Dali, who made a name for himself in the art world by creating outlandish and provocative works that were unlike anything else at the time. He knew how to capture people's attention and keep them interested in his work, which ultimately led to his success.

Another example is P.T. Barnum, the famous showman who created the "Greatest Show on Earth." Barnum was a master of self-promotion and knew how to generate buzz around his shows. He used a variety of tactics to court attention, including creating bizarre and exotic exhibits, staging stunts, and even hiring people to spread rumors about his shows.

While the idea of courting attention may seem like a selfish pursuit, it is actually a necessary part of gaining power and influence. By capturing people's attention, one can gain a following, attract supporters, etc.

However, as you can imagine, there is a fine line between courting attention and coming across as desperate or attention-seeking or even narcissistic. It is important to strike a balance between being bold and confident without appearing arrogant or obnoxious.

Chapter Seven Summary - Law 7 - Get Others to Do the Work for You, But Always Take the Credit

Synopsis: Law 7 is all about recognizing the value of delegation and using it strategically to achieve your own goals. It's a delicate balance that requires subtlety and strategic thinking. By understanding this law and implementing it effectively, you can climb the ladder of success and achieve your goals.

Summary: The key to implementing this law is to understand that most people are looking for validation and recognition for their work. They want to feel important and valued for what they do. By taking credit for their work, you are essentially giving them what they want while also achieving your own goals.

However, it's important to do this in a subtle and strategic way. You don't want to blatantly steal credit from someone, as this can create resentment and damage relationships. Instead, you want to position yourself in a way that makes it seem like you were an integral part of the project's success, without necessarily taking away from the contributions of others.

One way to do this is to be the one who is responsible for coordinating the project and delegating tasks. By doing this, you can ensure that everyone is doing their job effectively, while also keeping track of the progress of the project. This puts you in a position to take credit for the overall success of the project.

Another strategy is to be the one who communicates the progress and success of the project to others. By doing this, you can be seen as the face of the project, even if you weren't the one who did all the work. This can help you gain recognition and respect from those who are higher up in the company or organization.

It's important to note that this law isn't about taking advantage of others or being deceitful. It's about recognizing the value of delegation and understanding how to use it to your advantage. It's also important to remember that you should never steal credit for someone else's work. This can damage your reputation and credibility.

Chapter Eight Summary - Law 8 - Make Other People Come To You - Use Bait if Necessary

Synopsis: The main theme of Law 8 is that by making others come to you, you can gain power and influence in your personal and professional life. This can be achieved by cultivating a reputation for being valuable, strategically revealing your skills and resources, using bait to create a sense of demand, and creating an environment that others want to be a part of. By doing so, you can become a person of influence who others seek out, rather than someone who is constantly chasing after others.

Summary: The law emphasizes the importance of being seen as a person of value who has something others want. The more you can cultivate a reputation for being valuable, the more people will seek you out. This can be achieved by mastering a particular skill, having access to exclusive information, or possessing a desirable resource. However, it is not enough to simply have these things; you must also strategically reveal them to others.

One effective way to make others come to you is to use bait. This involves presenting something to others that they desire, but only giving it to them if they come to you. This can take many forms, such as offering exclusive information, access to important people, or even a physical object. By offering something desirable that others cannot easily obtain, you create a sense of demand for your presence.

Another way to make others come to you is to create an environment that they want to be a part of. This could mean hosting events or gatherings where interesting people will be in attendance or creating a physical space that is inviting and attractive. The key is to create an experience that others want to be a part of, so they will naturally seek you out.

It’s important to note, however, that using bait to make others come to you should not be done in a manipulative or deceptive way. Rather, it should be seen as a way to create mutual benefit. By giving others something they desire, you also gain something in return - their attention, respect, and possibly their loyalty.

Chapter Nine Summary - Law 9 - Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument

Synopsis: Law 9 emphasizes the importance of focusing on actions rather than words to achieve success. By demonstrating one's abilities and avoiding unnecessary conflicts, one can build a reputation based on their strengths and accomplishments. This requires self-reflection, practice, and dedication, as well as an understanding of the context and expectations of others. By following this law, one can become more effective in their endeavors and build stronger relationships based on trust and respect.

Summary: The central idea behind this law is that actions speak louder than words, and one should focus on demonstrating their abilities rather than engaging in arguments or debates. Words can often be misinterpreted, misheard, or forgotten, whereas actions have a lasting impact on others. Therefore, rather than trying to win an argument through persuasive language or logical reasoning, one should demonstrate their abilities and let their actions speak for themselves.

As you know, arguments often become personal and can damage relationships, while actions are seen as objective and can bring people together. By focusing on actions, one can avoid unnecessary conflicts and build a reputation based on their abilities rather than their rhetoric.

To win through actions, one must first identify their strengths and weaknesses and work on improving themselves. It’s also important to understand the context in which one operates and the expectations of others. This involves careful observation and analysis of the situation and the people involved.

Another aspect of this law is to avoid bragging or boasting about one's accomplishments. Instead, one should let their actions speak for themselves and allow others to recognize their achievements. This not only builds credibility but also creates a sense of humility and respect.

Chapter Ten Summary - Law 10 - Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky

Synopsis: The law emphasizes the importance of surrounding yourself with positive and driven individuals while avoiding those who are unhappy and unlucky. Doing so can help you maintain a positive attitude, stay motivated, and achieve your goals without any distractions. By being mindful of who you spend your time with, you can create a supportive environment that fosters growth and success.

Summary: In essence, the law suggests that individuals should surround themselves with those who are positive and driven, as these individuals are more likely to contribute to a person's growth and success.

As you know, the people you surround yourself with can have a significant impact on your life. Being around individuals who are negative, pessimistic, or unmotivated can bring down your power and hinder your success. It’s therefore essential to be cautious about who you spend your time with.

When you surround yourself with people who are ‘unhappy and unlucky’, it can be challenging to maintain a positive attitude and stay motivated. Their outlook can be contagious, leading you to start doubting your abilities and questioning your goals. In contrast, being around lucky and positive people can inspire you to strive for greatness and achieve your goals.

Moreover, unhappy and unlucky people often bring negative energy into any situation, which can lead to conflicts and setbacks. They may bring up problems without offering solutions or act as a burden, draining your energy and distracting you from your goals. By avoiding such individuals, you can focus on your objectives and work towards achieving them without any distractions.

It’s important to note that avoiding unhappy and unlucky individuals does not mean abandoning your friends or family members who may be going through tough times. Instead, it means being mindful of how much time and energy you spend with them and finding some balance.

What is a good quote from The 48 Laws of Power?

book review of 48 laws of power

― Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power Quotes

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Here's what one of the prominent reviewers had to say about the book: "Machiavelli has a new rival. And Sun Tzu had better watch his back. Greene . . . has put together a checklist of ambitious behavior. Just reading the table of contents is enough to stir a little corner-office lust.” — New York magazine

* The summary points above have been concluded from the book and other public sources. The editor of this summary review made every effort to maintain information accuracy, including any published quotes, chapters, or takeaways

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48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene: Summary & Notes

Rated : 9/10

Available at: Amazon

ISBN:  0140280197

Related:   The 50th Law , The Art of Seduction , Mastery , The 33 Strategies of War

Get access to my collection of 100+ detailed book notes

An outstanding book that will no doubt remain a classic for a long time.  48 Laws of Power details the laws for attaining power in life, business, and more, and gives historical examples of each law in practice, as well as examples of those who do not respect these laws.

A book I will continue to go back and reference.  Those who are cynical may see some of the laws as manipulative, and some are. That said, they are all grounded in the reality of human nature, and it's more important to understand them, and then choose how, when, and which to apply, than to just remain ignorant of them and refuse to acknowledge they exist.

A long read, but well worth it and entertaining throughout.

48 Laws of Power

1. never outshine the master..

Always make those above you feel comfortably superior. In your desire to please and impress them, do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might accomplish the opposite—inspire fear and insecurity. Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power.

2. Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use enemies.

Be wary of friends—they will betray you more quickly, for they are easily aroused to envy. They also become spoiled and tyrannical. But hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove. In fact, you have more to fear from friends than from enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make them.

  • Friends often conceal things in order to avoid conflict; this can be dangerous.
  • Keep friends for friendship, but work with the skilled and competent.
  • Whenever you can, bury the hatchet with an enemy, and make a point of putting him in your service.
  • Use enemies to define your cause more clearly to the public, even framing it as a struggle of good against evil.
  • It is better off to know who and where your opponents are than to not know where your real enemies lie.

3. Conceal your intentions.

Keep people off-balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions. If they have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense. Guide them far enough down the wrong path, envelop them in enough smoke, and by the time they realize your intentions, it will be too late.

I: Use decoyed objects of desire and red herrings to throw people off the scent:

  • If at any point in the deception you practice people have the slightest suspicions to your intentions, all is lost. Do not give them the chance to sense what you are up to: Throw them off the scent by dragging red herrings across the path. Use false sincerity, send ambiguous signals, set up misleading objects of desire. Unable to distinguish the genuine from the false, they cannot pick out your real goal.
  • Hide your intentions not by closing up, but by talking endlessly about your desires and goals - just false ones.

II: Use smoke screens to disguise your actions:

  • Deception is always the best strategy, but the best deceptions require a screen of smoke to distract people attention from your real purpose. The bland exterior—like the unreadable poker face—is often the perfect smoke screen, hiding your intentions behind the comfortable and familiar. If you lead the sucker down a familiar path, he won’t catch on when you lead him into a trap.
  • A helpful or honest gesture can divert from a deception.
  • Patterns will also help mask a deception.
  • Often the key to deception is being bland and acting with humility.

4. Always say less than necessary.

When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control. Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinxlike. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.

  • Silence generally makes people uncomfortable - they will jump in and nervously fill the silence.
  • Generally saying less makes you appear more profound and mysterious.
  • Be particularly careful with sarcasm - rarely is it valuable.
  • Be careful with arousing suspicion or insecurity by being silent.  At times it is easier to blend by playing the jester.

5. So much depends on reputation - guard it with your life.

Reputation is the cornerstone of power. Through reputation alone you can intimidate and win; once it slips, however, you are vulnerable, and will be attacked on all sides. Make your reputation unassailable. Always be alert to potential attacks and thwart them before they happen. Meanwhile, learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations. Then stand aside and let public opinion hang them.

  • Work to establish a reputation of outstanding quality, whether generosity or honesty or cunning.
  • A good reputation can save you much - a lot of work is done in advance by your reputation.
  • Once established, always take the high road when attacked.

6. Court attention at all cost.

Everything is judged by its appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing. Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, then, or buried in oblivion. Stand out. Be conspicuous, at all cost. Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious than the bland and timid masses.

I: Surround your name with the sensational and scandalous

  • Draw attention to yourself by creating an unforgettable, even controversial image. Court scandal. Do anything to make yourself seem larger than life and shine more brightly than those around you. Make no distinction between kinds of attention—notoriety of any sort will bring you power. Better to be slandered and attacked than ignored.
  • At the beginning of your rise, spend all your energy on attracting attention.  The quality of attention is irrelevant.

II: Create an air of mystery

  • In a world growing increasingly banal and familiar, what seems enigmatic instantly draws attention. Never make it too clear what you are doing or about to do. Do not show all your cards. An air of mystery heightens your presence; it also creates anticipation—everyone will be watching you to see what happens next. Use mystery to beguile, seduce, even frighten.
  • Remember: Most people are upfront, can be read like an open book, take little care to control their words or image, and are hopelessly predictable. By simply holding back, keeping silent, occasionally uttering ambiguous phrases, deliberately appearing inconsistent, and acting odd in the subtlest of ways, you will emanate an aura of mystery.
  • Do not let mystery turn to an air of deceit; it must always seem a game, playful, unthreatening.

7. Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit.

Use the wisdom, knowledge, and legwork of other people to further your own cause. Not only will such assistance save you valuable time and energy, it will give you a godlike aura of efficiency and speed. In the end your helpers will be forgotten and you will be remembered. Never do yourself what others can do for you.

  • You must secure the credit for yourself.
  • Learn to take advantage of others work to further your own cause.
  • Use the past, a vast storehouse of knowledge and wisdom.  Learn this and you will look like a genius.
  • Note: be sure to know when letting other people share the credit furthers your cause.

8. Make other people come to you - use bait if necessary.

When you force the other person to act, you are the one in control. It is always better to make your opponent come to you, abandoning his own plans in the process. Lure him with fabulous gains—then attack. You hold the cards.

  • The essence of power is keeping the initiative and forcing others to react, keeping them on the defensive.
  • Master your anger yet play on people’s natural tendency to react angrily when pushed and baited.

9. Win through your actions, never through argument.

Any momentary triumph you think you have gained through argument is really a Pyrrhic victory: The resentment and ill will you stir up is stronger and lasts longer than any momentary change of opinion. It is much more powerful to get others to agree with you through your actions, without saying a word. Demonstrate, do not explicate.

  • When aiming for power, always look for the indirect route.
  • Verbal argument has one use: deception when covering tracks or caught in a lie.

10. Infection: avoid the unhappy and unlucky.

You can die from someone else’s misery—emotional states are as infectious as diseases. You may feel you are helping the drowning man but you are only precipitating your own disaster. The unfortunate sometimes draw misfortune on themselves; they will also draw it on you. Associate with the happy and fortunate instead.

  • The most important person to avoid: the sufferer of chronic dissatisfaction.
  • Examine someone’s history to recognize these people: turbulence, a long line of broken relationships, etc.
  • The other side of infection is equally valid: there are those who attract happiness by their good cheer, natural buoyancy, and intelligence.
  • Use this rule to counteract your own undesirable or weak qualities.

11. Learn to keep people dependent on you.

To maintain your independence you must always be needed and wanted. The more you are relied on, the more freedom you have. Make people depend on you for their happiness and prosperity and you have nothing to fear. Never teach them enough so that they can do without you.

  • Do not mistake independence for power; power requires a relationship.
  • To cultivate this: possess a talent and creative skill that simply cannot be replaced.

12. Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim.

One sincere and honest move will cover over dozens of dishonest ones. Open-hearted gestures of honesty and generosity bring down the guard of even the most suspicious people. Once your selective honesty opens a hole in their armor, you can deceive and manipulate them at will. A timely gift—a Trojan horse—will serve the same purpose.

  • Learn to give before you take - an actual gift, a generous act, a kind favour, an “honest” admission - whatever it takes.
  • Selective honesty is best employed on your first encounter with someone.
  • A history of deceit will cause any act of generosity to be viewed with suspicion.  Counter by embracing your reputation for dishonesty openly.

13. When asking for help, appeal to people’s self-interest, never to their mercy or gratitude.

If you need to turn to an ally for help, do not bother to remind him of your past assistance and good deeds. He will find a way to ignore you. Instead, uncover something in your request, or in your alliance with him, that will benefit him, and emphasize it out of all proportion. He will respond enthusiastically when he sees something to be gained for himself.

  • Do not be subtle: you have valuable knowledge to share, you can make him rich, you can make him live longer and happier.
  • Train yourself to see inside other’s needs and interests and desires.
  • Distinguish differences among powerful people and figure out what makes them tick.  When they ooze greed, do not appeal to charity; when they want to look charitable and noble, do not appeal to their greed.

14. Pose as a friend, work as a spy.

Knowing about your rival is critical. Use spies to gather valuable information that will keep you a step ahead. Better still: Play the spy yourself. In polite social encounters, learn to probe. Ask indirect questions to get people to reveal their weaknesses and intentions. There is no occasion that is not an opportunity for artful spying.

  • During social gatherings and innocuous encounters, pay attention.  This is when people’s guards are down, and they will reveal things.
  • Give a false confession, and someone else will give you a real one.
  • Contradict others to stir them to emotion and lose control of their words.

15. Crush your enemy totally.

All great leaders since Moses have known that a feared enemy must be crushed completely. (Sometimes they have learned this the hard way.) If one ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders, a fire will eventually break out. More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation: The enemy will recover, and will seek revenge. Crush him, not only in body but in spirit.

  • Recognize that you will accumulate enemies who you cannot bring over to your side, and that to leave them any escape will mean you are never secure.  Crush them completely.

16. Use absence to increase respect and honour.

Too much circulation makes the price go down: The more you are seen and heard from, the more common you appear. If you are already established in a group, temporary withdrawal from it will make you more talked about, even more admired. You must learn when to leave. Create value through scarcity.

  • The truth of this law can most easily be appreciated in matters of love and seduction.
  • Another example of this law exists in economics - scarcity increases value.
  • Note: this law only applies once a certain level of power has been attained.  Leave too early and you do not increase respect, you are simply forgotten. Similarly, absence is only effective in love and seduction once you have surrounded the other with your image.
  • In the beginning, make yourself not scarce but omnipresent.

17. Keep others in suspended terror: cultivate an air of unpredictability.

Humans are creatures of habit with an insatiable need to see familiarity in other people’s actions. Your predictability gives them a sense of control. Turn the tables: Be deliberately unpredictable. Behavior that seems to have no consistency or purpose will keep them off-balance, and they will wear themselves out trying to explain your moves. Taken to an extreme, this strategy can intimidate and terrorize.

  • Unsettle those around you and keep the initiative by being unpredictable.
  • Predictability and patterns can be used as a tool when deceiving.

18. Do not build fortresses to protect yourself - isolation is dangerous.

The world is dangerous and enemies are everywhere—everyone has to protect themselves. A fortress seems the safest. But isolation exposes you to more dangers than it Protects you from—it cuts you off from valuable information, it makes you conspicuous and an easy target. Better to circulate among people, find allies, mingle. You are shielded from your enemies by the crowd.

  • Retreat to a fortress and you lose contact with your sources of power, and your knowledge of what is going on.
  • If you need time to think, then choose isolation as a last resort, and only in small doses.

19. Know who you’re dealing with - do not offend the wrong person.

There are many different kinds of people in the world, and you can never assume that everyone will react to your strategies in the same way. Deceive or outmaneuver some people and they will spend the rest of their lives seeking revenge. They are wolves in lambs’ clothing. Choose your victims and opponents carefully, then—never of fend or deceive the wrong person.

Being able to recognize the type of person you’re dealing with is critical.  Here are the five most dangerous:

  • The Arrogant and Proud Man: any perceived slight will invite vengeance.  Flee these people.
  • The Hopelessly Insecure Man: similar to the proud man, but will take revenge in smaller bites over time.  Do not stay around him if you have harmed or deceived him.
  • Mr. Suspicion: sees the worst in others and imagines that everyone is after him.  Easy to deceive - get him to turn on others.
  • The Serpent with a Long Memory: if hurt, he will show no anger, but will calculate and wait. Recognize by his calculation and cunning in other areas of life - he is usually cold and unaffectionate.  Crush him completely or flee.
  • The Plain, Unassuming, and Often Unintelligent Man: this man will not take the bait because he does not recognize it. Do not waste your resources trying to deceive him.  Have a test ready for a mark - a joke, a story. If reaction is literal, this is the type you are dealing with.

Never rely on instincts when judging someone; instead gather concrete knowledge.  Also never trust appearances.

20. Do not commit to anyone.

It is the fool who always rushes to take sides. Do not commit to any side or cause but yourself. By maintaining your independence, you become the master of others—playing people against one another, making them pursue you.

Part 1: Do not commit to anyone, but be courted by all.

  • Stay aloof and gain the power that comes from attention and frustrated desire.

Part 2: Do not commit to anyone - stay above the fray.

  • Do not let others drag you into their fights.  Seem interested and supportive, but neutral.
  • Staying neutral allows you to keep initiative, and take advantage of the situation when one side starts to lose.
  • You only have so much time and energy - every moment wasted on affairs of others subtracts from your strength.
  • Make sure to maintain emotional objectivity in the affairs of others.

21. Play a sucker to catch a sucker - seem dumber than your mark.

No one likes feeling stupider than the next person. The trick, then, is to make your victims feel smart—and not just smart, but smarter than you are. Once convinced of this, they will never suspect that you may have ulterior motives.

  • Intelligence, taste and sophistication are all things you should downplay, or reassure others that they are more advanced than you.

22. Use the surrender tactic: transform weakness into power.

When you are weaker, never fight for honor’s sake; choose surrender instead. Surrender gives you time to recover, time to torment and irritate your conqueror, time to wait for his power to wane. Do not give him the satisfaction of fighting and defeating you—surrender first. By turning the other cheek you infuriate and unsettle him. Make surrender a tool of power.

  • The essence of the surrender tactic: inwardly you stay firm, but outwardly you bend.  Your enemy will be bewildered when properly executed, as they will be expecting retaliation.

23. Concentrate your forces.

Conserve your forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at their strongest point. You gain more by finding a rich mine and mining it deeper, than by flitting from one shallow mine to another—intensity defeats extensity every time. When looking for sources of power to elevate you, find the one key patron, the fat cow who will give you milk for a long time to come.

  • Concentrate on a single goal, a single task, and beat it into submission.
  • Note: when fighting a stronger enemy, you must be prepared to dissolve your forces and be elusive.

24. Play the perfect courtier.

The perfect courtier thrives in a world where everything revolves around power and political dexterity. He has mastered the art of indirection; he flatters, yields to superiors, and asserts power over others in the most oblique and graceful manner. Learn and apply the laws of courtiership and there will be no limit to how far you can rise in the court.

