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1,159 of 1,219 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read in spirit of the "Screwtape Letters"
In one's life, you're better off following the teachings of Moses, Jesus, or Buddha to gain long-term happiness. But the sad fact is, many people live by a very different set of rules, and while most of these folks eventually self-destruct, they can inflict severe damage on our personal and professional lives in the process.
48 Rules of Power is a good primer for...
Published on March 15, 2004 by Buck Rogers

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1,270 of 1,400 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but not all that good either
This book is well-written and very nicely designed. Beyond that, it's hard to see what the fuss is about.

First of all, and on the one hand, the book isn't the torrent of Machiavellian amorality you may have been led to believe. The author does go out of his way to make it _sound_ as though he's presenting you with sophisticated, in-the-know,...
Published on September 4, 2001 by John S. Ryan


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1,159 of 1,219 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read in spirit of the "Screwtape Letters", March 15, 2004
By 
Buck Rogers (Framingham, MA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The 48 Laws of Power (Paperback)
In one's life, you're better off following the teachings of Moses, Jesus, or Buddha to gain long-term happiness. But the sad fact is, many people live by a very different set of rules, and while most of these folks eventually self-destruct, they can inflict severe damage on our personal and professional lives in the process.
48 Rules of Power is a good primer for learning how these people think. I've spotted a number of similar books in the Business section (like "Career Warfare" and classics like the "Art of War") of my local bookseller, but none put things quite as succinctly as this one. In today's predatory work culture, with good jobs (read: jobs that let you own a home and pay all the bills month to month with a little left over) becoming harder and harder to find, you almost certainly will be the target of these techniques at some point. A friend once made an innocent and extraordinarily minor faux pas at an office Christmas party, and had a homicidal CEO attempt to destroy his future using methods as varied as slander and identity theft, all done through middle manager proxies to keep his own hands clean. You need to read books like these to know how too many people at the top think. But don't live out some of these rules in real life (e.g., crush your enemy completely) - there'll always be someone who does it better, and you will get crushed. Martha Stewart got hers, so don't think you're going to smash people and live to tell the tale. Reality simply doesn't work that way - and even if you survive professionally, the spiritual rot and personal decay will leave you an isolated, paranoid wreck. Read this book in the spirit of C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters, in which a master demon gives advice to a protege on how to destroy mortals. Learn how to spot people who live like this - and then stay very, very far away. Jesus said, "Be wise as serpents but innocent as doves." This book, read in the right spirit, will help you with both.
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202 of 215 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars People...Grow Up, July 3, 2001
By 
Tom (Smithfield, VA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The 48 Laws of Power (Paperback)
I have read the many reviews that criticize the 48 Laws as "Not Practical", "Dangerous" and "Shameless". What planet are you people from. I went to night school to get a college degree, I have followed my fathers advise and worked an honest days labor. I came in early and stayed late to get the job done. I have recieved great reviews and many promises of money and promotion. All for little. I noticed my peers, who were not as dedicated as I by their own admission, careers were moving along at the same pace as mine or faster. When I had enough, I began to talk to managers that I trusted and employees who have had success in career advancement. Guess what, their comments and advice were very similiar to many of the laws in this book.
This book is very "Practical" and, while I admit, practicing many of these laws would be "Dangerous" and "Shameless" to ignore that they are present in our every day lives is delusional.
It does not matter if you want to play the game or not, you are in it. You don't have to take a sword with you but for heavens sake at lest wear some armor. This book is that armor, to understand the 48 laws allows you to see the oppertunity/danger before it is to late. NO, I WILL NOT HURT PEOPLE FOR GAIN but I will no longer be used if I can help it.
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321 of 348 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Black/White/Gray, August 15, 2001
By 
"kaia_espina" (Quezon City, Philippines) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The 48 Laws of Power (Paperback)
When it comes to morality and ethics, people are used to thinking in terms of black and white. Conversely, "The 48 Laws of Power" deals primarily with the gray areas. At the risk of sounding melodramatic and trite, I say that most of the Laws covered in this book can be used for great evil or for great good. It depends on the reader. There is really nothing wrong with most of the Laws per se.
Each Law comes with true stories from history about those who successfully observed it and those who foolishly or naively trangressed it. Robert Greene has an interpretation for each story. Though each Law is self-explanatory, Greene's explanations are not padding, fluff or stuffing to make the book longer. They actually give greater clarification and depth. Greene's insight even extends to crucial warnings about how the Laws could backfire.
There are two reasons to read this book:
1. For attack: To gain power, as have others who have carefully observed the Laws;
2. For defense: To be aware of ways that people may be trying to manipulate you.
As Johann von Goethe said (as quoted in "The 48 Laws of Power", of course): "The only means to gain one's ends with people are force and cunning. Love also, they say, but that is to wait for sunshine, and life needs every moment."
Those who say they have never used any of these laws are either being hypocritical--or lying.
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1,270 of 1,400 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but not all that good either, September 4, 2001
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This review is from: The 48 Laws of Power (Paperback)
This book is well-written and very nicely designed. Beyond that, it's hard to see what the fuss is about.

First of all, and on the one hand, the book isn't the torrent of Machiavellian amorality you may have been led to believe. The author does go out of his way to make it _sound_ as though he's presenting you with sophisticated, in-the-know, just-between-us-hardheaded-realists amoral guidance. But as a matter of fact almost every bit of this advice _could_ have been presented without offense to the most traditional of morality.

(For example, the law about letting other people do the work while you take the credit is made to sound worse than it really is. Sure, it admits of a "low" interpretation. But it's also, read slightly differently, a pretty apt description of what any good manager does.)

Second, and on the other hand, the advice isn't _that_ good; it's merely well-presented. How it works will depend on who follows it; as the old Chinese proverb has it, when the wrong person does the right thing, it's the wrong thing.

And that's why I have to deduct some stars from the book. For it seems to be designed to appeal precisely to the "wrong people."

Despite some sound advice, this book is aimed not at those who (like Socrates) share the power of reason with the gods, but at those who (like Ulysses) share it with the foxes. It seeks not to make you reasonable but to make you canny and cunning. And as a result, even when it advises you to do things that really do work out best for all concerned, it promotes an unhealthy sense that your best interests are at odds with nearly everyone else's. (And that the only reason for being helpful to other people is that it will advance your own cloak-and-dagger "career.")

No matter how helpful some of the advice may be, it's hard to get around the book's rather pompous conceit that the reader is learning the perennial secrets of crafty courtiers everywhere. Even if only by its tone, this volume will tend