The Laws of Court Politics

  • Avoid Ostentation: modesty is always preferable.
  • Practice Nonchalance: never appear to be working too hard; your talent must appear to flow naturally, with ease.  Showing your blood and toil is a form of ostentation.
  • Be Frugal with Flattery: flatter indirectly by being modest.
  • Arrange to be Noticed: pay attention to your appearance, and find a way to create a subtly distinctive style and image.
  • Alter Your Style and Language According to the Person You’re Dealing With: acting the same with all will be seen as condescension by those below you, and offend those above you.
  • Never Be the Bearer of Bad News: the messenger is always killed.  Bring only glad news.
  • Never Affect Friendliness and Intimacy with Your Master: he does not want a friend for a subordinate.
  • Never Criticize Those Above You Directly: err on the side of subtlety and gentleness.
  • Be Frugal in Asking Those Above You for Favours: it is always better to earn your favours.  Do not ask for favours on another person’s behalf.
  • Never Joke About Appearances or Taste
  • Do Not Be the Court Cynic: express admiration for the good work of others.
  • Be Self-Observant: you must train yourself to evaluate your own actions.
  • Master Your Emotions
  • Fit the Spirit of the Times: your spirit and way of thinking must keep up with the times, even if the times offend your sensibilities.
  • Be a Source of Pleasure: if you cannot be the life of the party, at least obscure your less desirable qualities. ‍

25. Re-create yourself.

Do not accept the roles that society foists on you. Re-create yourself by forging a new identity, one that commands attention and never bores the audience. Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define it for you. Incorporate dramatic devices into your public gestures and actions—your power will be enhanced and your character will seem larger than life.

  • The first step in the process of self-creation is being aware of yourself and taking control of your appearances and emotions.
  • The second step is the creation of a memorable character that compels attention and stands above the others on the stage.
  • Rhythm, timing and tempo over time also contribute greatly to the creation of a character.
  • Appreciate the importance of stage entrances and exits.

26. Keep your hands clean.

You must seem a paragon of civility and efficiency: Your hands are never soiled by mistakes and nasty deeds. Maintain such a spotless appearance by using others as scapegoats and cat’s-paws to disguise your involvement.

Part 1: Conceal your mistakes - have a scapegoat to take the blame.

  • It is often wise to choose the most innocent victim possible as a sacrificial goat.  Be careful, however, not to create a martyr.
  • A close associate is often the best choice - the “fall of the favourite”.

Part 2: Make use of the cat’s-paw.

  • Use those around you to complete dirty tasks to hide your intentions and accomplish your goals while keeping your hands clean.
  • An essential element in this strategy is concealing your goal.
  • Devices like this are best for approaching those in power, or planting information.
  • You may also offer yourself as the cat’s-paw to gain power.
  • Note: you must be very careful in using this tactic, as being revealed would be disastrous.

27. Play on people’s need to believe to create a cult like following.

People have an overwhelming desire to believe in something. Become the focal point of such desire by offering them a cause, a new faith to follow. Keep your words vague but full of promise ; emphasize enthusiasm over rationality and clear thinking. Give your new disciples rituals to perform, ask them to make sacrifices on your behalf. In the absence of organized religion and grand causes, your new belief system will bring you untold power.

How to create a cult in 5 easy steps:

  • Keep It Vague, Keep it Simple: use words to attract attention, with great enthusiasm.  Fancy titles for simple things are helpful, as are the use of numbers and the creation of new words for vague concepts.  All of these create the impression of specialized knowledge. People want to hear there is a simple solution to their problems.
  • Emphasize the Visual and the Sensual over the Intellectual: Boredom and skepticism are two dangers you must counter.  The best way to do this is through theatre, creating a spectacle.  Appeal to all the senses, and use the exotic.
  • Borrow the Forms of Organized Religion to Structure the Group: create rituals, organize followers into hierarchy, rank them in grades of sanctity, give them names and titles, ask them for sacrifices that fill your coffers and increase your power.  Talk and act like a prophet.
  • Disguise Your Source of Income: make your wealth seem to come from the truth of your methods.
  • Set Up an Us-Versus-Them Dynamic: first make sure your followers believe they are part of an exclusive club, unified by common goals.  Then, manufacture the notion of a devious enemy out to ruin you.
  • People are not interested in the truth about change - that it requires hard work - but rather they are dying to believe something romantic, otherworldly.
  • The most effective cults mix religion with science.

28. Enter action with boldness.

If you are unsure of a course of action, do not attempt it. Your doubts and hesitations will infect your execution. Timidity is dangerous: Better to enter with boldness. Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity. Everyone admires the bold; no one honors the timid.

Some of the most pronounced psychological effects of boldness and timidity:

  • The Bolder the Lie the Better: the sheer audacity of a bold lie makes the story more credible, distracting from its inconsistencies.  When entering a negotiation, ask for the moon and you’ll be surprised how often you get it.
  • Lions Circle the Hesitant Prey: everything depends on perception, and if on a first encounter you demonstrate a willingness to compromise, back down, and retreat, you will be pushed around without mercy.
  • Boldness Strikes Fear; Fear Creates Authority: the bold move makes you seem larger and more powerful than you are.  If it comes suddenly, with stealth and swiftness, it inspires much more than fear - you will be intimidating, and people will be on the defensive in future.
  • Going Halfway with Half a Heart Digs the Deeper Grave: if you enter action with less than total confidence, problems will cause you to grow confused rather than pushing through.
  • Hesitation Creates Gaps, Boldness Obliterates Them: when you take time to think, you create a gap that allows others time to think as well.  Boldness leaves others no space to doubt and worry.
  • Audacity Separates You from the Herd: the bold draw attention, and seem larger than life.  We cannot keep our eyes off the audacious.
  • Most of us are timid.  We want to avoid tension and conflict and be liked by all.  We are terrified of consequences, what others might think of us, and the hostility we will stir up if we dare go beyond our usual place.
  • You must practice and develop your boldness. The place to begin is in negotiations.  How often we ask too little.
  • Remember: the problems created by an audacious move can be disguised, even remedied, by more and greater audacity.

29. Plan all the way to the end.

The ending is everything. Plan all the way to it, taking into account all the possible consequences, obstacles, and twists of fortune that might reverse your hard work and give the glory to others. By planning to the end you will not be overwhelmed by circumstances and you will know when to stop. Gently guide fortune and help determine the future by thinking far ahead.

  • The ending is everything - it is the end of action that determines who gets the glory, the money, the prize.  Your conclusion must be crystal clear, and you must keep it constantly in mind.

30. Make your accomplishments seem effortless.

  • Your actions must seem natural and executed with ease. All the toil and practice that go into them, and also all the clever tricks, must be concealed. When you act, act effortlessly, as if you could do much more. Avoid the temptation of revealing how hard you work—it only raises questions. Teach no one your tricks or they will be used against you.
  • Some think exposure to how hard they work and practice demonstrates diligence and honesty, but really it just shows weakness.
  • Sprezzatura: the capacity to make the difficult seem easy.
  • What is understandable is not awe-inspiring.  The more mystery surrounds your actions, the more awesome your power seems.  
  • You appear to be the only one who can do what you do, and because you achieve accomplishments with grace and ease, people believe that you can always do more.

31. Control the options: get others to play with the cards you deal.

The best deceptions are the ones that seem to give the other person a choice: Your victims feel they are in control, but are actually your puppets. Give people options that come out in your favor whichever one they choose. Force them to make choices between the lesser of two evils, both of which serve your purpose. Put them on the horns of a dilemma: They are gored wherever they turn.

  • Withdrawal and disappearance are classic ways of controlling the options.  You give people a sense of how things will fall apart without you, and you offer them the choice: I stay away and you suffer, or I return under my conditions.
  • We actually find choices between a small number of alternatives more desirable than complete freedom of options.

The following are among the most common forms of controlling the options:

  • Color the Choices: Propose multiple solutions, but present the preferred one in the best light compared to the others.  Excellent device for the insecure master.
  • Force the Resister: This is a good technique to use on children and other willful people who enjoy doing the opposite of what you ask them to: Push them to choose what you want them to do by appearing to advocate the opposite.
  • Alter the Playing Field: In this tactic your opponents know their hand is being forced, but it doesn’t matter. The technique is effective against those who resist at all costs.
  • The Shrinking Options: A variation on this technique is to raise the price every time the buyer hesitates and another day goes by. This is an excellent negotiating ploy to use on the chronically indecisive, who will fall for the idea that they are getting a better deal today than if they wait till tomorrow.
  • The Weak Man on the Precipice: He would describe all sorts of dangers, exaggerating them as much as possible, until the duke saw a yawning abyss in every direction except one: the one Retz was pushing him to take. This tactic is similar to "Color the Choices," but with the weak you have to be more aggressive. Work on their emotions—use fear and terror to propel them into action. Try reason and they will always find a way to procrastinate.
  • Brothers in Crime: This is a classic con-artist technique: You attract your victims to some criminal scheme, creating a bond of blood and guilt between you. They participate in your deception, commit a crime (or think they do), and are easily manipulated. It is often wise to implicate in your deceptions the very person who can do you the most harm if you fail. Their involvement can be subtle—even a hint of their involvement will narrow their options and buy their silence.
  • The Horns of a Dilemma: This is a classic trial lawyer’s technique: The lawyer leads the witnesses to decide between two possible explanations of an event, both of which poke a hole in their story. They have to answer the lawyer’s questions, but whatever they say they hurt themselves. The key to this move is to strike quickly: Deny the victim the time to think of an escape. As they wriggle between the horns of the dilemma, they dig their own grave.
  • Controlling the options has one main purpose: to disguise yourself as the agent of power and punishment.

32. Play to people’s fantasies.

The truth is often avoided because it is ugly and unpleasant. Never appeal to truth and reality unless you are prepared for the anger that comes from disenchantment. Life is so harsh and distressing that people who can manufacture romance or conjure up fantasy are like oases in the desert: Everyone flocks to them. There is great power in tapping into the fantasies of the masses.

  • Never promise a gradual improvement through hard work; rather, promise the moon, the great and sudden transformation, the pot of gold.
  • The key to fantasy is distance - the distance has allure and promise, seems simple and problem free.  What you are offering, then, should be ungraspable. Never let it become oppressively familiar.

33. Discover each man’s thumbscrew.

Everyone has a weakness, a gap in the castle wall. That weakness is usually an insecurity, an uncontrollable emotion or need; it can also be a small secret pleasure. Either way, once found, it is a thumbscrew you can turn to your advantage.

How to find weaknesses:

  • Pay Attention to Gestures and Unconscious Signals: everyday conversation is a great place to look.  Start by always seeming interested. Offer a revelation of your own if needed. Probe for suspected weaknesses indirectly.  Train your eyes for details.
  • Find the Helpless Child: knowing about a childhood can often reveal weaknesses, or when they revert to acting like a child.
  • Look for Contrasts: an overt trait often conceals its opposite. The shy crave attention, the uptight want adventure, etc.
  • Find the Weak Link: find the person who will bend under pressure, or the one who pulls strings behind the scenes.
  • Fill the Void: the two main emotional voids are insecurity and unhappiness.
  • Feed on Uncontrollable Emotions: the uncontrollable emotion can be a paranoid fear or any base motive such as lust, greed, vanity or hatred.
  • Always look for passions and obsessions that cannot be controlled.  The stronger the passion, the more vulnerable the person.
  • People’s need for validation and recognition, their need to feel important, is the best kind of weakness to exploit.  To do so, all you need to do is find ways to make people feel better about their taste, their social standing, their intelligence.
  • Timidity can be exploited by pushing them into bold actions that serve your needs while also making them dependent on you.

34. Be royal in your own fashion: act like a king to be treated like one.

The way you carry yourself will often determine how you are treated: In the long run, appearing vulgar or common will make people disrespect you. For a king respects himself and inspires the same sentiment in others. By acting regally and confident of your powers, you make yourself seem destined to wear a crown.

  • How you carry yourself reflects what you think of yourself.
  • Use The Strategy of the Crown - if we believe we are destined for great things, our belief will radiate outward, just as a crown creates an aura around a king.
  • The trick is simple: be overcome by your self-belief.
  • This may separate you from people, but that’s the point.  You must always act with dignity, though this should not be confused with arrogance.
  • Dignity is the mask you assume that makes it as if nothing can affect you, and you have all the time in the world to respond.

There are other strategies to help:

  • The Columbus Strategy : always make a bold demand.  Set your price high and do not waver.
  • The David and Goliath Strategy: go after the highest person in the building.  This immediately puts you on the same plane as the chief executive you are attacking.
  • The Patron Strategy: give a gift of some sort to those above you.

35. Master the art of timing.

Never seem to be in a hurry-hurrying betrays a lack of control over yourself, and over time. Always seem patient, as if you know that everything will come to you eventually. Become a detective of the right moment; sniff out the spirit of the times, the trends that will carry you to power. Learn to stand back when the time is not yet ripe, and to strike fiercely when it has reached fruition.

Three types of time and how to deal with them:

  • Long Time: be patient, control your emotions, and take advantage of opportunities when they arise.  You will gain long-term perspective and see further in the future.
  • Forced Time: the trick in forcing time is to upset the timing of others - to make them hurry, make them wait, make them abandon their own pace.  Use the deadline, apply sudden pressure, change pace to use this.
  • End Time: patience is useless unless combined with a willingness to act decisively at the right moment. Use speed to paralyze your opponents, cover any mistakes, and impress people with your aura of authority and finality.

36. Disdain things you cannot have: ignoring them is the best revenge.

By acknowledging a petty problem you give it existence and credibility. The more attention you pay an enemy, the stronger you make him; and a small mistake is often made worse and more visible when you try to fix it. It is sometimes best to leave things alone. If there is something you want but cannot have, show contempt for it. The less interest you reveal, the more superior you seem.

  • Desire creates paradoxical effects: the more you want something, the more you chase after it, the more it eludes you.  You need to do the reverse: turn your back on what you want, show your contempt and disdain to create desire.
  • Instead of focusing attention on a problem, it is often better not to acknowledge it’s existence:
  • Sour-grapes approach: act as if something never really interested you in the first place.
  • When attacked, look away, answer sweetly, and show how little the attack concerns you.  
  • Treat it lightly if you have committed a blunder.
  • Note: make sure to show the above publicly, but to monitor the problem privately, making sure it is remedied.

37. Create compelling spectacles.

Striking imagery and grand symbolic gestures create the aura of power—everyone responds to them. Stage spectacles for those around you, then, full of arresting visuals and radiant symbols that heighten your presence. Dazzled by appearances, no one will notice what you are really doing.

  • Words often go astray, but symbols and the visual strike with emotional power and immediacy.
  • Find an associate yourself with powerful images and symbols to gain power.
  • Most effective of all is a new combination - a fusion of images and symbols that have not been seen together before, but that clearly demonstrate your new idea, message, religion.

38. Think as you like but behave like others.

  • If you make a show of going against the times, flaunting your unconventional ideas and unorthodox ways, people will think that you only want attention and that you look down upon them. They will find a way to punish you for making them feel inferior. It is far safer to blend in and nurture the common touch. Share your originality only with tolerant friends and those who are sure to appreciate your uniqueness.
  • Flaunting your pleasure in alien ways of thinking and acting will reveal a different motive - to demonstrate your superiority over your fellows.
  • Wise and clever people learn early on that they can display conventional behavior and mouth conventional ideas without having to believe in them. The power these people gain from blending in is that of being left alone to have the thoughts they want to have, and to express them to the people they want to express them to, without suffering isolation or ostracism.
  • The only time it is worth standing out is when you already stand out—when you have achieved an unshakable position of power, and can display your difference from others as a sign of the distance between you.

39. Stir up waters to catch fish.

Anger and emotion are strategically counterproductive. You must always stay calm and objective. But if you can make your enemies angry while staying calm yourself, you gain a decided advantage. Put your enemies off-balance: Find the chink in their vanity through which you can rattle them and you hold the strings.

  • This is the essence of the Law: When the waters are still, your opponents have the time and space to plot actions that they will initiate and control. So stir the waters, force the fish to the surface, get them to act before they are ready, steal the initiative. The best way to do this is to play on uncontrollable emotions—pride, vanity, love, hate.
  • Angry people end up looking ridiculous.  It is comical how much they take personally, and more comical how they belief that outbursts signify power.
  • We should not repress our angry or emotional responses, but rather that realize in the social realm, and the game of power, nothing is personal.
  • Reveal an apparent weakness to lure your opponent into action.
  • In the face of someone angry, nothing is more infuriating than someone who keeps his cool while others are losing theirs.
  • Note: do not provoke those who are too powerful.
  • There are times when a burst of anger can do good, but it must be manufactured and under your control.

40. Despise the free lunch.

What is offered for free is dangerous-it usually involves either a trick or a hidden obligation. What has worth is worth paying for. By paying your own way you stay clear of gratitude, guilt, and deceit. It is also often wise to pay the full price—there is no cutting corners with excellence. Be lavish with your money and keep it circulating, for generosity is a sign and a magnet for power.

  • What is offered for free often has a psychological price tag - complicated feelings of obligation, compromises with quality, the insecurity those compromises bring, on and on.  By paying the full price, you keep your independence and room to maneuver.
  • Being open and flexible with money also teaches the value of strategic generosity.

Avoid these people who fail to use money creatively and strategically, or turn their inflexibility to your advantage:

  • The Greedy Fish. The greedy fish take the human side out of money. Cold and ruthless, they see only the lifeless balance sheet; viewing others solely as either pawns or obstructions in their pursuit of wealth, they trample on people’s sentiments and alienate valuable allies. No one wants to work with the greedy fish, and over the years they end up isolated, which often proves their undoing. Easy to deceive with promise of money.
  • The Bargain Demon. Powerful people judge everything by what it costs, not just in money but in time, dignity, and peace of mind. And this is exactly what Bargain Demons cannot do. Wasting valuable time digging for bargains, they worry endlessly about what they could have gotten elsewhere for a little less. Just avoid these types.
  • The Sadist. Financial sadists play vicious power games with money as a way of asserting their power. They believe the money they give you allows them to abuse your time.  Accept a financial loss instead of getting entangled.
  • The Indiscriminate Giver. These people give to everyone, and as a result no one feels special.  Appealing as a mark, but you will often feel burdened by their emotional need.
  • Never let lust for money lure you from true power.  Make power your goal and money will find it’s way to you.
  • Note: bait your deceptions with the possibility of easy money, and many will fall for it.

41. Avoid stepping into a great man’s shoes.

What happens first always appears better and more original than what comes after. If you succeed a great man or have a famous parent, you will have to accomplish double their achievements to outshine them. Do not get lost in their shadow, or stuck in a past not of your own making: Establish your own name and identity by changing course. Slay the overbearing father, disparage his legacy, and gain power by shining in your own way.

  • If you cannot start materially from ground zero - it would be foolish to renounce an inheritance- you can at least begin from ground zero psychologically.
  • Never let yourself be seen as following your predecessor’s path.  You must physically demonstrate your difference, by establishing a style and symbolism that set you apart.
  • Repeating actions will not re-create success, because circumstances never repeat themselves exactly.
  • Success and power make us lazy - you must reset psychologically to counter this laziness.

42. Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter.

Trouble can often be traced to a single strong individual —the stirrer, the arrogant underling, the poisoner of goodwill. If you allow such people room to operate, others will succumb to their influence. Do not wait for the troubles they cause to multiply, do not try to negotiate with them—they are irredeemable. Neutralize their influence by isolating or banishing them. Strike at the source of the trouble and the sheep will scatter.

  • In every group, power is concentrated in the hands of one or two people.
  • When troubles arise, find the source, and isolate them - physically, politically or psychologically.  Separate them from their power base.

43. Work on the hearts and minds of others.

Coercion creates a reaction that will eventually work against you. You must seduce others into wanting to move in your direction. A person you have seduced becomes your loyal pawn. And the way to seduce others is to operate on their individual psychologies and weaknesses. Soften up the resistant by working on their emotions, playing on what they hold dear and what they fear. Ignore the hearts and minds of others and they will grow to hate you.

  • Remember: The key to persuasion is softening people up and breaking them down, gently. Seduce them with a two-pronged approach: Work on their emotions and play on their intellectual weaknesses. Be alert to both what separates them from everyone else (their individual psychology) and what they share with everyone else (their basic emotional responses). Aim at the primary emotions—love, hate, jealousy. Once you move their emotions you have reduced their control, making them more vulnerable to persuasion.
  • Play on contrasts: push people to despair, then give them relief. If they expect pain and you give them pleasure, you win their hearts.
  • Symbolic gestures of self-sacrifice can win sympathy and goodwill.
  • The quickest way to secure people’s minds is by demonstrating, as simply as possible, how an action will benefit them.

44. Disarm and infuriate with the mirror effect.

The mirror reflects reality, but it is also the perfect tool for deception: When you mirror your enemies, doing exactly as they do, they cannot figure out your strategy. The Mirror Effect mocks and humiliates them, making them overreact. By holding up a mirror to their psyches, you seduce them with the illusion that you share their values; by holding up a mirror to their actions, you teach them a lesson. Few can resist the power of the Mirror Effect.

  • Mirror Effects can disturb or entrance others, giving you power to manipulate or seduce them.

There are four main Mirror effects:

  • The Neutralizing Effect: do what your enemies do, following their actions as best you can, and they are blinded.  A reverse version is the Shadow - shadow your opponents every move without them seeing you.
  • The Narcissus Effect: look into the desires, values, tastes, spirit of others, and reflect it back to them.
  • The Moral Effect: teach others by giving them a taste of their own medicine. They must realize you are doing to them the same thing they did to you.
  • The Hallucinatory Effect: create a perfect copy of an object, a place, a person, that people take for the real thing, because it has the physical appearance of the real thing.
  • Understand: Everyone is wrapped up in their own narcissistic shell. When you try to impose your own ego on them, a wall goes up, resistance is increased. By mirroring them, however, you seduce them into a kind of narcissistic rapture: They are gazing at a double of their own soul. This double is actually manufactured in its entirety by you. Once you have used the mirror to seduce them, you have great power over them.
  • One way to create a mirror for someone is to teach them a lesson through an analogy, avoiding the reactionary increase in resistance you’d encounter if brought up directly.
  • Note: avoid mirrored situations you don’t understand, as those involved will quickly see through it, and the mirrored situation will not live up to the original.

45. Preach the need for change, but never reform too much at once.

Everyone understands the need for change in the abstract, but on the day-to-day level people are creatures of habit. Too much innovation is traumatic, and will lead to revolt. If you are new to a position of power, or an outsider trying to build a power base, make a show of respecting the old way of doing things. If change is necessary, make it feel like a gentle improvement on the past.

  • Borrow the weight and legitimacy from the past, however remote, to create a comforting and familiar presence.
  • Humans desire change in the abstract, or superficial change, but a change that upsets core habits and routines is deeply disturbing to them.
  • Understand: The fact that the past is dead and buried gives you the freedom to reinterpret it. To support your cause, tinker with the facts. The past is a text in which you can safely insert your own lines.
  • A simple gesture like using an old title, or keeping the same number for a group, will tie you to the past and support you with the authority of history.

46. Never appear too perfect.

Appearing better than others is always dangerous, but most dangerous of all is to appear to have no faults or weaknesses. Envy creates silent enemies. It is smart to occasionally display defects, and admit to harmless vices, in order to deflect envy and appear more human and approachable. Only gods and the dead can seem perfect with impunity.

  • Either dampen your brilliance occasionally, purposefully revealing a defect, weakness, or anxiety, or attributing your success to luck; or simply find yourself new friends. Never underestimate the power of envy.
  • The envy of the masses can be deflected quite easily - appear as one of them in style and values.  Never flaunt your wealth, and carefully conceal the degree to which it has bought influence. Make a display of deferring to others, as if they were more powerful than you.
  • Use envy to motivate you to greater heights.
  • Keep a wary eye for envy in those below you as you grow more successful.
  • Expect that those envious of you will work against you.
  • Emphasize luck, and do not adopt a false modesty that will be seen through.
  • Deflect envy of political power by not seeming ambitious.  
  • Disguise your power as a kind of self-sacrifice rather than a source of happiness for you.  Emphasize your troubles and you turn potential envy into a source of moral support (pity).
  • Beware signs of envy: excessive praise, hypercritical people, public slandering.
  • Note: once envy is present, it is sometimes best to display the utmost disdain for those who envy you.

47. Do not go past the mark you aimed for; in victory, learn when to stop.

The moment of victory is often the moment of greatest peril. In the heat of victory, arrogance and overconfidence can push you past the goal you had aimed for, and by going too far, you make more enemies than you defeat. Do not allow success to go to your head. There is no substitute for strategy and careful planning. Set a goal, and when you reach it, stop.

  • Understand: In the realm of power, you must be guided by reason. To let a momentary thrill or an emotional victory influence or guide your moves will prove fatal. When you attain success, step back. Be cautious. When you gain victory, understand the part played by the particular circumstances of a situation, and never simply repeat the same actions again and again. History is littered with the ruins of victorious empires and the corpses of leaders who could not learn to stop and consolidate their gains.
  • The powerful vary their rhythms and patterns, change course, adapt to circumstance, and learn to improvise.  They control their emotions, and step back and come to a mental halt when they have attained success.
  • Good luck is more dangerous than bad luck, because it deludes you into thinking your own brilliance is the reason for your success.
  • Note: There are some who become more cautious than ever after a victory, which they see as just giving them more possessions to worry about and protect. Your caution after victory should never make you hesitate, or lose momentum, but rather act as a safeguard against rash action. On the other hand, momentum as a phenomenon is greatly overrated. You create your own successes, and if they follow one upon the other, it is your own doing. Belief in momentum will only make you emotional, less prone to act strategically, and more apt to repeat the same methods. Leave momentum for those who have nothing better to rely upon.

48. Assume formlessness.

By taking a shape, by having a visible plan, you open yourself to attack. Instead of taking a form for your enemy to grasp, keep yourself adaptable and on the move. Accept the fact that nothing is certain and no law is fixed. The best way to protect yourself is to be as fluid and formless as water; never bet on stability or lasting order. Everything changes.

  • The powerful are constantly creating form, and their power comes from the rapidity with which they can change.
  • The first psychological requirement of formlessness is to train yourself to take nothing personally.  Never show any defensiveness.
  • When you find yourself in conflict with someone stronger and more rigid, allow them a momentary victory.  Seem to bow to their superiority. Then, by being formless, slowly insinuate yourself.
  • The need for formlessness becomes greater as we age, as we become more likely to become set in our ways and assume too rigid a form.  As you get older, you must rely even less on the past.
  • Remember: Formlessness is a tool. Never confuse it with a go-with-the-flow style, or with a religious resignation to the twists of fortune. You use formlessness, not because it creates inner harmony and peace, but because it will increase your power.
  • Finally, learning to adapt to each new circumstance means seeing events through your own eyes, and often ignoring the advice that people constantly peddle your way. It means that ultimately you must throw out the laws that others preach, and the books they write to tell you what to do, and the sage advice of the elder.
  • Note: when you do finally engage an enemy, hit them with a powerful, concentrated blow.

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The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene: Summary & Insights

Reading Time: 10 minutes

48 Laws of Power Summary

The 48 Laws of Power is a candid and controversial examination of power and its many dynamics. If you want to understand people and ascend in the world, this book is a good starting place.

You’ll learn about the nature of power, how to acquire it, and the dark ways in which people operate in the world. And in doing so, you’ll understand how to leverage power to get what you want, ideally using that knowledge to better the world.

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Key Takeaways

What does the 48 laws of power teach you.

Many people spend their lives trying to gain power. Most of us avoid confronting the power-hungry nature of people and end up getting up left behind in our blissful ignorance.

The truth is that power is an inevitable part of life, and it’s better to be adept at it than to pretend it does not exist. While there are many techniques for acquiring power, they distill down into a discrete set of laws of power that can be learned.

Robert Greene does a masterful job of leveraging history and stories to show you the many facets of power and how to acquire it via the 48 laws.

Why is the 48 Laws of Power banned in prisons?

The lessons in Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power are considered so dangerous that the book has been banned from some prisons so that people cannot learn things that they can use to enact harm on people and the world.

But concealing the lessons of the book is a bad strategy for stopping the spread of the ideas. If anything, these types of bans have increased interest in the book and the popularity of the dark topic of power.

Is the 48 Laws of Power Worth Reading?

In short, yes. The beauty of learning the laws of power is that you can use this knowledge for good. You can use it to avoid bad actors, motivate people, and create a better world.

The 48 Laws of Power in Order

Law 1:   never outshine the master.

Shine light on the people above you. Never try to outsmart your master or display too many of your talents. That will only engender fear and insecurity.

You want to do is to make the people above you appear more brilliant than they are. Let them feel comfortably superior.

Law 2:   Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use enemies

It may seem paradoxical, but you should fear your friends more than your enemies. Friends can be great, but they can also become envious and betray you if you let your guard down.

Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions

Keep people on their toes by never revealing your true intentions. You can use tactics like feigning indifference, sending unclear signals, talking about goals, emphasizing truth, and selective honesty.

No one will know what you’re really up to, and without that knowledge, they won’t be able to create any reliable defense.

Law 4: Always   say less than necessary

Saying little creates mystery and an air of profundity that often leads you to gain status and acquire valuable information, all while revealing very little about yourself. Plus, if you talk too much, you may end up saying the wrong thing or coming off as ordinary.

Law 5: So much depends on   reputation, guard it with your life

Your reputation is one of your most important assets. Choose one good quality to build a reputation on and build an invulnerable case for it.

Your reputation is particularly powerful because it can provide you with a lot of value with little extra effort once it’s built. But reputation can be destroyed with even small infractions, so guard yourself against people who try to destroy it.

Law 6: Court attention at all costs

It’s easy to get lost in the crowd or to be timid in your actions because of what other people might think. But the truth is, you want to stand out.

You want to court attention from a wide group of people. Be bold and decisive and mysterious so that people notice you. Even negative attention helps you out in the long run.

Law 7:   Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit

Getting others to do your bidding is a great way to save time and effort. There is no use in doing something yourself that you can get someone else to do. Learn how to get people on your side, and take the credit you get from doing what seems like an ungodly amount.

Law 8: Make other people come to you, use bait if necessary

When you make other people come to you, you have the advantage. Never go play on someone else’s turf. Find clever ways to get people in your arena.

Law 9:   Win through your actions, never through argument

Even when you win an argument, the prize is often temporary because the person on the other side often becomes resentful. So instead of using your words, use your actions to prove what you want to prove. It’s a more powerful strategy that will lead to better long-term results.

Law 10: Infection:   Avoid the unhappy or the unlucky

Emotions are contagious. Don’t surround yourself with miserable people or those who have been unfortunate. The misery and suffering may bring you down.

Law 11: Learn to   keep people dependent on you

Always make sure that other people rely on you for their well-being and happiness. You can make people dependent on you in two ways: extensive actions (wide involvement) or intensive actions (deep involvement).

Law 12: Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim

You can disarm someone by using selective honesty and generosity, even if you do it just one time. Even a single act of perceived goodwill can shield you from many dishonest or selfish acts with that same person in the future.

Law 13: When asking for help,   appeal to people’s self interest, never their mercy or gratitude

Show people what they will gain by helping you. Don’t try to convince them with what you’ve done for them in the past. It’s best to show people how they will personally benefit, rather than relying on trading favors.

Law 14: Pose as a friend, work as a spy

Especially with your enemies, learn about them by becoming their friend. They will be disarmed as you collect information that you can later use to your advantage.

Law 15: Crush your enemy totally

Make it so that your enemy cannot recover. If there is a chance of recovery, your former enemy will find a way to get back at you. It’s best to destroy him entirely the first time around. Fear creates authority for your future battles.

Law 16: Use absence to increase strength and honor

You know the phrase: absence makes the heart grow fonder. To avoid being seen as common, be around in the beginning, make a big splash, and then withdraw. People will be left wanting more of you. This is particularly effective in seduction.

Law 17: Keep others in suspended terror,   cultivate an air of unpredictability

Keep people off-balance by being unpredictable. If they don’t know what comes next, that will work to your advantage. Keeping your words vague and occasionally uttering ambiguous phrases to keep people wondering about what you’re all about.

Law 18: Do not build a fortress to protect yourself,   isolation is dangerous

Isolation leaves you with little information and makes you vulnerable to being attacked. It’s better to be out in the open, hearing what’s going on and relying on the crowd to protect you from any attacks.

Law 19: Know who you’re dealing with,   do not offend the wrong person

Never offend people’s intellectual identity, appearance, or taste. You never know who is around you, and people take their own reputations very seriously. It is a decided advantage to stay low on people’s radars while gathering information, contacts, and resources.

Law 20: Do not commit to anyone

Never take sides. Only commit to serving yourself and your own image. If you commit yourself to the wrong person and the wrong path, you may not be able to recover from this blunder. So it’s best to always remember your own cause and to pursue it vigorously.

Law 21: Play a sucker to catch a sucker,   seem dumber than your mark

Always make people think they are smarter than you. If they feel smarter, they won’t expect that you have ulterior motives or that you’re even capable of what you’re planning.

One way to do this is to occasionally display defects so that people do not expect you of being a threat or someone savvy enough to threaten their position.

Law 22: Use the surrender tactic:   transform weakness into power

If you’re going to lose, surrender instead of fighting until you’re annihilated. If you’re annihilated, you have no chance of winning. With the surrender tactic, you may have time to recover and find a new strategy to win.

Law 23: Concentrate your forces

When you find an extremely influential person or strategy, milk that entirely. Do not focus on small sources that provide you with a little bit of benefit. It’s better to put all of your efforts into the things that work the most.

Law 24: Play the perfect courtier

Learn and master the rules of courting. Learn court politics, the ways of the bland and timid masses, and the quirks of human nature. Then use this knowledge to your advantage to court people from all walks of life that can help you in your pursuits.

Law 25:   Re-Create Yourself

Don’t accept any one role in life. Be responsible for your own creation, and be willing to re-invent yourself when it serves you. Make yourself seem larger than life by creating a memorable role for yourself and by acting boldly.

Law 26: Keep your hands clean

Do not do dirty work yourself. It may damage the reputation that you cannot avoid losing. Find scapegoats and other people who can do the dirty work for you, so that you can reap the benefits without the downside risk to your reputation and objectives.

Law 27: Play on people’s need to believe to create a cult-like following

Most people have a hidden and overwhelming desire to believe in something. The size and power of organized religion proves this better than anything else.

If you are a memorable character, incorporate dramatic devices, and give people a philosophy and set of practices to believe in, you can play on such desire. In doing so, you become the architect of how they see the world.

Law 28:   Enter action with boldness

Boldness is cultivated, not inherent. People admire boldness and respect boldness in a world of plentiful timidity. It separates you from the herd and is a tactical characteristic, rather than a way of being. It’s vital for negotiation & romance.

Timidity comes from worrying about how people perceive you and your desire to be liked. Seduce by engulfing and keeping the illusion alive. Self-confidence brings us out of typical reflection.

Law 29: Plan all the way to the end

Keep going until you get the prize at the end of the road. Fight with absolutely everything you have. Stopping too early may lead to others getting the glory and you being forgotten.

Law 30:   Make your accomplishments seem effortless

Actions should appear natural, effortless, calm, and graceful. Don’t give away your secrets. Embody the Italian art of sprezzatura, the capacity to make the difficult seem easy.

Show only finished masterpieces. Avoid blabbing too much and only selectively reveal some practices.

Law 31: Control the options, get others to play with the cards you deal

Make people feel that they have a choice between options, but ensure that all of those options are created by you and serve your goals. People will feel agency, and you will benefit from whatever they decide to do.

Law 32: Play to people’s fantasies

Play to people’s fantasies. Play on the desire for a great change with little time, money, and effort. Play on to the desire to live in a different world with better values and less hardship. Play to the desire for relief from boredom. The truth is too painful for most people.

Law 33: Discover each man’s thumbscrew

Every person has a weakness that you can exploit. The weak link may be something he is insecure about or some desire that has an outsized influence on him.

Once you find this weakness in each person, you can use it to your advantage. Remember, emotions cloud reason, and uncontrollable emotion can lead many men down a path that benefits you.

Law 34: Be royal in your own fashion.   Act like a king to be treated like one

Carry yourself in the manner you want to be treated. Do not try to be too humble or unmotivated by material possessions, unless that helps you develop trust with a potential associate.

Law 35: Master the art of timing

You have only so much energy, and good timing is the key to using the energy you have.

Develop the capacity to stay calm and be patient so that you can stand back gracefully when the timing is not right. Then pay attention to when the timing is in your favor, and be ready to strike quickly.

Law 36: Disdain things you cannot have, ignoring them is the best revenge

Learn to ignore the things you cannot have, and you will not give them any power. Many people spend their lives seeking revenge for things that they do not need.

Law 37: Create compelling spectacles

Grand symbolic gestures create an effect that is like candy for the mind. These gestures can heighten your presence and reputation while distracting people from what you’re really doing.

Law 38: Think as you like but behave like others

Don’t try to convince people of your contrarian opinions – it may make conventional people think that you see them as less worthy. Instead, fit in with the people around you.

Law 39:   Stir up waters to catch fish

Keep your enemies off balance. Find ways to stay calm and balanced while stirring the pot for your enemy. If you can make your enemy angry while remaining calm, you can often reveal things or incite actions that will be to your advantage.

Law 40: Despise the free lunch

Everything that is “free” has some string attached to it. It’s better to pay your own way and always be free from any obligations or expected reciprocation from others.

You will also avoid hard-to-detect traps if you avoid taking these “free” offers. And it’s better to avoid such traps than to enjoy the small fruits of the offering at hand.

Law 41: Avoid stepping into a great man’s shoes

Never try to outshine a great person. Stepping in a great man’s shoes is a big mistake. You will have to work much harder with less success.

It’s better to build your own reputation and to create an image that’s separate from the people that came before you.

Law 42: Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter

When someone else is accruing power in your domain, find a way to way to destroy him. That way, all of the sheep that follow that person will have to run and be immersed in chaos once the illusion of their former master is shattered.

Law 43: Work on the hearts and minds of others

Loyalty is created through seduction, not through coercion. Coercion may work in the short term, but it will work against you in the long run. It’s better to find a soft way to get people in your corner.

Otherwise, you may offend the wrong person or make potential enemies angry to the point that they organize an attack against you.

Law 44: Disarm and infuriate with the mirror effect

Demonstrate that you share similar values and understand other people’s unspoken selves. You can do this by mirroring the behavior of other people to increase respect. They will believe that mirror reflects reality and trust you much more than if you tried to be different.

Law 45: Preach the need to change, but never reform too much at once

People want to believe in something they can follow. Promise transformation, but be vague. Create us versus them dynamic. Make people see you as an agent of transformation. Work within groups, which reduce people’s capacity to reason.

Appeal to higher ideals and noble causes. People like comfort and are scared of change, so they move slowly. Cloak change and innovation in the legitimacy of a past initiative.

Law 46: Never appear too perfect

Perfection engenders envy. And envy creates silent enemies. It’s better to periodically reveal strategic flaws or vices so that you appear more like other people and less suspicious.

If you have such a spotless appearance that people notice your grace and perfection, then you may unintentionally become a threat in their own search for power.

Law 47: Do not go past the mark you aimed for.   In victory, know when to stop

Don’t become overconfident or arrogant when you win. Knowing when to stop will help you avoid the trap of thinking that you’re unstoppable.

Law 48: Assume formlessness

Be like a chameleon so that other people cannot pin you down. This is one of the most important of the 48 laws of power. Being more like water can help you adapt to an ever-changing landscape and not stay tied to a losing strategy.

When the tide inevitably changes, you will be prepared to act accordingly with enough flexibility.

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The 48 Laws Of Power Book Summary, Review, Notes

There are 48 laws of power and it’s our obligation to know them. The Laws work and, whether we like them or not, we need to know them so they’re not used against us. 

There’s a reason why this book is banned in most U.S. federal prisons. Greene provides us with historical examples of people who followed the laws, but also the tragic examples of those who dared to ignore them. Learn the laws and apply them according to your own judgment.

Book Title : The 48 Laws of Power Author : Robert Greene Date of Reading : July-August, 2018 Rating : 10/10

What Is Being Said In Detail:

The book teaches us about 48 laws of power that we need to know about. Greene structured the book in the following way: 

  • The stated Law
  • Judgment (short description of what the law entails)
  • Transgression of the law (example of people who ignored the law to their demise- bad example)
  • Observance of the law (example of people who followed the law to their success- good example)
  • Keys to power (how to use the laws in today’s world to achieve success)
  • Reversal (when should you ignore the law for your own benefit)

Here’s a short description of every Law in the book.

Law 1—Never Outshine The Master

  • Description : Help your master by pleasing and impressing, but never go too far or you’ll cause fear and insecurity in them. 
  • Transgression of the law:  Nicolas Fouquet made a party that outshined the King’s party (Louis XIV).
  • Observance of the law : Galileo honored the Medici’s by discovering Jupiter’s moons and “giving” the discovery to them

Law 2— Never Put Too Much Trust In Friends, Learn How To Use Enemies

  • Description : Friends can quickly become envious. A former enemy is more loyal because they have more to prove.
  • Transgression of the law:  Basilius, a stable boy, become more famous than the king of Byzantium, Michael III., and then killed the king to assume his place.
  • Observance of the law : Emperor Sung offered his generals riches and security.

Robert Greene Quote

Law 3—Conceal Your Intentions

  • Description : If your enemies have no idea about your true intentions, they can’t prepare a defense for you. Do this for as long as possible so once they figure out what you want, it will be too late.
  • Transgression of the law: Ninon de Lenclos, a famous courtesan, tricked the Marquis de Sevigne to ruin his chances with a countess he fell in love with
  • Observance of the law : Otto Von Bismarck, who helped the Prussian King Frederick the IV avoid war with Austria only to become a prime minister and wage war against Austria just a few years later. Haile Sellasie, who tricked Balcha of Sidamo by bribing his entire army with gold and sparring his life to become the King of Ethiopia. 

Law 4—Always Say Less Than Necessary

  • Description : Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less or nothing. The more you talk , the bigger the chance of saying something foolish. 
  • Transgression of the law: Coriolanus, a warrior whose name inspired awe, got himself condemned to death by entering politics and making an arrogant and insolent speech on election day in the forum. 
  • Observance of the law : Louis XIV always answered the asks and questions of his ministers with “I shall see.”

Law 5— So Much Depends On Reputation- Guard It With Your Life

  • Description : Reputation is the cornerstone of your power and you need to guard it with your life. 
  • Transgression of the law: /
  • Observance of the law : General Chuko Liang was famous for his diversion and he once sat on top of the city, opened the front gate and the enemy army of 150,000 troops didn’t attack because they taught it was a trap.

Law 6— Court Attention At All Cost

  • Description : Most things are judged by appearance so make yourself stand out at all cost.
  • Transgression of the law:  /
  • Observance of the law : P.T. Barnum gave his critics the best seats in the circus and even wrote anonymous attacks on his work just to keep himself in the newspaper

Law 7— Get Others To Do The Work For You, But Always Take The Credit

  • Description : Never do yourself what others can do for you. This way, you will save time and energy, and will have the appearance of a godlike productivity machine .
  • Transgression of the law: Vasco de Balboa, after many years of searching, found a rich empire in present-day Peru (the Incas). But he didn’t keep quiet about the riches of this empire and a soldier from his army got him beheaded and stole the glory— Francisco Pizzaro.
  • Observance of the law : One writer “borrowed” plots, characterization, and even dialogue from Plutarch. The writer later became one of the most famous writers to ever live and many, later on, borrowed from him— William Shakespeare.

Robert Greene Quote 2

Law 8— Make Other People Come To You- Use Bait If Necessary

  • Description : It’s always better to control the cards and make the enemy come to you (on “foreign soil”)
  • Observance of the law : Waiting for Napoleon to come to Waterloo, facing the Allied forces bankrupt and with resources exhausted.

Law 9— Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument

  • Description : Show, don’t tell. Any win with an argument is a Pyrrhic victory, leaving only resentment and ill will with the defeated. 
  • Transgression of the law: Publius Crassus needed a battering ram to break the siege. He saw one on a ship and wanted the big mast, but the engineer explained endlessly that the smaller one is better. The engineer was so stubborn with this (that he was right) that he sent the smaller mast and that got him executed by the furious Crassus.
  • Observance of the law : DaVinci listening to the advice of Florence’s mayor Soderini and chiseling the nose of the sculpture (he actually just sprayed dust on it and faked on chiseling it, but it had the wanted effect).

Law 10— Infection: Avoid The Unhappy And Unlucky

  • Description : Emotional states are infectious and if you’re hanging out with the unhappy and unlucky, they will bring it all on you as well.
  • Transgression of the law : How dancer Lola Montez ruined the lives of King Ludwing of Bavaria, Alexandre Dujarier, George Trafford Heald, and Pat Hull.
  • Observance of the law : /

Law 11— Learn To Keep People Dependent On You

  • Description : The more people need you and your services for their happiness, the more freedom and options you have.
  • Transgression of the law: The Count of Carmagnola who dies by the hand of his employer— Venice.
  • Observance of the law : Louis XI wanted to kill his astrologer (because he taught he was lying). So he asked him one day, “tell me, how long you have to live?” and prepared his soldiers to kill him. The astrologer responded, “I shall die just three days before Your Majesty.” The astrologer outlived the king for years.

Robert Greene Quote 3

Law 12— Use Selective Honesty And Generosity To Disarm Your Victim

  • Description : One sincere move will cover a dozen of dishonest ones. A timely gift like the Trojan Horse will do the same.
  • Observance of the law : Victor Lustig, a conman, borrowed $50,000 from Al Capone to double it in sixty days or return the initial investment. He put the money in a vault and returned Capone the $50,000 in sixty days (pretending he failed to double it). Capone gave him $5,000 because he taught he was being honest. 

Law 13— When Asking For Help, Appeal To People’s Self-Interest, Never To Their Mercy Or Gratitude

  • Description : If you need help from an ally, try to find a way to ask him so they will benefit from it . 
  • Transgression of the law: Castracani rose the ranks and became the lord of Lucca, Italy. A family that helped him rise, the Poggios, rebelled against him because seemed to forget about them when he became a lord. The oldest of Poggios managed to stop the fighting on the streets and asked for Castracini to forgive them. Castracini summoned the entire family to the palace and had them all executed in a matter of days.
  • Observance of the law : Corfu and Corinth had a feud and tried to win Athenians on their side. Corinth was an old friend to Athens and named all the ways they helped them in the past. Corfu said that they would be good allies to Athens with their navy in the upcoming war against Sparta. The Athenians voted to side with Corfu overwhelmingly. 

Law 14— Pose As A Friend, Work As A Spy

  • Description : Pose questions to get people to reveal their plans, intentions, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Transgression of the law :  /
  • Observance of the law : Joseph Duveen, an art dealer, tracked Andrew Mellon for years until he learned everything about him and became Mellon’s exclusive art dealer.

Law 15— Crush Your Enemy Totally

  • Description : More is lost if you stop halfway through than if you annihilate completely. Because the enemy will regroup, recover, seek revenge, and retaliate. 
  • Transgression of the law :  Hsiang Yu left his rival Liu Pang to escape many times over and once the tides turned, Liu Pang crushed Hsiang Yu and his army to the ground. 
  • Observance of the law : Wu Chao became the emperor of China because she killed all of the T’and dynasty by poisoning most of them, killing the children, and exiling the remaining “opposers.” 

Law 16— Use Absence To Increase Respect And Honor

  • Description : If you’re already established within a group, temporarily withdraw. That will make you admired and talked about. 
  • Transgression of the law :  Madam Guillelma de Javiac pursued and chased Sir Guillaume de Balaun and he stopped responding to her to drive her mad, but overdone it later on. 
  • Observance of the law : Deioces, a wise man, who the people of Medea turned to solve disputes, suddenly vanished from his people. This led to chaos in the country and they plead for him to come back, but he had his terms. Eventually, he came back but as a king of Medea, ruling for 53 years and establishing the early Persian Empire. 

Law 17— Keep Others In Suspended Terror: Cultivate An Air Of Unpredictability

  • Description : Predictability gives a sense of control. Be deliberately unpredictable so your enemies become off-balance.
  • Transgression of the law : /
  • Observance of the law : What Bobby Fischer did to Boris Spassky (massive unpredictability that made Spassky lose his mind) at their championship chess match in 1972.

Law 18— Do Not Build Fortresses To Protect Yourself- Isolation Is Dangerous

  • Description : The best way to become shielded from your enemies is in the crowd. Isolation leads to a lack of information and makes you an easy target.
  • Transgression of the law : Ch‘in Shih Huang, the first emperor of China, was devoid of human contact (and sight) completely in the last years of his reign. He slept in a different room every night and nobody saw him for years. He died in isolation, completely losing the grip of his vast realm.
  • Observance of the law:  Louis XIV built Versailles and had every notable nobleman move to the palace. Every room in the palace was connected with other rooms so it was impossible to have privacy (even for the king). But that made it perfect for Louis XIV to keep an eye on everyone who might have plotted and schemed against him.  

Law 19— Know Who You’re Dealing With- Do Not Offend The Wrong Person

  • Description : Choose your opponents (and victims) carefully. There are many wolves in sheep clothes and they can spend their entire lives seeking revenge. 
  • Transgression of the law : Muhammad, the shah of an empire spending from Turkey to Afghanistan, managed to offend Genghis Khan (three times in a row) before feeling his wrath which led to the downfall of the shah. 
  • Observance of the law:  /

Law 20— Do Not Commit To Anyone

  • Description : Do not commit to any side but your own. Your independence will make you the master of others. 
  • Observance of the law: Queen Elizabeth I’s diplomacy of the Virgin Queen: She always gave hope, but never satisfaction, playing both France and Spain to ensure peace for her country. 

Law 21— Play A Sucker To Catch A Sucker- Seem Dumber Than Your Mark

  • Description : Make your enemies (or victims) feel smarter than you are. That way, they won’t suspect that you have ulterior motives. 
  • Observance of the law:  Arnold and Slack found a diamond mine and lured the U.S. financier Asbury Harpending to invest in the mine/buy the mine. He collected the richest investors in the entire country and paid them more than $700,000 ($15 million today) to sell the mine. It ended up being the biggest scam of the century, coming from two guys that looked like hayseeds. 

Law 22— Use The Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness Into Power

  • Description : Don’t wait to be defeated if you’re weaker, surrender. This way, you buy time to irritate your enemy, regroup, and attack when their power vanes.
  • Transgression of the law : Athens wanted the island of Melos (friend state of Sparta) to become their ally and they offered good terms to Melos. They didn’t want to ally with Athens and thought that Sparta would come to their aid if Athens attacked. After they turned down Athens’ offer multiple times, Athens attacked and burned Melos to the ground, killing all the men, and selling all women and children into slavery. Sparta didn’t come to aid.
  • Observance of the law:  Bertolt Brecht was charged by the U.S. Congress with writing pro-communist plays and had a hearing in front of congress. The remaining writers who were charged fought the court, while Brecht played the innocent man who respected the congress’ authority. They let him go after just an hour of questioning.

Robert Greene Quote 4

Law 23— Concentrate Your Forces

  • Description : Conserve your energy by focusing on your strongest point. Intensity defeats extensity every time.
  • Transgression of the law : The kingdom of Wu began attacking the neighboring kingdom in the north. The king’s chief minister, Wu Tzu-hsiu warned that they are vulnerable at the southern border and that the kingdom in the south, Yueh, noticed that. He taught that they would invade, and the king had his chief minister killed, thinking that this meant his treason and lack of support. In just four years, Yueh invaded the kingdom of Wu and conquered the country. 
  • Observance of the law:  The Rothschild banking system started in Frankfurt and was expanded by five sons of Mayer Amschel (first Rothschild). They excluded outsiders and kept everything in the family to avoid diffusion, division, and dissension. The five brothers even went so far as to marry within the family. 

Law 24— Play The Perfect Courtier

  • Description : A courtier has mastered the art of indirection by flattering and asserting power over others in a graceful manner. 
  • Transgression of the law : Aristotle’s student, Callisthenes, went with Alexandar the Great on a major campaign. Aristotle did teach Callisthenes how to be a courtier, but he scoffed at that, thinking that Alexandar, who loved to learn, wouldn’t mind a philosopher speaking his mind. Callisthenes spoke his mind too many times and get himself beheaded.
  • Observance of the law:  The French architect Jules Mansart always displayed his plans to Louis XIV with one imperfection. The king would soon notice the imperfection (usually around the garden area) and propose how to make it better. Mansart did this over and over until, at the age of 30, he became the king’s main architect.

Law 25— Re-create Yourself

  • Description : Become the master of your own image and never let others define your image for you.
  • Observance of the law:  Julius Caesar organized a series of events for the public such as gladiator shows and theatrical contests. He created an image of a public showman, always playing the leading man with gusto (in battle and in showmanship).

Law 26— Keep Your Hands Clean

  • Description : You must be the paragon of civility and efficiency by never tainting your hands. Use scapegoats if you need to.
  • Observance of the law: Imperial minister Ts‘ao Ts’ao from Han Empire once lay a siege on a city and miscalculated the timing of his supplies. The army started to murmur and mutiny was all about to rise. To prevent this, Ts‘ao Ts’ao had his chief of commissariat killed and take the blame for the problem (he did promise the chief that he will take care of his family since the man did nothing wrong).

Law 27— Play On People’s Need To Believe To Create A Cultlike Following

  • Description : By keeping your words vague but full of promises and providing a focal point (you) for their faith, you can hold untold power.
  • Transgression of the law : 
  • Observance of the law:  Francesco Giuseppe Borri had a vision in 1653 and started to speak about the occult and alchemy. He soon gathered a large group of people who followed him and had to devote themselves to poverty and give his belongings to Borri. He infatuated so many people that, when the Inquisition caught him, he still received royal visitors in prison (Queen Christina of Sweden was one of them).

Law 28— Enter Action With Boldness

  • Description : Doubt and hesitation are the enemies of execution. Everyone admires the bold; no one honors the timid.
  • Observance of the law: Victor Lustig was making a con of selling the Eiffel Tower. He acted as a government official and set the price to 250,000 francs (around $1 million today). When the buyer started to question the validity, Lusting started behaving like a real government official asking for a bribe. He got the bribe and the 250,000 francs. 

Law 29— Plan All The Way To The End

  • Description : When you plan all the way to the end, you can anticipate plenty of consequences along the way. Also, when you know where’s the end, you know when to stop. 
  • Observance of the law: Bismarck pushed the German federation into war with Austria when he sensed the opportunity to establish a strong German country that isn’t under Austria’s boot. The German federation won fast, but Bismarck didn’t want to march on Vienna and take more land. In turn, they received complete autonomy from Austria. Soon enough, France started to wage war against the newly found German federation and they lost in a matter of months. Everyone was now expecting Bismarck to start conquering Europe, but he didn’t wage war ever after. His goal was a strong, safe, and secure German country and he got that without spilling any more blood. 

Law 30— Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless

  • Description : Conceal your hard work and make sure that your results appear effortless . Teach nobody your trick or they will use them against you. 
  • Observance of the law:  The great magician Harry Houdini once did a show in front of 4,000 people in London where he managed to unlock the hardest manacles one maker spent 5 years making. In the middle of the routine, he did a side-show for his audience, grabbing a pen from his belt by turning around and cutting his coat so he doesn’t get hot in the cubicle. This was followed by a massive roar and cheer from the audience. 

Law 31— Control The Options: Get Others To Play With The Cards You Deal

  • Description : Provide options to other people that will still keep you in control while they think they have control.
  • Observance of the law:  Ivan the Terrible saw his enemies multiply inside and outside the country. So he moved away in the middle of the day to a small village in the south. Later, he had a letter read to the citizens explaining he abdicated because he couldn’t handle the nobility’s betrayal. Chaos ensured and people wanted him back, but he had his terms. Faced with civil war or a despotic leader, the citizens chose the despotic leader and gave Ivan the Terrible full control of everything. 

Law 32— Play To People’s Fantasies

  • Description : The truth is usually harsh, unpleasant, and ugly. Instead, appeal to people’s fantasies.
  • Observance of the law:  Il Brigadino, a mysterious man for whom people thought could create gold through alchemy, tricked Venice into giving him the riches while living like a lord at their expense. 

Law 33— Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew

  • Description : Every man has a hidden weakness or a small secret pleasure. Gain leverage by finding it.
  • Observance of the law:  Cardinal Richelieu, first known as the bishop of Lucon, held a speech in front of the young king and at the end of his speech, gave kind words to the women sitting next to the young king, his mother Marie de Medici. In the following years, he kept by her side and she told the king that he is a man of trust. The king finally listened and promoted him to the prime minister. Richelieu then stopped talking to the Marie de Medici and turned his focus on the king, pushing him into a lot of trouble (wars), but at the same time making him indispensable and forming France to his vision.

Law 34— Be Royal In Your Own Fashion: Act Like A King To Be Treated Like One

  • Description : The way you treat yourself will be the way other people treat you. So be careful how you treat yourself .
  • Transgression of the law : The successor of Charles X was Louis-Philippe, the Duke of Orléans. But he disdained the crown and grandeur, and behaved more like a bourgeois than a king. Soon enough, the people turned against the “king” and he abdicated the throne.
  • Observance of the law:  Christopher Colombo fabricated the story of his noble descent so he could marry into an established Lisbon family with royal connections. Once he managed to meet the king of Portugal, he made his claims and plans for the discovery of a shorter path to Asia. The king thought of his claims as legitimate but denied him his plea. But this motivated Colombus to do the same with the Spanish queen who accepted his terms and the rest is history.

Law 35— Master The Art Of Timing

  • Description : Never show that you’re in a hurry because that signals a lack of control. Learn to stand back, sense the zeitgeist, and strike when the time is right.
  • Observance of the law:  Joseph Fouche played his role perfectly during the Revolution, then again staying with Napoleon, and later on serving under Louis XVIII. He was a master of timing and not picking sides.

Law 36— Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Them Is The Best Revenge

  • Description : The less interest you show, the more superior you might seem. Ignore small mistakes and don’t focus on enemies because that makes you weaker.
  • Transgression of the law : The wild goose-chase of Pancho Villa that ended up in a disastrous mockery of the U.S. forces. 
  • Observance of the law:  King Henry VIII completely ignoring Pope Clement’s threats of excommunication regarding his marriage with Anne Boleyn. 

Law 37— Create Compelling Spectacles

  • Description : Create spectacles that dazzle the people around you with beautiful imagery and lift you up in their eyes.
  • Observance of the law:  Dr. Weisleder (“The Moon Doctor of Berlin”) performed stage healing of the people in Berlin.

Law 38— Think As You Like But Behave Like Others

  • Description : Don’t make people feel inferior or they will punish you for it. Only share your real opinions with trusted friends who appreciate you for who you are.
  • Transgression of the law : Spartan nobleman Pausanias conquered parts of Turkey, but became infatuated with Persian culture and started showing disdain for the Greek way of life (in public). This led to his demise and death.
  • Observance of the law:  Tomasso Campanella realized when he was tortured that he needs to shroud his ideas (books) in a way that conceals his true intentions so he won’t get tortured again. After getting released from prison, he wrote Atheism Conquered, a book that seemly attacked free thinkers and atheists. But the case presented in the book (in the form of a dialogue) actually had free thinkers and atheists on the better sides of the arguments and this turned the book into an “atheist bible.”

Robert Greene Quote 5

Law 39— Stir Up Waters To Catch Fish

  • Description : Always stay calm and objective because that will help you achieve your goals. If you can, anger your enemies so they lose their cool and make blunders.
  • Transgression of the law : Napoleon losing his composure, yelling and banishing minister Talleyrand from his office. This started the decline of Napoleon.
  • Observance of the law:  Haile Selassie drew out warlord Gugsa before he was ready and made him attack in a weakened state. Selassie already secured the support of the Ethiopian Church and bribed Gugsa’s allies so they don’t show in battle. He even demoralized his army by having planes drop leaflets saying Selassie is supported by everyone in the country. It was a flawless victory for Selassie, securing him the title of Emperor of Ethiopia. 

Law 40— Despise The Free Lunch

  • Description : What is offered for free usually has a hidden cost or an obligation . Beware of it. When you pay for something, you’re cleared of any sense of gratitude, obligation, and guilt. 
  • Transgression of the law : Francisco Pizzaro’s brother, Gonzalo, left Ecuador to find “El Dorado.” In two years, his expedition ended up losing 90% of all its resources and they found nothing. 
  • Observance of the law:  Pietro Aretino, a satire writer, became a celebrity in Venice. And then he kept sending gifts to the most powerful people in the world, making himself look equal to them. This indebted these people to return him the favor once needed, later on.

Law 41— Avoid Stepping Into A Great Man’s Shoes

  • Description : What comes first is always more original than what comes after. And to fill a great man’s shoes, you will need to double his achievements to make a lasting memory. Establish your name and move away from other people’s shadows. 
  • Transgression of the law : The rule of Louis XV who couldn’t make his own name and couldn’t match the achievements of “The Sun King.” 
  • Observance of the law:  Alexander the Great surpassing his father Philip of Macedonia. Alexander did things his own way and made his name by conquering, ruling, and behaving in his manner, not his father’s.

Law 42— Strike The Shepherd And The Sheep Will Scatter

  • Description : Neutralize the influence of a stirrer of troubles. Don’t try to negotiate with them, that will only buy them time. Banish, purge, or isolate them.
  • Observance of the law:  How Athenians ostracised those who dared to rise above the people (such as Aristides and Themistocles).

Law 43— Work On The Hearts And Minds Of Others

  • Description : Don’t ignore the minds and hearts of others or they will start to hate you. Seduce others using psychology and emotions. 
  • Transgression of the law : Marie-Antoinette’s attitude toward her servants and people led to her demise and guillotine. 
  • Observance of the law:  Chuko Liang defeating king Menghuo seven times (capturing and releasing him six times) so he could win his heart (and the heart of his people) over. Liang did just that. 

Law 44— Disarm And Infuriate With The Mirror Effect

  • Description : A mirror can seduce the enemies, thinking you have their values. When you mirror your enemies, they can’t figure out your intention and strategy. 
  • Transgression of the law : / 
  • Observance of the law:  Napoleon was always put off by Fouche and even when he fired all his ministers (including Talleyrand), he never touched Fouche. He just couldn’t figure him out. 

Law 45— Preach The Need For Change, But Never Reform Too Much At Once

  • Description : Too much innovation always fails because people can only accept a small amount of change. So if you want to change something, do it slow and gradually.
  • Transgression of the law : Thomas Cromwell wanted to break all ties England had with Catholic Church so he started doing major reforms. The people didn’t like this (nor the king who just wanted a divorce) so Cromwell’s fate became sealed after a couple of years. He was executed. 
  • Observance of the law:  Mao preached to the people that he wasn’t a Chinese Lenin, but a modern Chuko Liang so he could connect his goal with the past the Chinese people had.

Law 46— Never Appear Too Perfect

  • Description : Never appear better than other people because that will form envy and silent enemies. Admit harmless vices to appear more human and approachable.  
  • Transgression of the law : The story of Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell. Halliwell supported his lover Orton and once Orton became a successful playwright, Halliwell couldn’t handle it. Orton seemed to be so perfect and Halliwell ended up killing him and committing suicide. 
  • Observance of the law:  The rule of Cosimo Medici who managed to topple the opposing family Albizzi and ruled Florence for thirty years, being hailed as the “wisest of all princes” (Machiavelli).

Law 47— Do Not Go Past The Mark You Aimed For; In Victory, Learn When To Stop

  • Description : The most dangerous moment is the victorious moment. Don’t make more enemies than you need to . Stop when you reach your goal. 
  • Transgression of the law : Cyrus the Great conquered half of the world, but then he set his sight on Massagetai. And in this campaign, he made the mistake of killing the queen’s son. The queen retaliated and defeated Cyrus’s army and killed him on the field. 
  • Observance of the law:  The way Madame de Pompadour managed to infatuate Louis XV and stay as a minister for twenty years.

Law 48— Assume Formlessness

  • Description : When you have a shape, your enemies can attack you. The best way to protect yourself is to be fluid and formless. 
  • Transgression of the law : Sparta pushed for the status quo and always conquered with their mighty infantry. But once they conquered Athens, the money poured into Sparta and they didn’t know how to handle it. Only thirty years after they conquered Athens, they lost the battle at Thebes and collapsed, never to recover. 
  • Observance of the law:  Mao’s army had been elusive, striking here and there with small forces, and then withdrawing. But this kind of guerilla war showed to be extremely effective against the big force of Chiang Kai-shek. Soon enough, Mao’s army conquered Manchuria and, within a year, the entirety of China. 

Most Important Keywords, Sentences, Quotes:

Niccolo Machiavelli wrote, “Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good.”

In fact, the better you are at dealing with power, the better friend, lover, husband, wife, and person you become.

All masters want to appear more brilliant than other people.

Discreet flattery is much more powerful. If you are more intelligent than your master, for example, seem the opposite: Make him appear more intelligent than you. Act naive. Make it seem that you need his expertise. Commit harmless mistakes that will not hurt you in the long run but will give you the chance to ask for his help.

When you see water flowing uphill, it means that someone is repaying a kindness.

Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit, because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

Most people are open books. They say what they feel, blurt out their opinions at every opportunity, and constantly reveal their plans and intentions. They do this for several reasons. 

First, it is easy and natural to always want to talk about one’s feelings and plans for the future. It takes effort to control your tongue and monitor what you reveal. 

Second, many believe that by being honest and open they are winning people’s hearts and showing their good nature. 

They are greatly deluded. Honesty is actually a blunt instrument, which bloodies more than it cuts. Your honesty is likely to offend people; it is much more prudent to tailor your words, telling people what they want to hear rather than the coarse and ugly truth of what you feel or think. 

More important, by being unabashedly open you make yourself so predictable and familiar that it is almost impossible to respect or fear you, and power will not accrue to a person who cannot inspire such emotions.

Robert Greene Quote 6

People easily mistake sincerity for honesty. 

The paranoid and wary are often the easiest to deceive. Win their trust in one area and you have a smoke screen that blinds their view in another, letting you creep up and level them with a devastating blow.

No smoke screen, red herring, false sincerity, or any other diversionary device will succeed in concealing your intentions if you already have an established reputation for deception.

A person who cannot control his words shows that he cannot control himself, and is unworthy of respect.

In the beginning, you must work to establish a reputation for one outstanding quality , whether generosity or honesty or cunning. This quality sets you apart and gets other people to talk about you. You then make your reputation known to as many people as possible (subtly, though; take care to build slowly, and with a firm foundation), and watch as it spreads like wildfire.

A reputation for honesty will allow you to practice all manner of deception.

“A name without fame is like fire without flame.”

Society craves larger-than-life figures, people who stand above the general mediocrity. Never be afraid, then, of the qualities that set you apart and draw attention to you.

The attention you attract must never offend or challenge the reputation of those above you—not, at any rate, if they are secure. You will seem not only paltry but desperate by comparison.

Learn to use the knowledge of the past and you will look like a genius, even when you are really just a clever borrower.

Why am I always having to react to events instead of directing them? The answer is simple: Your idea of power is wrong. You have mistaken aggressive action for effective action.

Manipulation is a dangerous game. Once someone suspects he is being manipulated, it becomes harder and harder to control him.

You must be careful, then: Learn to demonstrate the correctness of your ideas indirectly.

The problem in trying to prove a point or gain a victory through argument is that in the end you can never be certain how it affects the people you’re arguing with: They may appear to agree with you politely, but inside they may resent you. Or perhaps something you said inadvertently even offended them—words have that insidious ability to be interpreted according to the other person’s mood and insecurities.

When caught in a lie, the more emotional and certain you appear, the less likely it seems that you are lying.

It would be a great thing if we could raise them up, change their patterns, but more often than not it is their patterns that end up getting inside and changing us. The reason is simple—humans are extremely susceptible to the moods, emotions, and even the ways of thinking of those with whom they spend their time.

Necessity rules the world. People rarely act unless compelled to. If you create no need for yourself, then you will be done away with at first opportunity.

Do not be one of the many who mistakenly believe that the ultimate form of power is independence. Power involves a relationship between people; you will always need others as allies, pawns, or even as weak masters who serve as your front.

But the soldiers, faced with a choice between another ten years of manliness, honor, and death, on the one hand and a quick victory on the other, chose the horse, which was promptly built. The trick was successful and Troy fell. One gift did more for the Greek cause than ten years of fighting.

When Castruccio was told that it had been a terrible wrong to kill such an old friend, he replied that he had executed not an old friend but a new enemy.

What they do not realize is that even the most powerful person is locked inside needs of his own, and that if you make no appeal to his self-interest, he merely sees you as desperate or, at best, a waste of time.

La Rochefoucauld, who wrote, “Sincerity is found in very few men, and is often the cleverest of ruses—one is sincere in order to draw out the confidence and secrets of the other.”

Those who seek to achieve things should show no mercy.

To have ultimate victory, you must be ruthless.

Novelists J. D. Salinger and Thomas Pynchon have created cultlike followings by knowing when to disappear.

Remember: In the beginning, make yourself not scarce but omnipresent. Only what is seen, appreciated, and loved will be missed in its absence.

Law 17— Keep Others In Suspended Terro: Cultivate An Air Of Unpredictability

Chess contains the concentrated essence of life : First, because to win you have to be supremely patient and farseeing; and second, because the game is built on patterns, whole sequences of moves that have been played before and will be played again, with slight alterations, in any one match.

The danger for most people comes when they feel threatened. In such times they tend to retreat and close ranks, to find security in a kind of fortress. In doing so, however, they come to rely for information on a smaller and smaller circle, and lose perspective on events around them.

The highest form of the art of power is the ability to distinguish the wolves from the lambs, the foxes from the hares, the hawks from the vultures.

When you meet a swordsman, draw your sword: Do not recite poetry to one who is not a poet.

As your reputation for independence grows, more and more people will come to desire you, wanting to be the one who gets you to commit.

When you want to seduce a woman, Stendhal advises, court her sister first.

Know how to make use of stupidity: The wisest man plays this card at times. There are occasions when the highest wisdom consists in appearing not to know—you must not be ignorant but capable of playing it. It is not much good being wise among fools and sane among lunatics. 

He who poses as a fool is not a fool. The best way to be well-received by all is to clothe yourself in the skin of the dumbest of brutes. (Baltasar Gracián, 1601-1658)

Weak people never give way when they ought to.

When the great lord passes, the wise peasant bows deeply and silently farts.

Inwardly you stay firm, but outwardly you bend.

For every famous martyr there are thousands more who have inspired neither a religion nor a rebellion, so that if martyrdom does sometimes grant a certain power, it does so unpredictably.

Authority: Prize intensity more than extensity. Perfection resides in quality, not quantity. Extent alone never rises above mediocrity, and it is the misfortune of men with wide general interests that while they would like to have their finger in every pie, they have one in none. Intensity gives eminence, and rises to the heroic in matters sublime. (Baltasar Gracián, 1601-1658)

Never imagine that skill and talent are all that matter. In court the courtier’s art is more important than his talent; never spend so much time on your studies that you neglect your social skills. And the greatest skill of all is the ability to make the master look more talented than those around him.

The world wants to assign you a role in life. And once you accept that role you are doomed. Your power is limited to the tiny amount allotted to the role you have selected or have been forced to assume.

I would rather betray the whole world than let the world betray me. General Ts‘ao Ts’ao, c. A.D. 155-220

In fact it is often wise to choose the most innocent victim possible as a sacrificial goat. Such people will not be powerful enough to fight you, and their naive protests may be seen as protesting too much—may be seen, in other words, as a sign of their guilt.

The truly powerful, on the other hand, seem never to be in a hurry or overburdened. While others work their fingers to the bone, they take their leisure.

…they stumbled on a truth of human nature: The larger the group they gathered around themselves, the easier it was to deceive.

Most people’s problems have complex causes: deep-rooted neurosis, interconnected social factors, roots that go way back in time and are exceedingly hard to unravel. Few, however, have the patience to deal with this; most people want to hear that a simple solution will cure their problems. The ability to offer this kind of solution will give you great power and build you a following.

Robert Greene Quote 7

You need to amuse the bored, then, and ward off the cynics.

Our tendency to doubt, the distance that allows us to reason, is broken down when we join a group.

The path of pleasure never leads to glory!

Con artists know that the bolder the lie, the more convincing it becomes. The sheer audacity of the story makes it more credible, distracting attention from its inconsistencies.

You must practice and develop your boldness . You will often find uses for it. The best place to begin is often the delicate world of negotiation, particularly those discussions in which you are asked to set your own price. How often we put ourselves down by asking for too little.

There are very few men—and they are the exceptions—who are able to think and feel beyond the present moment. CARL VON CLAUSEWITZ, 1780-1831

Balboa became the first European to lay eyes on the Pacific Ocean.

Most men are ruled by the heart, not the head. Their plans are vague, and when they meet obstacles they improvise. But improvisation will only bring you as far as the next crisis, and is neve r a substitute for thinking several steps ahead and planning to the end.

So much of power is not what you do but what you do not do—the rash and foolish actions that you refrain from before they get you into trouble.

Nature does not reveal its tricks, and what imitates nature by appearing effortless approximates nature’s power.

…sprezzatura, the capacity to make the difficult seem easy.

Remember: The more mystery surrounds your actions, the more awesome your power seems. You appear to be the only one who can do what you do—and the appearance of having an exclusive gift is immensely powerful.

Withdrawal and disappearance are classic ways of controlling the options. You give people a sense of how things will fall apart without you, and you offer them a “choice”: I stay away and you suffer the consequences, or I return under circumstances that I dictate.

Never promise a gradual improvement through hard work; rather, promise the moon, the great and sudden transformation, the pot of gold.

The Reality: Change is slow and gradual. It requires hard work, a bit of luck, a fair amount of self sacrifice, and a lot of patience.

The Fantasy: A sudden transformation will bring a total change in one’s fortunes, bypassing work, luck, self-sacrifice, and time in one fantastic stroke.

If you suspect that someone has a particular soft spot, probe for it indirectly. If, for instance, you sense that a man has a need to be loved, openly flatter him. If he laps up your compliments, no matter how obvious, you are on the right track. Train your eye for details—how someone tips a waiter, what delights a person, the hidden messages in clothes.

Where a show of courage often conceals a man’s timidity, William’s timidity concealed his need to show courage and thump his chest.

It is within your power to set your own price. How you carry yourself reflects what you think of yourself. If you ask for little, shuffle your feet and lower your head, people will assume this reflects your character. But this behavior is not you—it is only how you have chosen to present yourself to other people.

People who wear crowns seem to feel no inner sense of the limits to what they can ask for or what they can accomplish. This too radiates outward. Limits and boundaries disappear. Use the Strategy of the Crown and you will be surprised how often it bears fruit.

When Fouché arrived in Paris to take his seat at the convention, a violent rift had broken out between the moderates and the radical Jacobins. Fouché sensed that in the long run neither side would emerge victorious. Power rarely ends up in the hands of those who start a revolution, or even of those who further it; power sticks to those who bring it to a conclusion. That was the side Fouche wanted to be on.

You do not deliberately slow time down to live longer, or to take more pleasure in the moment, but the better to play the game of power.

Remember: You choose to let things bother you. You can just as easily choose not to notice the irritating offender, to consider the matter trivial and unworthy of your interest. That is the powerful move.

Many things which seemed important [at the time] turn out to be of no account when they are ignored; and others, which seem trifling, appear formidable when you pay attention to them.

Desire often creates paradoxical effects: The more you want something, the more you chase after it, the more it eludes you. The more interest you show, the more you repel the object of your desire. This is because your interest is too strong—it makes people awkward, even fearful. Uncontrollable desire makes you seem weak, unworthy, pathetic.

He recognized that people do not always want words, or rational explanations, or demonstrations of the powers of science; they want an immediate appeal to their emotions.

Understand: Words put you on the defensive. If you have to explain yourself your power is already in question.

Bene vixit, qui bene latuit—“He lives well who conceals himself well. ”

People who flaunt their infatuation with a different culture are expressing a disdain and contempt for their own.

You pretend to disagree with dangerous ideas, but in the course of your disagreement you give those ideas expression and exposure. You seem to conform to the prevailing orthodoxy, but those who know will understand the irony involved. You are protected.

Wise and clever people learn early on that they can display conventional behavior and mouth conventional ideas without having to believe in them. The power these people gain from blending in is that of being left alone to have the thoughts they want to have, and to express them to the people they want to express them to, without suffering isolation or ostracism.

This is the problem with the angry response. At first it may strike fear and terror, but only in some, and as the days pass and the storm clears, other responses emerge—embarrassment and uneasiness about the shouter’s capacity for going out of control, and resentment of what has been said.

Remember: Tantrums neither intimidate nor inspire loyalty. They only create doubts and uneasiness about your power. Exposing your weakness, these stormy eruptions often herald a fall.

Robert Greene Quote 8

This is the essence of the Law: When the waters are still, your opponents have the time and space to plot actions that they will initiate and control. So stir the waters, force the fish to the surface, get them to act before they are ready, steal the initiative. The best way to do this is to play on uncontrollable emotions—pride, vanity, love, hate.

Nothing is as infuriating as a man who keeps his cool while others are losing theirs. If it will work to your advantage to unsettle people, affect the aristocratic, bored pose, neither mocking nor triumphant but simply indifferent. This will light their fuse.

The powerful learn early to protect their most valuable resources: independence and room to maneuver.

The Bargain Demon. Powerful people judge everything by what it costs, not just in money but in time, dignity, and peace of mind. And this is exactly what Bargain Demons cannot do.

There is a popular saying in Japan that goes “Tada yori takai mono wa nai,” meaning: “Nothing is more costly than something given free of charge.”

Sudden wealth rarely lasts, for it is built on nothing solid.

But when they began to make sovereignty hereditary, the children quickly degenerated from their fathers; and, so far from trying to equal their father’s virtues, they considered that a prince had nothing else to do than to excel all the rest in idleness, indulgence, and every other variety of pleasure. Niccolo Machiavelli, 1469-1527

Be merciless with the past, then—not only with your father and his father but with your own earlier achievements. Only the weak rest on their laurels and dote on past triumphs; in the game of power there is never time to rest.

When the tree falls, the monkeys scatter. Chinese saying.

One resolute person, one disobedient spirit, can turn a flock of sheep into a den of lions.

Authority: If you draw a bow, draw the strongest. If you use an arrow, use the longest. To shoot a rider, first shoot his horse. To catch a gang of bandits, first capture its leader. Just as a country has its border, so the killing of men has its limits. If the enemy’s attack can be stopped [with a blow to the head], why have any more dead and wounded than necessary? (Chinese poet Tu Fu, Tang dynasty, eighth century)

The men who have changed the universe have never gotten there by working on leaders, but rather by moving the masses. Working on leaders is the method of intrigue and only leads to secondary results. Working on the masses, however, is the stroke of genius that changes the face of the world. NAPOLEON BONAPARTE, 1769-1821

Governments saw men only in mass; but our men, being irregulars, were not formations, but individuals…. Our kingdoms lay in each man’s mind. Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T. E. Lawrence, 1888-1935

Be alert to both what separates them from everyone else (their individual psychology) and what they share with everyone else (their basic emotional responses).

The people who are best at appealing to people’s minds are often artists, intellectuals, and those of a more poetic nature. This is because ideas are most easily communicated through metaphors and imagery.  

You look deep into the souls of other people; fathom their inmost desires, their values, their tastes, their spirit; and you reflect it back to them, making yourself into a kind of mirror image.

Everyone is wrapped up in their own narcissistic shell. When you try to impose your own ego on them, a wall goes up, resistance is increased. By mirroring them, however, you seduce them into a kind of narcissistic rapture: They are gazing at a double of their own soul. This double is actually manufactured in its entirety by you. Once you have used the mirror to seduce them, you have great power over them.

Understand: People are locked in their own experiences. When you whine about some insensitivity on their part, they may seem to understand, but inwardly they are untouched and even more resistant. The goal of power is always to lower people’s resistance to you. For this you need tricks, and one trick is to teach them a lesson.

Just as you cannot make people see the world your way, you cannot wrench them into the future with painful changes. They will rebel. If reform is necessary, anticipate the reaction against it and find ways to disguise the change and sweeten the poison.

It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. Niccolo Machiavelli, 1469-1527

Change in the abstract, or superficial change, they desire, but a change that upsets core habits and routines is deeply disturbing to them.

“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

Those who finish a revolution are rarely those who start it.

It takes great talent and skill to conceal one’s talent and skill LA ROCHEFOUCAULD, 1613-1680

Only a minority can succeed at the game of life, and that minority inevitably arouses the envy of those around them. Once success happens your way, however, the people to fear the most are those in your own circle, the friends and acquaintances you have left behind.

Robert Greene Quote 9

The insidious envy of the masses can actually be deflected quite easily: Appear as one of them in style and values. Make alliances with those below you, and elevate them to positions of power to secure their support in times of need.

According to the Elizabethan statesman and writer Sir Francis Bacon, the wisest policy of the powerful is to create a kind of pity for themselves, as if their responsibilities were a burden and a sacrifice. How can one envy a man who has taken on a heavy load for the public interest?

The greatest danger occurs at the moment of victory. Napoleon Bonaparte, 1769-1821

The essence of strategy is controlling what comes next, and the elation of victory can upset your ability to control what comes next in two ways.

Finally, the moment when you stop has great dramatic import. What comes last sticks in the mind as a kind of exclamation point. There is no better time to stop and walk away than after a victory. Keep going and you risk lessening the effect, even ending up defeated. As lawyers say of cross examination, “Always stop with a victory.”

When you beat an enemy, then, make your victory complete. Crush him into nonexis tence. In the moment of victory, you do not restrain yourself from crushing the enemy you have defeated, but rather from needlessly advancing against others. Be merciless with your enemy, but do not create new enemies by overreaching.

When you want to fight us, we don’t let you and you can’t find us. But when we want to fight you, we make sure that you can’t get away and we hit you squarely … and wipe you out…. The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue. Mao Tse-tung, 1893-1976

Flexible, formless rulers will be much criticized, but they will endure, and people will eventually come to identify with them, since they are as their subjects are—changing with the wind, open to circumstance.

An enemy who does not respect you will grow bold, and boldness makes even the smallest animal dangerous.

Formlessness is a tool. Never confuse it with a go-with-the-flow style, or with a religious resignation to the twists of fortune. You use formlessness, not because it creates inner harmony and peace, but because it will increase your power.

Robert Greene Quote 10

“The laws that govern circumstances are abolished by new circumstances,” Napoleon wrote, which means that it is up to you to gauge each new situation. Rely too much on other people’s ideas and you end up taking a form not of your own making. Too much respect for other people’s wisdom will make you depreciate your own. Be brutal with the past, especially your own, and have no respect for the philosophies that are foisted on you from outside.

When you assume a form and go on the attack, use concentration, speed, and power. As Mao said, “When we fight you, we make sure you can’t get away.”

Book Review (Personal Opinion):

The book has some laws that appear contradictory on the surface (spread out your forces vs. concentrate your forces), but it’s all about context. Look at your surroundings and decide when you need to use which law. If you think that the laws are unethical (some are) and decide not to use them, you still have the obligation to learn them to be able to defend yourself from people who might use the laws on you. I loved the book because I learned so much about human nature and I recommend it to almost everyone! 

Rating : 10/10

This Book Is For (Recommend):

  • A young and ambitious professional looking to climb the corporate ladder
  • A millennial who wants to learn how to deal with the powerful people in their social/corporate circles
  • Anyone who wants to become a better husband, friend, father, and lover. 

If You Want To Learn More

Here’s Robert Green discussing the book. Between The Lines

How I’ve Implemented The Ideas From The Book

There are so many different laws that I’ve applied from the book and also so many laws I realized other people were trying to implement on me. One thing I really applied in my work was “Law 13- When Asking For Help, Appeal To People’s Self-interest, Never To Their Mercy Or Gratitude.” I realized that if I want to grow my business, I need to find a win-win situation where the other person will actually get something valuable back, instead of me asking for a plea of mercy from them. 

Even you reading this right now— you’re not reading this because you’re like “hey, let’s help Bruno out by supporting his work.” You want something in return (in this case, a summary of the massive “48 Laws of Power”) and there’s nothing bad in wanting something in return. I just realized that if I want to grow my business(es), I need to provide value to other people instead of relying on anything else. 

One Small Actionable Step You Can Do

The reason this book is so massive is that every one of us is facing different situations, challenges, and contexts. So one small actionable step would be to read the laws above and realize which one, when implemented, will help you the most in your current life situation. 

The 48 Laws Of Power by Robert Greene - Book Summary Infographic

Bruno Boksic

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Write Out Loud

Reviews and other writings of bestselling author and tedx speaker, d k powell, book review: the 48 laws of power by robert greene.

1303

My rating: 1 of 5 stars This book by Robert Greene is, without a doubt, one of the very worst books I’ve ever read. It is ghastly on multiple levels. I do try to read an eclectic range of books and push myself to read recommended books I wouldn’t normally bother with. I can’t recall is ‘The 48 Laws of Power’ was recommended to me, or if it just kept coming up on social media, or if I just came across it and thought “why not?” I can imagine it might just have been the latter as, with my psychologist’s hat on, it is just about in my line of interest and I certainly read it hoping I would get some insights into how people tick which might be useful. I was disappointed. Instead, I got to see the very worst of human nature – something I can get more than my fill of just by going on Twitter and reading the myriad right-wing comments I see every time. Worse than that (for with my historian’s hat on, you see the worst and most stupid of humanity on a regular basis and so it is no big deal) Greene writes absolute rubbish and passes it off as fact. That’s unforgivable. These 48 ‘laws’ are nothing of the sort. They are a mix up of opinions and weird interpretations of stories and alleged moments of history which bear little resemblance to real life. Indeed, Greene’s tortured view of historical events is so bad that my History students would easily see the faults. His versions of Tudor history, for instance, are, at best, simplistic and, at worst, absolute fiction. Similarly, from ancient history to modern, Russian, Chinese, British, American or European, he shows again and again that he’s read a history book once and twisted every moment he can to fit his ideas. It’s like reading tales of history taken straight out of the British Empire era. What is blatantly missing is any psychological evidence or indeed the use of any science at all, and that is telling. Greene twists history and resorts to myths and children’s tales to exemplify his points. There’s zero definitive truth in this book. But perhaps worst of all is the moral vacuity of the book. You can forgive books such as Dale Carnegie’s classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People” – which also don’t use scientific evidence – for their simple moral value. Carnegie writes to help you get on better with your fellow humans and live and peace and mutual prosperity. He uses stories from real life from which you can see understandable and realistic principles, easily be applied to your own life to see if they work or not (and on the whole, they do). Conversely, Greene’s ‘laws’ sound grand but are actually vague and impractical. And, ultimately, every single one is self-seeking and to the detriment of those around you and with whom you interact. Written at the end of the 90s, I think – if not, truly hope – that this book is a product of its time. I seem to recall there was a lot of such books on the market back then offering the gullible reader ways to get ahead of the pack, to beat the rat race, get the promotion, improve your inner skills and so on. My feeling is that these kinds of books have died out over the last ten to fifteen years. Perhaps this is because of the internet and all that can be accessed with the web? Life is simpler in many ways now with young people entering into minimalist lifestyles so much more easily than my generation did. With a smart TV, phone, perhaps game station or laptop, there’s very little more needed for a comfortable capitalist lifestyle. Income, after paying bills, can be spent on those optional luxuries – clothes, holidays, cosmetics, drink or fine food. Of course, many are ditching even this kind of luxurious living going for even simpler lifestyles. And the fact is, this is all acceptable now. No one judges their neighbours’ way of living because we live in societies (in the West, at least) where individuality is encouraged. Vive la difference! But what we all feel we have now as a result, is power. This power is the power to live how we wish to, rather than power to dominate. To have enough money to spend on the simple pleasures that everything else that may be bad in the world seems nought. Such living can lead to apathy, of course, and I would say the UK political climate at the moment is directly a result of such high-living apathy, but the craving for power at the expense of another is much less than in previous decades. And this is a good thing, I think. Let the dinosaurs of Greene and his like be confined to the fossil collection of history. Those who view humanity as a battle to be won, with victors and losers, and all around potential enemies to be controlled and used for gain. Be gone, such foul creatures! You are not welcome any longer. And if you must, must be there at all – at least get your facts right and present proper evidence!

book review of 48 laws of power

Social Entrepreneur, educationalist, bestselling author and journalist, D K Powell is the author of the bestselling collection of literary short stories “ The Old Man on the Beach “. His first book, ‘ Sonali’ is a photo-memoir journal of life in Bangladesh and has been highly praised by the Bangladeshi diaspora worldwide. Students learning the Bengali language have also valued the English/Bengali translations on every page. His third book is ‘Try not to Laugh’ and is a guide to memorising, revising and passing exams for students.

Both ‘The Old Man on the Beach’ and ‘Sonali’ are available on Amazon for kindle and paperback. Published by Shopno Sriti Media. The novel,’The Pukur’, was published by Histria Books in 2022.

D K Powell is available to speak at events ( see his TEDx talk here ) and can be contacted at [email protected] . Alternatively, he is available for one-to-one mentoring and runs a course on the psychology of writing. Listen to his life story in interview with the BBC here .

Ken writes for a number of publications around the world. Past reviewer for Paste magazine, The Doughnut, E2D and United Airways and Lancashire Life magazine. Currently reviews for Northern Arts Review . His reviews have been read more than 6.9 million times.

book review of 48 laws of power

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Encyclopedia of Power

The 48 Laws Of POWER by Robert Greene [List, Summary, Review]

book review of 48 laws of power

Table of Contents

Robert Greene:

book review of 48 laws of power

What Does The 48 Laws Of Power Teach You?

You can learn many things from the 48 Laws Of Power . Overall, the Laws teach you how you can avoid losing power, how you can gain power, and how to spot people who are playing the power game. It is a useful book to read regardless of whether you plan on using the laws because it makes you aware of what people are up to.

What Is The Purpose Of The 48 Laws Of Power?

Author Robert Greene has said that his purpose in writing the 430 page book was to help people recognize the game of power . Others wonder if the 48 laws of power were meant for manipulation. The book can be used for the purpose of manipulation but it can also be used to defend oneself against manipulation. You should look at the book as simply an amoral description of some tools that describe how people use, build, and maintain power.

How Can I Tell If Someone Is Using The 48 Laws Of Power?

The best way to tell if someone is using the 48 Laws is to carefully observe their behavior. Look at their book collection for other works by Robert Greene. Listen to the phrases and words they use and see if it matches up with those in the book.

You can also read the 48 Laws Of Power summary below and keep track of the number of laws the person follows. This isn’t an exact method but the more laws they follow the more likely they are to have read the book and have used the laws.

Ultimately the most sure way to find out if someone is using the laws is to get them to admit it. Try making statements they are likely to disagree with that will prove they use the laws like “you probably never have read the 48 laws of power,” and “the 48 laws of power is a useless book.” Watch how they react. You can also tell a story of how someone else used the 48 laws and watch how they react.

Keep in mind that some people intuitively understand or discover the laws on their own. Just because they are using some of the laws does not mean they have read the book. Often narcissistic, achievement, and competitive people start using the laws organically.

What Is The One Thing I Should Know About The Book?

One thing you must know that the book is that it is meant to be studied slowly, from an amoral point of view. If you rush through the book with a judging viewpoint, you won’t get much out of it. Instead, study the book as a pragmatic guide to how people with power act. If you were to try to read it all the way through in one sitting, which is inadvisable, it would take the average person about 24 hour.

book review of 48 laws of power

There are four main critiques of the book.

First is that the book isn’t very scientific. Many of the ideas and laws are really just anecdotal stories which may or may not actually increase your power. Second is that the laws within the book contradict themselves. Third is that the book is immoral. Finally , some argue that the book can harm your power.

Find more details about the criticisms, as well as our response to each argument, here .

The 48 Laws of Power is a staple in your bookshelf for anyone who wants to better understand power. It teaches you how to defend against power moves as well as how to use it to increase your power. The text includes specific examples from the past that help illustrate the real world effects and applicable strategies of the book.

It also discusses specific ways you can apply each rule and potential reversals. Reversals are situations where it might be more useful to apply the opposite version of the law. For example, law 2 states that you should never put too much trust in friends. However, the reversal states that sometimes it can be useful to trust friends to do your dirty work.

The book is effective enough that it has been banned in some prisons (Utah State Prisons) for fear that the prisoners might become better at breaking the law. It also teaches how to control people and how to get them to do what you want.

Most importantly the book teaches you see how power in the world actually works. This is the first step on your journey to power. To do this Greene gives examples of people who followed these power rules and those who didn’t.

What Are The Most Important Laws?

Greene himself has said the the first law is the most important. It is to never outshine the master. We’ve compiled a list of other laws that are important, here .

book review of 48 laws of power

“The 48 Laws Of Power is a kind of handbook on the art of indirection.”

List & Summary:

The 48 Laws Of Power details the strategies necessary for maintaining and growing power. It details each of 48 laws, giving historical and story based examples, analysis, tips for application, and reversals. Here is a summary of each law in the form of a list as well as examples and a link to a post about the science behind each law.

Law 1: Never Outshine The Master

Summary: When you show your gifts to the world, some will be jealous. Don’t let that stop you from showing your talents in most situations. However, when you are around those who outrank you, be careful. They have the ability to crush you if they think you are a threat. Keeping this law has two keys.

First, either avoid insecure masters or seek to mute your qualities so they appear less threatening. Make your masters seem more impressive than you.

Second, remember that your position relies on the good will of those above you. Don’t offend them.

Keys To Power: Flatter your master in a subtle way by making it seem like you need their expertise. Make small and insignificant mistakes and ask for their help.

Reversal: Find out if your superior is bleeding power and about to fall. To do this look to see how others behave around them. Do they listen? If they are, don’t worry about outshining them. In fact, in this situation, outshining them in the right way and at the right time can get you their position.

Example: Treat your boss with respect. Pretend he is as competent and intelligent as he thinks he is. Compliment your superiors. Attribute your success to your boss’s ideas and guidance.

Science: Click here to see the science behind this law.

Law 2: Never Put Too Much Trust In Fiends, Learn How To Use Enemies

Summary: Friends are dangerous because of how much they know about you and how little you notice about them. Often the things closest to us we observe the least. If they betray you they can hurt you more than others. Friends can also experience envy, which can motivate them to attack you.

On the other hand, enemies can be more loyal because they have more to prove. Enemies can also give you accurate criticism and don’t expect as much from you. This lower level of expectation means any reward from you will have greater value than if it was given to a friend who expected it. Enemies also focus and empower us to be our best selves by creating an environment of necessity. Because of these and other reasons, you must find a way to make enemies if you don’t have any.

Keys To Power: Be able to judge who is able to most further your interests in any given situation. Work with those most skilled and competent and intelligent. Learn how to use an enemy to make you better.

Reversal: Powerful people have dirty work that needs to be done. Friends can do this for you and if they fail you can use them as a scapegoat.

Example: Don’t tell your friends anything that could be used to hurt you. Use your enemy’s criticisms of your actions to refine yourself until they can’t criticize at all.

Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions

Summary: Don’t reveal your plans or purposes. If people don’t know why you are acting, it creates an air of mystery and stops people from coming up with strong defenses . Use this indirection to guide them down the wrong path. Additionally, concealing your intentions makes you easier to respect since it isn’t plainly obvious how you got to where you are.

I: Conceal by first using red herrings. Look for what people expect and learn how to use those expectations to lead them away from your plans. You can create a fictitious goal that you appear to want in order to distract people from what you are really up to. Some even go as far as supporting a cause that is completely contrary to their goals.

II: Use smoke screens. The best deceivers use banality and a bland exterior to avoid attention. Effective smoke screens are things people want to believe. Here are the ones listed in the 48 Laws. Try the noble gesture smokescreen. A noble gesture is when you pretend to be doing something for a moral or social purpose. Another smokescreen option is using a pattern of behavior. When people expect you to take certain actions since you’ve acted that way in the past, you can use those expectations to your advantage. Think of poker tells and fake tells. You can also try the smoke screen of appearing like the people around you.

Keys To Power: Don’t hide your intentions by hiding what you have to say. Instead hide your intentions by sharing a fake goal and discussing it openly with others.

Reversal: You can’t deceive and mislead if everyone expects it of you. In those situations where you have been spotted, practice appearing as the honest or repentant rogue.

Example: Pretend you want one job while secretly preparing for and perusing another. This works well if you are switching careers. Pretend to be totally dedicated to your current job while taking night classes.

Law 4: Always Say Less Than Necessary

Summary: Often people try to impress with words. But the more you say the more common you make yourself. You also make it more likely that you will say something dumb. Say less to impress and intimidate people. Saying less also makes you appear sphinx-like, complex, and thoughtful. Saying less creates the air of meaning and power.

Keys To Power: Once your words are spoken you can’t take them back. Be careful when you use sarcasm. But saying less can be an effective skill to have, especially if you are one who constantly wishes they didn’t say something after the fact.

Reversal: Talking less can backfire against you, arousing suspicion. Saying less can also lead to interpretations that you don’t want or anticipate. Sometimes talking and joking like a fool can be a more effective strategy.

Example: When people ask what you do for work, give a general category of work. This will make your actual job more interesting. For example instead of saying you work in medical sales, say you teach new medical techniques to surgeons. You can also just share the general industry and then say you don’t like to talk about work much.

Law 5: So Much Depends On Reputation – Guard It With You Life

Summary: Reputation is one of the key ingredients in power. Good reputations can help you win or make you vulnerable to attack. Pay attention to the preliminary signs of a reputation attack and stop them. Learn to destroy enemies by attacking their reputation and letting them hang themselves in the court of public opinion.

Keys To Power: Reputation allows you to control to some degree how the world perceives you. When you are in a new situation, look for the things that culture values and exemplify them. Focus it around one characteristic. If you are in a situation where your reputation is already set and it is not advantageous, associate yourself with someone who has the opposite reputation.

Use satire and ridicule to attack your opponent’s reputation. Don’t go too far when attacking them as you will start to look bad.

Reversal: There is no reversal to this law. Always play a roll in fashioning your reputation.

Example: Establish a reputation for being a hard worker who always hits deadlines. When an important project comes down the pipe, you will be chosen over others if the deadline is important. See our article on dealing with character assassination for more.

Law 6: Court Attention At All Costs

Summary: You must constantly seek attention so you do not become irrelevant.

I: People crave those who stand above the general and typical. Don’t worry about the type of attention be it negative or positive, because any level of notoriety will increase your power.

II: Never make it clear, obvious, or predictable what you are up to. Obscuring your plans creates attention and anticipation. Don’t worry about contradicting yourself or people not understanding you. This will inherently put people in an inferior position because they are trying to figure you out.

Keys To Power: Deliver on all the tasks you are given with splendor and dazzle. If you don’t have many opportunities to attract attention, attack the most powerful person you can find. Make sure you only use this tactic when you are small and unknown otherwise people will get annoyed with you eventually. Once you are in the center of public attention, creatively subvert what they expect you to do by doing the opposite. Try holding back, keeping quiet, uttering ambiguous ideas, and acting odd or inconsistent to what people expect. Ask yourself what others expect of you and then do the opposite. Try acting in ways that cannot be easily explained.

Reversal: Be careful to not outshine those above you or they will punish you. You must make your actions seem like a game and not a serious threat. Never compete with those above for attention.

Example: Create a social media presence that is different from those in your social group. Or don’t reveal too many details about your weekend at work. Just share enough to get people interested.

Law 7: Get Others To Do The Work For You, But Take The Credit

Summary: Use the knowledge and hard work of others to make yourself appear hyper efficient. Don’t do things that others can do just as well. Since people only remember results, they will forget those who contributed. Think of vultures and how they sit around patiently waiting for some animal to do the hard and dangerous work.

Keys To Power: Once you develop a power base, find ways to make it appear like you did all the work. You can also use the knowledge built by those in the past to jump ahead quickly. Borrow plots, ideas, formulas, and other tools instead of developing them yourself. You also can accomplish this by simply being the longest tenured person on a team. In time, your coworkers will move on and you will be the only face of the past successful project.

Reversal: If you are not sufficiently powerful you must be careful whose work you claim. Do not claim the work of those above you, and only claim the work of those below if you are sufficiently more powerful than them. Otherwise they will revolt and use their resources to attack you.

Example: If you manage a team, often those you manage won’t be present in meetings where you present the results of their work. Take credit for the better ideas.

Law 8: Make Other People Come To You – Use Bait If Necessary

Summary: Use bait to get other people to come to you. When you make them act, you are in control. Often the aggressor eventually loses power because he unites enemies and is never really in control. He is always reacting. Instead play for long term power.

Keys To Power: To play the long term game of power, first master your emotions so their influence on your decisions is minimized. Second, play on people’s natural tendency to react emotionally when baited or pushed. Find the person’s weakness , or the thing they can’t help but chase, and set a trap.

Reversal: Sometimes attacking first and rapidly can make others respond to you. But be careful, if your attacks are predictable, you will open yourself up for a trap, or become the overreaching aggressor who is never in control.

Example: Insult and attack people in private but be nice to everyone else in public. Doing this will make the person complain about how you are mean or they will attack you in public. The person will either be intimidated by the attacks or they will eventually be seen as the whiner of the group. Either way you win.

Law 9: Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument

Summary: Stop trying to achieve victory and dominance through argument. When you lose it is bad for you. When you win you create resentment and long term enemies. Instead show you are right by simply out performing others. Eventually it will be obvious that you are correct.

Keys To Power: Master the art of winning through action and demonstration. Show you won by leaving symbols of victory in your stead. Look for indirect routes to power that don’t require argumentation.

Reversal: Arguments do have one use, to distract people from what you are up to. If you are accused of deception act confused and argue with the person that your intentions were pure. Appear emotional and certain to sell it. Then layer on technical language to cover your tracks.

Example: Instead of arguing with your friends at who is the best at a video game, practice in secret and then beat them with ease. Pretend your talent is natural.

Law 10: Infection: Avoid The Unhappy And Unlucky

Summary: Emotional states of mind are infectious and can draw misfortune to you. Spending time with infectors can also bring you guilt by association. Instead focus on spending time with those that are fortunate.

Keys To Power: Judge people by the effect they have on the world. Look for turbulent pasts, broken relationships, unstable careers. Avoid those people. Look for those who have the opposite qualities you seek, and spend time with them. If you are miserly, associate with a generous person.

Reversal: There is no reversal to this law. Nothing can be gained by associating with those who are miserable.

Example: Find friends or roommates who encourage you and are ambitious. Their behavior will infect you in a good way. Avoid physically sitting by coworkers and other people who constantly whine about the same things and never act.

Law 11: Learn To Keep People Dependent On You

Summary: If people depend on you, you will have more freedom. The more important the thing people depend on you for is, the more power you have. Remember to never teach people enough so that they can stop coming to you for the thing they want. Teach them just enough to keep a good image but no so much that they can replace you.

Keys To Power: To create dependence you must have a skill that is relatively rare. Look for situations where you can easily find a new master but the master cannot easily replace you. Once you found this situation, use your specialized knowledge to convince people they cannot live without you. Entrench yourself in important areas so that to get rid of you would mean chaos. Learn people’s secrets so you can take them down with you if you fall.

Reversal: Creating dependence can cause people to resent you. It can also cause you to isolate yourself to some degree, making you more vulnerable if the ship goes down.

Example: Teach people how to make a recipe or meal but leave out one key ingredient or technique. They will keep coming back to you, wanting more.

Law 12: Use Selective Honesty And Generosity To Disarm Your Victim

Summary: People’s suspicions can be allayed with one sincere and honest open hearted action. Use selective honesty to create weaknesses in people’s armor so you can later attack or manipulate.

Keys To Power: Distraction is the essence of deception. Try being selectively honest in first encounters to form a great first impression. It will take tons of dishonesty to overcome this first impression. You can use any noble gesture to disarm a person like selflessness, generosity, and gift giving. Selective kindness can also be used as a sort of Trojan horse. If you have a chance to take advantage of someone early on in a relationship, consider not taking it to gain their trust.

Reversal: No level of positive actions will make up for a reputation of deceit. If you have this reputation it is best to just play into it on a lower level. People will think you are predictable and not see the greater scheme.

Example: Compliment people on a characteristic they seem to value with a specific example. If they value intelligence, tell them in detail you thought their last accomplishment was smart.

Law 13: When Asking For Help, Appeal To People’s Self-Interest, Never To Their Mercy Or Gratitude

Summary: This law is founded on the persuasive principle of aligning your plan with another person’s self interest. Don’t remind them of how you have helped or served them in the past as it will stir up negative emotions. Instead, tell them how they will benefit by working with you.

Keys To Power: Understand the person you are dealing with and what they want. How are they motivated? Are they vain? Are they greedy?

Reversal: Some people will be put off by you appealing to their self interest. Instead appeal to their charity or other values they project.

Example: Instead of asking your friends for help when you are moving houses by reminding them of how you helped them, tell them if they help they will get first dibs on any exercise equipment you aren’t taking with you.

Law 14: Pose As A Friend, Work As A Spy

Summary: Develop spies so you can gain information on your rival. Information can help you out strategize and out maneuver them. You can also play the role of spy yourself. Learn to probe for information when you are talking to people. Ask indirect questions and look for everyone’s desires, weaknesses, intentions, and values.

Keys To Power: Put on a friendly front to gather information. Ask questions and get the person talking. Try blurting out something that seems like a secret and watching people’s reactions. Similarly you can share different pieces of information with people to see who leaks what you say. Pretend to bear your heart to someone and wait to see if they do it back to you. Try vehemently contradicting what people say to make them react emotionally.

Reversal: When people spy on you give out false information so their attacks will be less potent.

Example: Instead of attacking your enemy immediately, pretend to be their friend. Talk to them about their dreams and desires. From those desires you can infer their weaknesses and ways you can cause them pain and irritation.

Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally

Summary: If you are dealing with an enemy, crush them completely. If they survive, their resentment and bitterness will grow until they have enough power to strike you back. Thus, stopping half way through an attack will cause you significant long term problems.

Keys To Power: Allow your enemies no options, no room to negotiate, and no hope for victory. Recognize people for whom there is no possibility of peace and plan to trap and banish them.

Reversal: When you have someone on the ropes, sometimes it is best to step back and let them hang themselves.

Example: If you have a problem with an employee, instead of coming to them right away, start gathering information you can use to fire them.

Law 16: Use Absence To Increase Respect And Honor

Summary: Too much of something decreases the price. Once you are established, withdraw and people will begin to wonder what is happening with you. Increase your value by being more scarce.

Keys To Power: Learn to read the room and see when you need to be more or less present. When you first meet people, you need to increase your presence until your brand is everywhere. Once you start to become valued, you must withdraw so you don’t become too common.

Reversal: This law only works once you have a certain level of power and attention. In the beginning make yourself omnipresent.

Example: Once a new friend group gets to know and enjoy you, suddenly stop showing up. Return sporadically and unpredictably, sensing whether you need to increase or decrease your time with them depending on how they react to you.

Law 17: Keep Others In Suspended Terror: Cultivate An Air Of Unpredictability

Summary: Humans seek control and stability and familiarity. If you are predictable, you give them these feelings, and you will cease to have their attention and focus. Instead be unpredictable. This captures attention and can even intimidate your opponents.

Keys To Power: Powerful people create fear by occasionally striking when people least expect it. Lead them to make one assumption about what you want and then scold them for assuming. Treat people well then switch and start treating them with disdain. These actions will cause them to surrender to your will as they will begin to get confused as to what you want. Throwing in moves that don’t make sense puts people on the defensive, trying to understand and make sense of you.

Reversal: Sometimes being predictable can be of benefit to you. Predictable patterns can lull people into a sense of security. This creates smoke screens for your actions, and makes your unpredictable moments even more shocking.

Example: Switch up your preferences on a regular basis. This will make you more difficult to predict in conversation.

Law 18: Do Not Build Fortresses To Protect Yourself – Isolation Is Dangerous

Summary: Enemies are all over so you must protect yourself. Fortresses seem to be a good choice but isolation often brings more problems than it solves. It stops you from receiving information and makes you a target. Best to continue to build alliances. Fortresses kill flexibility.

Keys To Power: Place yourself at the center of the action and instead of running when attacked, keep your options open. Try to network in more and in different circles. Become a fast and ever moving creature, jumping from group to group. That will make you harder to pinpoint and attack.

Reversal: Isolation is usually bad. But isolation can facilitate deep thought and can allow you to gain perspective. Be careful that you don’t stay isolated for too long as it becomes harder and harder to escape.

Example: If you are thinking of making a serious decision in life, take time to think. This could be about a career change, a relationship, or something else. Go into the wilderness or on a trip by yourself and clear your mind.

Law 19: Know Who You’re Dealing – Do Not Offend The Wrong Person

Summary: Since people are all different, your actions will effect people in different ways. Be careful of those who will spend the rest of their lives seeking revenge. Choose a victim carefully.

Keys To Power: Understanding people is the most important skill in gaining and keeping your power. Study people’s weaknesses and strengths. Look for pride and insecurity. Know how they act under stress, sadness, and anger. Be careful of relying on your instincts and people’s appearances.

Reversal: There is no reversal since you can’t gain from being ignorant about other people.

Example: If you’ve ever seen undercover boss, you have a perfect example of this law. A boss pretends to be a normal worker to see how his business is run on the lower levels. Often the boss discovers that some employees are toxic jerks and others are helpful. Usually the boss reveals themself at the end of the show and fires the toxic employees.

Law 20: Do Not Commit To Anyone

Summary: Don’t rush to choose a side or commit to something. Instead stay as independent as possible and delay any commitments. This allows you more flexibility to play people against each other, yielding you better options. Refusing to commit also increases your value and respect as you become someone who doesn’t just jump on one side or another at the drop of a hat.

Keys To Power: Part I and II. Put yourself between competing powers, luring each side to make offers for your help. Stimulate their hopes of obtaining you with ambiguous hints, by seeming interested and supportive, and by giving gifts. If there are no quarrels between people, stir them up and offer to mediate. When one side begins to lose, only then should you step in and mediate.

Reversal: Be careful that you don’t play too many sides against each other. You might just create a bunch of people who all have a common goal, to attack you. Playing independent for too long might also cause people to lose interest in you.

Example: If a coworker is trying to get you on their side of a work debate, appear empathetic to their plight and seem supportive, but don’t commit to supporting them until there seems to be a clear loser.

Law 21: Play A Sucker To Catch A Sucker – Seem Dumber Than Your Mark

Summary: If you can convince your victims to feel that they are smarter than you, they will never suspect your actions. No one likes to feel dumber than the other person. You can also apply this to other areas like making people appear more sophisticated than you. This law works best for those who are arrogant and overconfident.

Keys To Power: Don’t insult someones brain power. Instead find ways to reassure them that they are smarter than you subliminally. This feeling of superiority will disarm their suspicion. Pretend to act in a way that you aren’t to make people have an inaccurate idea about you. Learn how to make use of the perception of stupidity.

Reversal: Revealing how smart you are rarely is useful. But as you are climbing to the top, you can’t be too dumb. Find a way to tell your superiors you are smarter than your competition or you might be passed over.

Example: Pretend to be dumb on the outside in a business deal. When you write the contract, you will be able to sneak in all sorts of extra details the other person won’t suspect because they think they are smarter than you.

Law 22: Use The Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness Into Power

Summary: Try the surrender tactic if you are weaker instead of fighting for honor. Surrendering irritates the opponent because they cannot gain the satisfaction of finishing you. Surrendering also helps you recover and gives you time to plan an attack for when your enemy is weak.

Keys To Power: Yielding can convince people that they have defeated you even when they have not. Ensure you only appear to surrender. Work your way into the enemy’s confidences, learning their weaknesses and strengths. You can also use this tactic to mock your enemy. If they attack, go over the top illustrating how powerful they are in your reactions. Over obedience can become a tool for attacking back when you have the worse hand.

Reversal: Leave martyrdom alone and ignore this reversal to the law.

Example: If someone insults you instead of reacting and insulting them back, try over obedience. Proclaim loudly that they hurt your feelings. Do so in a mocking and sarcastic way.

Law 23: Concentrate Your Forces

Summary: Stop jumping from thing to thing. Instead focus your forces and attack one task or person. Focused intensity defeats those that fight in an extended manner. When you are looking for a power source, look for one source that can give you resources for a long period of time.

Keys To Power: Freedom can come from attaching yourself to a single source of power. Choose one focus for your actions and do nothing else.

Reversal: Concentration can be dangerous when you are fighting a stronger army. In those situations it is best to take the guerrilla tactic and frustrate them with your elusive and unpredictable strikes. Concentrating on one thing also has another danger. If that campaign or person dies, you suffer seriously.

Example: Instead of starting battles with all of the coworkers you dislike, focus on only attacking the one that causes you the most issue.

Law 24: Play The Perfect Courtier

Summary: The perfect courtier knows how to be flexible and indirect. He can assert power when necessary and yield when it benefits him. Learn this skill and you will rise in any situation.

Keys To Power: Avoid talking about your great deeds because this draws attention and suspicion. Practice making things seem easy and effortless. Flatter, but not too much since excessive flattery devalues what you say. Indirectly set up situations where you can be noticed. Change your behavior and style based on the person you are interacting with. Never be the person who brings bad news. Don’t be the person who first asserts themself as the friendly subordinate. instead let your master initiate friendliness with you. Don’t criticize the people directly above you. Be careful how many favors you ask. Don’t joke about a person’s taste. Avoid becoming the court cynic as you will bring a cloud of misery along with you. Observe yourself and learn how to mirror others. Master your emotional side so it does not cause you issues. Keep your thinking up to date with the times, being neither too forward or past focused. Become a pleasure source for people.

Reversal: No reversal.

Example: When you enter a new friend group, find out what everyone wants and become a source for that want. If they like video games, throw a semi regular game party. Now you control who gets invited and who doesn’t.

Law 25: Recreate Yourself

Summary: Create an identity that captures attention. Often this means rejecting social prerogatives. Find ways to make yourself seem larger than life by including dramatic actions, gestures, and devices.

Keys To Power: You must have the ability to create your own image. First be self aware of your appearance and emotions. This allows you to control yourself better. Second create a memorable character to play. Pay attention to timing when you make your first dramatic entrance. Unfold events slowly and then speed them up. Think of ways to answer the questions people ask while still remaining ambiguous, comedic, and double edged. Learn to appreciate stage entrances and exits. Be careful to not overreact. Lastly, learn to play many roles and faces.

Reversal: There is no reversal. Bad acting is always harmful and reduces your power.

Example: When you speak, use speed, tone, and information to captivate the audience. Think of ways you can be funny and ambiguous.

Law 26: Keep Your Hands Clean

See a full analysis of this law here.

Summary: Maintaining an appearance of civility, efficiency, and unspoildness means separating yourself from nasty deeds. Appear spotless by using people to disguise your involvement with scapegoating and cat’s paws.

Keys To Power: People experience blame and guilt. You can get rid of a society or groups feelings by choosing a scapegoat and blaming all the mistakes and ill on it. Typically you want to choose someone who is less powerful and can’t fight back, but sometimes choosing someone who will fight back makes the scapegoat more believable. Ask yourself what you have to gain by choosing one scapegoat over another. Find someone who knows too much or is becoming disdainful of you.

The cats paw is a person who does the dirty work for you so you can remain clean. To do this you must disguise your goal and plan several moves in advance. Study how the person typically acts and find a way to use that behavior for your goals. Plant information with the person that they will then spread to your main target of attack.

Reversal: It can be advantageous to broadcast your involvement in certain situation. If people know you are responsible for a deed it can create a feeling of fear and intimidation. Think about the consequences of people discovering or not discovering your involvement. That will help you decide to use the strategy or the reversal.

Example: If you know a friend who is a gossip, plant information with them that will irritate your enemy. Try accidentally letting the information slip so they think it is more likely to be correct.

Law 27: Play On People’s Need To Believe To Create A Cult Like Following

Summary: People want to believe. Focus this desire on you by giving them purpose. Be vague and promise them what they want, if they follow. Keep people focused on enthusiasm rather than rational clear thinking. Create rituals and sacrifices for them to perform to prove their commitment. Remember, creating a cult like following relies strongly on your ability to convince others that you have something they want.

Keys To Power: Step 1 is to keep it vague and simple. Attract people’s attention with ambiguous words that promise something great, not concrete actions. Once people start to gather around you, move to the second step. Step 2 is to focus people on the visual and sensory over the rational and intellectual. Do this with luxury and impressive visuals. Appeal to all the senses. They will be so focused on what you have that they won’t think clearly about whether following you makes sense. The 3rd step is to organize your following by creating a hierarchy of followers with rituals for them to perform. Give leaders religious titles that convey their sanctity and power. Get them to donate money to your cause. Look to religion and copy elements to complete this step. 4th you need to disguise how you really make money so people don’t realize they are the true source of your wealth. Make it seem like your money comes from the truth of your methods. Finally you need to create an us versus them dynamic. This keeps your followers bound together and united. Make them feel like they are part of an exclusive club with an important goal. Manufacture examples of the enemy trying to attack your group. Invent an enemy if you don’t have one.

Reversal: If you fail at the above steps you could end up with a group of people who want to attack you. Stay attuned to the mood of the crowd to ensure this doesn’t happen. Because of the risk of having a group of people attack you, you might prefer to focus on people one at a time. One person is easier to escape than a crowd.

Example: When you enter a new social environment figure out what they want. Display signs that you have what they want. Follow the steps above to grow your power.

Law 28: Enter Action With Boldness

Summary: It is best to be certain when you take an action. If you aren’t, it will show as you hesitate under pressure. Instead enter with boldness. Mistakes made can be fixed with more boldness. No one admires people who are timid.

Keys To Power: Hesitation puts roadblocks in your path while boldness removes them. Ask for the moon and you will be impressed how often you end up getting it. People have a sense for weakness. In first encounters be careful not to back down, retreat, or compromise. Boldness makes you seem more powerful because it creates fear. This sets a precedent for how people expect you to act. Audacity makes you stand out, and standing out draws power.

Reversal: If you are too bold too frequently, it can begin to make it harder to strategize. While being timid has no place in power, you must be able to fake it so people fall into your traps.

Example: Instead of staying in the back of the room, move to the middle and start socializing with everyone as soon as you arrive. This will quell much social anxiety.

Law 29: Plan All The Way To the End

Summary: In order to achieve victory you must plan all the way to the end. Study the obstacles, twists, and consequences that your moves might have. If you have a good plan you won’t get overwhelmed. You also won’t go past your goal.

Keys To Power: Make your plans and goals extremely specific. Be realistic about the risks and dangers you will encounter. Ask if you will stir up new enemies. Ask if you can avoid taking an action and still get to your goal. Often achieving power is about what you avoid doing just as much as what actions you take.

Reversal: People lose more from vague plans than they do from the rigidity of a well thought out strategy. There is no real purpose for thinking about a reversal to this law.

Example: Create a detailed career plan. Study the resumes of those who’s position you desire. Ask yourself what are the necessary skills and connections they all have? What skills, connections, and traits would give you the most possible leverage when compared to your peers.

Law 30: Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless

Summary: Hide all the hard work that goes into your accomplishments. If you hide how hard you work it creates an aura of mystery and power. If you tell others how hard you work it only makes them less impressed. Don’t teach people the tricks you use or you should expect them to get used against you. If you conceal your hard work, people will begin to think of how much more you could accomplish if you tried even more. This elicits fear. If people think you are the only one who can do what you do it also increases your leverage.

Keys To Power: People are in awe of what they don’t understand (lightning used to be passed off as something caused by the gods). Practice making everything you do effortless. Conceal your shortcuts and tricks that you use to get things done. Avoid the temptation of telling others how hard you work or showing how clever you are. Before you speak ask yourself if you are breaking this law in order to have your vanity satisfied. Consider not revealing your project until it is complete.

Reversal: Careful not to appear to be trying too hard to conceal your work. It can come off as you taking the game too seriously or being a try hard. You might want to involve people in the inner workings of your masterpieces sometimes. It can create a sense of attachment if done correctly. Try partially disclosing tricks and techniques when it most benefits you.

Example: If you are studying for a graduate or professional test, don’t tell anyone how long and hard you study. Instead, brush off any comments about the topic. When you score well, people will begin to think you are naturally talented or bright. This perception will positively effect other areas of your life as people will think you are more likely to be competent in those areas. This will lead them to be more likely to differ to you.

Law 31: Control The Options: Get Others To Play With The Cards You Deal

Summary: Give people the appearance of choice and they will feel in control. Make sure both options benefit you.

Keys To Power: People are paralyzed by unlimited options. Make sure you don’t give people too many choices or it will overwhelm them. You can also influence which choice people make by presenting one choice as the clear best option. Another trick is to push people towards the option you don’t want them to take and they will revolt and choose the opposite. Rockefeller used a technique that forced people’s hands. Instead of directly trying to buy their company, he would purchase all of the companies they worked with and then raise the prices. Eventually the company had to sell since they could no longer do business at that cost. You can also use the shrinking options technique. When people are hesitant to purchase, present them with three good options. They will want to think about it. When they come back, present them with three different options of lower quality. Pretend these options where the ones you showed them originally. Keep repeating this until they get desperate and buy. You can also do this by continually raising the price. Another method is to create fear in all the directions except the one you want people to take. Another key is to implicate people in a crime that could most hurt you. If you go down, they go down too. Finally you can use the horns of a dilemma trick. Present people with two narratives that both hurt them. Pressure them to choose one before they can think it through. A final thing to keep in mind is that you always want to make it seem like your target is responsible for any pain, problem, increase in price, or other issue that comes as you try to force them to action. If it looks like you hurt them on purpose, they won’t trust you. If it looks like they were hurt because of their indecision, they will accept it.

Reversal: Sometimes by limiting a person’s choice you limit your own options. Occasionally giving them lots of room to act gives you useful information about their behavior. Make sure the benefit of controlling the options is more valuable than the information you gain from watching them roam free.

b at you are happy with. Make both seem intriguing by citing reviews and appealing dishes.

Law 32: Play To People’s Fantasies

Summary: People avoid reality and the truth because life is hard. Don’t bring it up unless you want to make people angry. On the other hand people who create romance or fantasy have people flock to them to live in a fantasy world.

Keys To Power: Fantasy works best on people who have a stable, mundane, and boring life. Look for what imprisons them and find a way to create a fantasy that liberates it. Examples include poor to rich, sick to healthy, weak to powerful, and misery to ecstasy. The key is to employ distance in your fantasy by making what they want ungraspable. Stay vague in your promises.

Reversal: Sometimes people have such a crazy life that their fantasy is the simple life.

Example: Instead of telling people that making it on the internet takes years of hard work, gurus focus on people who’ve made it to sell the idea the success is “just around the corner.”

Law 33: Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew

Summary: Everyone has a weakness that can be exploited to your advantage. Typically weaknesses are found near strong emotions, needs, secret pleasures, or insecurities. Make a habit of finding people’s weaknesses.

Keys To Power: Those who disguise their weaknesses are the ones most vulnerable to an attack if you find the right spot. Here are the steps. First, pay attention to conversations. Try sharing a fake weakness with the other person to see if they reciprocate a real one. Train yourself to look for details. How do they tip waiters? What do they wear? Look for their idols and the things they worship. Perhaps you can supply or threaten that. Second, try probing the supposed weakness. If you think the person needs love and attention, flatter them and watch how they react. If they lap up your words regardless of how obvious they are, you are headed down the right path. Third, pay attention to what makes them act like a child. Keep in mind most weaknesses are created from childhood. Were they overindulged or ignored? Look for behavior that doesn’t match adulthood and should have been outgrown. Fourth, look for contrasts in their image. People who bang on their chests are often cowards. You can even look for a person who has a larger effect on someone’s ideas and behavior. Fifth, fill the void the person is missing, for example, giving social validation to the insecure. Finally, find the root emotions like fear, vanity, hatred, lust, or greed. People who feel these emotions can’t control themselves.

Reversal: Attacking a person’s weakness might stir up an attack or emotion you can’t control. Plan accordingly for all reactions. Beware, the more weakness a person has the greater potential problems and damage they could unleash. Don’t get carried away.

Example: Some people are deeply hurt by social embarrassment. Pretend to be their friend to find out their most embarrassing moment. Then bring it up in a public place when they act in a way you don’t want.

Greene gives an example of a young king who was controlled by his mother. The mother was influenced by her lover. A man came to court and began to climb the ladder of power. He realized the lover had much influence on what happened. The man wanted to eliminate those who stood between his position and the king. So he started treating the lover as if he was the actual king. Eventually the king became jealous and killed the lover and took control of the kingdom. The man moved up the ladder of power and became a powerful leader.

Law 34: Be Royal In Your Own Fashion: Act Like A King To Be Treated Like One

Summary: People treat others based on how they perceive them. If you carry yourself well, people will treat you that way. If you appear to be like everyone else, people will disrespect you. Act regally and confident so others think you are destined to lead.

Keys To Power: Use the strategy of the crown. It is to believe we are destined for great things. Do this by overcoming your self doubt and filling you mind with self belief. Focus on your successes and ignore your failures. Act with dignity regardless of the circumstance. Act if you are already at the top of the social ladder. Always make bold demands. Go after the highest person in the building or social ladder. This puts you on the same plane as the person you are attacking. A similar thing can be accomplished by giving people gifts. It creates an equality between the giver and receiver.

Reversal: If you act better than people it can turn them against you. Never think that you can elevate yourself by humiliating others.

Example: Dress slightly better than the people around you. Always have good posture. Don’t go too overboard because it might cause jealousy.

Law 35: Master The Art Of Timing

Summary: If you seem like you are in a hurry it makes you look weak. You don’t appear to have control over time, your schedule, and your actions. Instead, pretend to be patient and everything you want will find its way to you eventually. Focus on being a detective. Spot the zeitgeist and follow it to power. Wait when the time isn’t right and attack quickly when it is.

Keys To Power: Time slows when you control your emotions. Control of your emotions is the main requirement for this law. People who hurry might get there first from time to time, but they will find themselves in constant crises that wipe out the small gains. Instead, slow down when pressured and you will make better decisions. Slowing down will help you avoid traps, see further forward in time, be more flexible, and complete tasks instead of jumping to new ones. In some situations you might need to control other people’s emotions. You can used time as an offensive weapon, upsetting the timing of others. Make them hurry, wait, or change pace. Making them follow your pace also has a hypnotic effect, especially in storytelling. Learn more about why storytelling is important here .

Reversal: There is no reversal since giving up control over time inherently brings less power.

Example: Instead of following the crowd to the current popular trend, invest your time into spotting the next trend. Create a strategy that will allow you to capitalize on it before everyone else. This works extremely well on social media. For example, does a person who sets trends have a new look? Do they commonly reveal albums during the same time of year? Once you can figure this out, use deduction to come up with as much information about the upcoming trend as you can so you can be ahead of the game when it strikes.

Law 36: Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Them Is The Best Revenge

Summary: Sometimes ignoring a problem really is the best way to minimize it or make it go away. By acknowledging the issue or trying to fix it you make it credible. If there is something you can’t have but that you want, pretend to dislike it. By not revealing your desires you seem more superior. Desire that you don’t seem to control makes you seem pathetic or weak.

Keys To Power: Commitment and engagement can weaken your power. Instead, when you want something turn and pretend you don’t. If an insignificant enemy attacks you, you can only lose by fighting back. If you win you look petty and create sympathy for the other side. If you lose, well you lost.

If you can’t have something, act as if you never wanted it in the first place. If you are attacked by an inferior person, portray the image of someone who wasn’t even attacked. Answer kindly, look the other way, or join in on the joke.

Reversal: Be careful of the problems that grow if you ignore them. Ignore publicly but keep track privately if the person seems to have markers of future power.

Example: If you cannot have the newest gadget, look up all the problems with it. Simply cite your newfound issues with the product when asked why you didn’t upgrade.

Law 37: Create Compelling Spectacles

Summary: People respond to grand imagery and impressive gestures. It captivates them. While people are watching the spectacle you put forth, you can go about your business.

Keys To Power: A sufficient impressive spectacle makes verbal argument and reasoning unnecessary. Explaining yourself means your power is under question. To use symbols and images correctly in your spectacles, first pay attention to how you display things visually. Research the effects of colors on people’s perception. Associate yourself with powerful symbols and people will perceive you as having immense power. Pay attention to sequence as the first thing to show up symbolizes power. The center object has a similar appeal. The commander of a tank battalion appeared at the front and in the center, so many from other armies started thinking he was in charge. Find a way to use symbols to encapsulate your movement.

Reversal: There is no reversal to this law.

Example: Dress like your manager. Dress like the people whose job you desire.

Law 38: Think As You Like But Behave Like The Others

Summary: Society attacks those who step out of line. If you flaunt your different lifestyle or thoughts, people will look down upon you, thinking you view yourself as superior. They will try to punish you. Instead appear to blend in.

Keys To Power: Practice putting on a mask similar to those around you . Repeat parts of people’s ideas back to them. Mirror their style, behaviors, values, and desires. But be coy about how you copy people as they will potentially catch on.

Reversal: When you have enough power it is usually worth standing out since you stand out anyway. You can also find a place as the person who flaunts culture under certain circumstances. Comedians often make jokes most couldn’t get away with, but they do largely because they are funny.

Example: If you live in an area that has a different political opinion, pretend to not care or be sympathetic to their cause. Instead challenge their views of your true side’s arguments by acting as an insider.

Law 39: Stir Up Waters To Catch Fish

Summary: Create situations that put people off balance by finding an opening in their armor and attacking their vanity. This will stir up emotions which make it easier for you to deal with them and pull their strings.

Keys To Power: You don’t need to repress your anger, simply reframe it. Understand that nothing is personal in the game of power and people are simply acting on a chain of events that probably started long before you arrived. Don’t be vain and think you are significant enough to have been the sole cause of their behavior. Acting out of anger usually cuts off your options and you need options to thrive. Instead attack the manhood of the insecure, or bait the arrogant into rash behavior. Nothing makes people as angry as someone stays calm while others are angry.

Reversal: If you stir up the wrong person you could end up provoking a conflict you can’t win. There are also times when a well timed burst of anger can do you well.

Example: Find out what your enemy’s weakness is by studying how they act with others and what makes them angry. Then when everyone is watching, poke that weakness and watch as their anger makes them look like a child in front of everyone.

Law 40: Despise The Free Lunch

Summary: When people give others something for free it often involves a hidden obligation or expectation for your actions. If something is valuable, pay for it. When you do this you avoid guilt and deceit. When you do have money, be generous with it as it is a sign of power, and can also draw more power to you.

Keys To Power: There are people who have weak relationships with money. The Greedy Fish ends up isolated because they look at everything as a balance sheet. They offend people. The Bargain Demon wastes time hunting for a deal, even if their time is more valuable than the money they saved. The Sadist uses money to assert their power. They think that giving you money means they can meddle in all aspects of your position and torture and abuse you. The Indiscriminate Giver wants people to like them so they just give to everyone. But this deprives the gift of any power since everyone gets one.

Reversal : You can apply the opposite of this law by dangling a free lunch in front of someone. Bait them with easy money and once they commit find a way to make it back and then some.

Example: Give gifts to key people in your social group. They will believe they are special and feel the need to repay later.

Law 41: Avoid Stepping Into A Great Man’s Shoes

Summary: If you follow someone who has done a decent or great job, you will have to accomplish double in order to outshine their actions. Avoid getting stuck in their shadow. Instead build your own identity and reputation. Go your own way.

Keys To Power: The past can prevent you from creating your own world. Tradition and precedent hold you back. One way to escape is to belittle the past. Establish a symbolic ritual different from your predecessor. If they played golf, play football. Don’t ever be seen to follow your predecessor’s path. Become your own father. Be careful that success doesn’t turn you into a fat and lazy person, find a way to psychologically return to square one.

Reversal : Sometimes displaying how different you are from the person before can make you seem childish or uncontrolled. Sometimes the past really has useful elements you can learn from. You can also use a reversed version of this law to stop the future power wielders from gaining momentum. Hire them as assistants and then make it so they can never leave your side. Use psychological tricks to make them feel inferior. Use social tricks to make them seem undesirable.

Example: Instead of entering the same field as your parent, choose another career path that has high possibilities of growth.

Law 42: Strike The Shepherd And The Sheep Will Scatter

Summary: Some people are irredeemable. They never cease to cause problems. You must learn to spot them and attack mercilessly. Don’t negotiate. Seek to banish or isolate them and your other people problems will scatter.

Keys To Power: Find the person who is at the core of problems. Point them out to people discretely. Separate them from their power base. Remember absence from the court is isolation. Lure your enemies away from power at critical moments. New environments make people more vulnerable and uncomfortable. Seek out those with power who are isolated. Provide them with information they lack. Remember the reason you strike the shepherd is that it will scare their followers and make them retreat. It also serves to flush out any additional enemies you might have, and causes disorder in the resistance.

Reversal: Sometimes you can minimize a person’s damage and cause them more harm if you keep them by your side. Banishing them can cause resentment and make them fight harder. Keeping them by your side gives you opportunities to thwart their actions, and chances to spy. This also lets you whither away their power base so you can eventually discard them.

Example: If one employee is constantly fighting against your plans, try to fire them or stick them on a solo project where they can’t build support or cause issues.

Law 43: Work On The Hearts And Minds Of Others

Summary: It is best to make people want to move in your direction instead of using force to compel them. Learn their psychology and their weaknesses. Play to their emotions and what they fear and desire. If you don’t pay attention to people’s desires and instead use force, they will eventually start to hate you.

Keys To Power: The key to persuading people is to work on their emotions and weaknesses. Look for what the share with others and what makes them different. Look to focus on their main emotions like jealousy, love, and hatred. The fastest way to win a person’s mind is to tell them how an action will serve their self interest. Learn to play the numbers game by forming a large network of both those with and with out power.

Example: Instead of sharing your reasons why someone should act, tell them why the action will benefit them. If you sell software, tell the customer how the software will make them more efficient, bring less stress and confusion, and reduce training costs.

Law 44: Disarm And Infuriate With The Mirror Effect

Summary: If you mirror your enemy it makes it more difficult for them to figure out what you are up to. It is perfect for deception. Mirroring humiliates and mocks them and can lead to overreactions. Seduce people by making them think you share the same values.

Keys To Power: There are four mirror effects. The Neutralizing Effect means enemies can’t spot what you are up to since you are just copying them. Next is the Shadow. Following their moves with out them spotting you can allow you to gather information and attack their every move. Another is called the Narcissus Effect. When you mimic a person psychologically it satisfies their lack of self love from their childhood. They begin to think of you as another version of themselves. The Moral Effect is another version. In this version you reflect the words, actions, or thoughts back at the person, giving them a taste of their own medicine. Do what they do to you. If they insult your appearance, insult theirs. When their actions come back to them they experience the harm they caused in a way not possible through discussion or argument. Finally is the Hallucinatory Effect. It happens when you create a perfect copy of something and that copy mimics the actual world enough to trick you.

Reversal: Mirroring something might make you seem like a weaker version of the thing you copy. Mirroring can also start to persuade you that the thing you mirror is what you actually desire.

Example: If someone insults you, insult them in a similar way. If they accuse you of something, find a way to accuse them of the same thing, muddying the waters.

Law 45: Preach The Need For Change, But Never Reform Too Much At Once

Summary: Too much change can cause people to revolt. If you are creating your power base, don’t change too much. Show that you respect the old ways. Make any necessary change seem like an improvement on what was already happening in the past.

Keys To Power: It is easier to preach change with out changing too much. If you must, seek to reinterpret the past in a way that supports your desired movement. Keep the rituals and appearances of the past to give your new changes legitimacy. Another way to hide change is to publicly make a declaration of support for the past. Appear to be a staunch past supporter and few people will realize how much you are changing. New ways of seeing the world often triumph not because it convinces opponents but because those opponents die and the new generation is familiar. You must also pay attention to the zeitgeist and calibrate your reforms so they don’t appear to change too much.

Reversal: Revolution can work well but only in a period of stagnation. Be careful because if you join the revolution few live to see the finish line. It also works well when there is a period where the masses begin to resent parts of the past. Fill the void with new things they prefer.

Example: If you live in an are that doesn’t match your political beliefs, find a way to reinterpret your desired changes as outgrowths of their policies.

Law 46: Never Appear Too Perfect

Summary: It is dangerous to appear to have no faults since envy creates resentment and enemies. Occasionally share defects in categories that can’t really harm you.

Keys To Power: People hide envy with excessive praise or by finding other things the person is not perfect in. You can use this envy as a motivator to compete and make yourself better. Make sure to disguise your skills and qualities so people don’t turn and fight against you. You can also act humbly and deferentially to those below you. Play up the role of luck in your accomplishments. Another tactic is to make a show of refusing the new elevated position before accepting it. Next you can create a fictional weakness that those who envy you can focus so they don’t find your main problems. This will make them seem petty. Finally you can subtly mention to others how your new success will benefit them.

Reversal: Once people envy you the best approach is to display disdain for them. Make your perfection obvious and it will irritate them.

Example: Once you are at the top of your friend group, share a weakness to make yourself seem more human. Maybe you are terrible at singing.

Law 47: Do Not Go Past The Mark You Aimed For: In Victory, Learn When To Stop

Summary: The arrogant undo themselves when they win by going past the goal they aimed for. When you do this you move into an area you didn’t strategize for. This makes you more enemies than you originally planned for and defeated in the first conquest. Set a goal for yourself and then learn to stop once you reach it.

Keys To Power: The essence of strategic action is the ability to control what happens or doesn’t happen next. This ability comes because of planning. When you win, lie low and lure the enemy into complacency. Learn to change your rhythm. It is also dangerous to ask for more when given a chance or gift. Instead accept the opportunity graciously. Earn future gifts.

Reversal: Either destroy a person or leave them alone. Momentum is overrated.

Example: When you play sports, try to win. But when victory is clear, there is no need to humiliate the opposition. You then create enemies that will carry their irritation outside the game and into the real world.

Law 48: Assume Formlessness

Summary: Stay adaptable and fluid like water and your enemy will find it difficult to attack you. Visible plans and concrete habits make you predictable and attack able. Remember nothing in life is fixed or certain.

Keys To Power: Power comes to those who express creativity and entertain people. Guerrilla warfare demonstrates this law well by attacking and then retreating and then attacking again when unexpected. Train yourself to not take things personally. Flexibility and change in your behavior gives you the power to alter your rules when they cease to suit you anymore. Predictability and largeness are ways of getting attacked. Another way you can lose power is when you allow people to disdain and ridicule you over long periods of time. These attacks eventually erode your power. Eventually the jokes and quips evolve into dominance challenges. Learn to adapt to new circumstances by throwing out the old rules. Too much respect for what other people think will make you value your own wisdom less.

Reversal: When attacking you must make it a concentrated blow regardless of whether you are being fluid in your larger strategy.

Example: Some think the laws of power contradict themselves. Remember they are just tools to be picked up and put down when it suits you best. Be flexible in your application of what you learned.

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The bottom line is that hardcover books like the 48 Laws Of Power are so much more expensive because people are willing to pay more. One main reason is that it protects the book and increases its longevity. Additionally hardcover books are more likely to be collectible.

Hardcover books in general are more expensive because of the increased level of material used in their production. The increase in material protects the book better and gives it an image of higher quality. Publishers exploit all of these common perceptions and charge more for the book.

How Much Does The Book 48 Laws Of Power Cost?

The book costs between $14.99 and $89.91, depending on seasonal sales and whether it is soft or hardback. Typically you can get the soft cover book on Amazon for about $20 and the hard cover for about $90.

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The 48 Laws Of Power Summary

1-Sentence-Summary:   The 48 Laws Of Power draws on many of history’s most famous power quarrels to show you what power looks like, how you can get it, what to do to defend yourself against the power of others and, most importantly, how to use it well and keep it.

Favorite quote from the author:

The 48 Laws of Power Summary

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It’s especially popular with rappers and hip-hop artists, but many celebrities quote from the book and mention the laws’ influence on their life. 50 Cent is just one of them, with whom Greene ended up collaborating on another book. Most of the 48 laws draw on a specific situation from history, and even though some of them seem to contradict one another, there’s a precious lesson to be learned from every single one.

Here are 3 lessons about power to help you understand it better:

  • Always make superiors look smarter than you.
  • Confuse competitors by acting unpredictably.
  • Don’t force others to do what you want, seduce them instead.

Want to discover where Kanye gets his power? Let’s study the actual laws of the world!

If you want to save this summary for later, download the free PDF and read it whenever you want.

Lesson 1: Always make superiors look smarter than you.

Here’s one surefire way how to  not get promoted: When your boss comes across a problem she can’t solve on her computer, go to her, and, as you fix it, say: “Seeeeee? That’s how you do it. No problem, I’m happy to help!”

The one thing people in a position of power don’t want is to look powerless . But when you flaunt your skills right in front of them, that’s exactly what happens. The French minister of finance under King Louis XIV, Nicolas Fouquet, paid for that lesson with a life in prison. When he threw an excessive party at his chateau in favor of the king, the king accused him of stealing, for no one man could legally be that wealthy, and threw him into prison.

So instead of showing off how good  you are, make your boss look like  she’s the smartest person in the room, even if you know she isn’t. Give away credit and you’ll be given responsibility in return .

For example, when Galileo Galilei discovered the four moons of Jupiter, he could’ve taken all that credit. Instead, he named them after the Grand Duke, Cosimo II de’ Medici, and his brothers. As a result Cosimo appointed him as his official philosopher and mathematician, securing Galileo’s funding for his research for years to come.

Lesson 2: Make errors on purpose to confuse your competition.

Sometimes the competition seems to always be one step ahead of you. That’s likely because they’ve invested time and energy into researching you and finding out your behavior patterns. When that happens, your best move is to act unpredictably. Do the opposite of what you think people expect, make a mistake on purpose, or just disappear for a while.

Erroneous behavior throws people off their analysis game , and while they’re busy trying to figure out your new pattern and explaining your behavior, you have the chance to strike back.

This is one of the first lessons good poker players learn. If you only play hands when you’ve hit at least a pair or above, the other players will quickly be on to you and fold every time you bet. But throw in a bluff or two, which you commit to and ride out, even if you end up losing those hands, and your opponents can’t be so sure anymore.

Bobby Fischer used this exact strategy to confuse Boris Spassky in their match for the 1972 world championship title in chess. He made a beginner’s mistake in their first game, didn’t even show up for the second one (and lose by forfeit, and returned only minutes before the third game started. Then he started making crazy demands, like moving cameras, switching rooms and exchanging chairs. Finally, he played openings completely atypical to his usual chess style, and eventually beat Spassky to become world champion.

Note:  I recently watched Pawn Sacrifice , a great movie about Bobby Fischer and this incident. Highly recommended.

Lesson 3: Seduce others into voluntarily doing what you want them to, instead of forcing them.

Even when you’re in a position of power already, people won’t always do what you want them to. When that’s the case, you should never resort to trying to force people to obey . Instead, make it impossible for them  not  to do what you’d like them to by seducing them .

Chuko Liang, head military strategist of ancient China used this to break his enemy, King Menghuo. Rather than destroying their entire army, when they attacked China, he captured them all, and then…

…served King Menghuo great wine and food. His soldiers saw this generosity, and after Liang was sure he had baffled them, he released them but kept King Menghuo hostage. Only after threatening that he’d have to bow to the Chinese king if he was captured again, did he release the enemy. Over the years, Liang  did capture Menghuo time and time again, each time making the same threat, yet always releasing his prisoner. After the seventh time, Menghuo surrendered, bowed to the king and gave up on his own accord.

Raw force only breeds resentment, so use seduction instead.

If you’re a “Mr. Nice Guy” like me,  The 48 Laws Of Power won’t tell you what you want to hear. However, it might be what you  need to hear, at least in some cases. I don’t agree with all the laws, but there’s a solid reason behind each of them. All in all a great read with lots to learn! Check out The Laws of Human Nature after that.

Listen to the audio of this summary with a free reading.fm account:

The 19 year old, who gets bullied in college for being a nerd, the 31 year old “overnight” celebrity, who struggles with dealing with the sudden fame and attention, and anyone who wants to learn more practical lessons from history than the ones taught in school.

Last Updated on July 29, 2022

book review of 48 laws of power

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The 48 Laws of Power Audio CD – Unabridged, March 1, 2021

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  • Print length 1 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Highbridge Audio and Blackstone Publishing
  • Publication date March 1, 2021
  • Dimensions 5.3 x 0.6 x 6.7 inches
  • ISBN-10 1665182768
  • ISBN-13 978-1665182768
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Editorial Reviews

"Beguiling...literate...fascinating. A wry primer for people who desperately want to be on top."

"Greene...has put together a checklist of ambitious behavior. Just reading the table of contents is enough to stir a little corner-office lust.""

"Satisfyingly dense and...literary, with fantastic examples of genius power-game players. It's The Rules meets In Pursuit of Wow! with a degree in comparative literature."

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Highbridge Audio and Blackstone Publishing; Unabridged edition (March 1, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Audio CD ‏ : ‎ 1 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1665182768
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1665182768
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 2.72 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.3 x 0.6 x 6.7 inches
  • #208 in Books on CD
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About the authors

Joost elffers.

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Robert Greene

Robert Greene is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, and The 50th Law. His highly anticipated fifth book, Mastery, examines the lives of great historical figures such as Charles Darwin, Mozart, Paul Graham and Henry Ford and distills the traits and universal ingredients that made them masters. In addition to having a strong following within the business world and a deep following in Washington, DC, Greene’s books are hailed by everyone from war historians to the biggest musicians in the industry (including Jay-Z and 50 Cent).

Greene attended U.C. Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he received a degree in classical studies. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

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COMMENTS

  1. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

    Amoral, cunning, ruthless, and instructive, this multi-million-copy New York Times bestseller is the definitive manual for anyone interested in gaining, observing, or defending against ultimate control - from the author of The Laws of Human Nature. In the book that People magazine proclaimed "beguiling" and "fascinating," Robert Greene and Joost Elffers have distilled three thousand ...

  2. A Review of 48 Laws of Power: Is it Worth the Read?

    What The 48 Laws Of Power Can Teach You About Gaining and Managing Power. We all want it: power. Whether it's gaining it or managing it, there's something inherently enticing about having control. Enter The 48 Laws of Power, a book that's been making the rounds amongst businesspeople and entrepreneurs alike for years.

  3. Thoughts on 48 Laws of Power? : r/books

    The book is divided into 48 chapters, each covers a different "Law of Power," which is what you must do to obtain power. In each chapter Greene explains the law and then gives several historical examples of people following and breaking the particular law of power. The book really shines in this department.

  4. Book Review: The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

    The 48 Laws of Power is a multi-million-copy New York Times bestseller, written by Robert Greene. Robert Greene has written several other popular books including The Laws of Human Nature, Mastery, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, and The 50th Law.. By far, his most popular book is The 48 Laws of Power.It is a book that is recommended by nearly anyone in the business ...

  5. THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

    THE 48 LAWS OF POWER. by Robert Greene ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 1998. If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it's a brilliant satire. The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power. Everyone wants power and everyone is in a ...

  6. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

    5- Review. "The 48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene is nothing short of a cerebral rollercoaster through the intricate web of human dynamics. From the outset, Greene captivates with his exploration of power, drawing on historical examples that range from the cunning to the ruthless. The book's allure lies in its unapologetic confrontation of the ...

  7. Robert Greene on his 48 laws of power: 'I'm not evil

    S ome people think Robert Greene is evil. They're the ones that read The 48 Laws of Power, his bestselling 1998 debut, saw the world depicted as a writhing snakepit of treachery and mind games ...

  8. Amazon.com: Customer reviews: The 48 Laws of Power

    The 48 Laws Of Power. Not sure where to really begin, but for people that say it is an "evil" book, you are taking it the wrong way. It is a powerful, self defense book NEEDED, because it literally teaches you how to deal with people out there in the world that are negative, toxic, liars, flatterers, fake, angry, suspicious, murderers and many more.

  9. The 48 Laws of Power: A Comprehensive Review

    The 48 Laws of Power is a classic book on the art of manipulation and strategy. In this comprehensive review, we explore the key principles and tactics outlined in the book, and how they can be applied in various contexts. From mastering the art of timing to cultivating an air of mystery, these laws offer valuable insights into the dynamics of power and influence.

  10. The 48 Laws of Power [Review]

    The 48 Laws of Power brings up more than a few ethical concerns-however, in a sense, they may not matter. If Greene's view of the world and society that he presents in the book are accurate, to abstain out of ethical principal would only insure that manipulators with the most gnarly intent would reach the heights of power.

  11. The 48 Laws of Power: Summary Review & Takeaways

    This is a summary review of The 48 Laws of Power containing key details about the book. What is The 48 Laws of Power About? Drawn from 3,000 years of the history of power, The 48 Laws of Power is a guide to help readers achieve for themselves what many powerful leaders learned the hard […]

  12. [BOOK REVIEW] The 48 Laws of Power

    The 48 Laws of Power, a self-improvement book exploring history's lessons through the lens of might, summarized visually for your entertainment with the author's permission. Keep in mind not ...

  13. The 48 Laws of Power

    The 48 Laws of Power (1998) is a self-help book by American author Robert Greene. ... Kirkus Reviews said Greene offers no evidence to support his world view, ... The 48 Laws of Power has sold over 1.2 million copies in the United States and has been translated into 24 languages.

  14. The 48 Laws of Power: Robert Greene, Joost Elffers: 9780670881468

    The 48 Laws of Power. Hardcover - October 31, 2023. Amoral, cunning, ruthless, and instructive, this multi-million-copy New York Times bestseller is the definitive manual for anyone interested in gaining, observing, or defending against ultimate control - from the author of The Laws of Human Nature. In the book that People magazine ...

  15. The 48 Laws of Power: Greene, Robert: 8601400945018: Amazon.com: Books

    Robert Greene is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, and The 50th Law. His highly anticipated fifth book, Mastery, examines the lives of great historical figures such as Charles Darwin, Mozart, Paul Graham and Henry Ford and distills the traits and universal ...

  16. 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

    An outstanding book that will no doubt remain a classic for a long time. 48 Laws of Power details the laws for attaining power in life, business, and more, and gives historical examples of each law in practice, as well as examples of those who do not respect these laws. A book I will continue to go back and reference.

  17. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene: Summary & Insights

    48 Laws of Power Summary. The 48 Laws of Power is a candid and controversial examination of power and its many dynamics. If you want to understand people and ascend in the world, this book is a good starting place. You'll learn about the nature of power, how to acquire it, and the dark ways in which people operate in the world.

  18. The 48 Laws Of Power Book Summary, Review, Notes

    A detailed book summary of Robert Greene's The 48 Laws of Power. The review explains every Law in detail, along with stories and quotes. ... Book Title: The 48 Laws of Power Author: Robert Greene Date of Reading: July-August, 2018 Rating: 10/10. Table of Contents . What Is Being Said In Detail:

  19. Book Review: The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

    This book by Robert Greene is, without a doubt, one of the very worst books I've ever read. It is ghastly on multiple levels. I do try to read an eclectic range of books and push myself to read recommended books I wouldn't normally bother with. I can't recall is 'The 48 Laws of Power' was recommended to me, or if it just kept coming ...

  20. The 48 Laws Of POWER by Robert Greene [List, Summary, Review]

    The increase in material protects the book better and gives it an image of higher quality. Publishers exploit all of these common perceptions and charge more for the book. How Much Does The Book 48 Laws Of Power Cost? The book costs between $14.99 and $89.91, depending on seasonal sales and whether it is soft or hardback.

  21. The 48 Laws Of Power Summary

    1-Sentence-Summary: The 48 Laws Of Power draws on many of history's most famous power quarrels to show you what power looks like, how you can get it, what to do to defend yourself against the power of others and, most importantly, how to use it well and keep it. Read in: 4 minutes. Favorite quote from the author: Table of Contents. Video Summary.

  22. Book review: The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

    The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. For leaders looking to climb the corporate ladder and gain influence within their organisation, The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene offers strategic lessons drawn from examining how power has been cultivated and wielded throughout history. The book distills centuries of observations on mastering the art ...

  23. دانلود کتاب "48 قانون قدرت" (The 48 Laws of Power)

    Introducing the book 48 laws of power. The 48 Laws of Power book, written in 1998, is one of the best-selling success and motivational books around the world. ... Review of the book 48 laws of power. By reading the book 48 Laws of Power, we get a general and comprehensive understanding of how to become powerful and progress in life. With a ...

  24. The 48 Laws of Power: Robert Greene: 9781665182768: Amazon.com: Books

    Robert Greene. Robert Greene is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, and The 50th Law. His highly anticipated fifth book, Mastery, examines the lives of great historical figures such as Charles Darwin, Mozart, Paul Graham and Henry Ford and distills the traits and ...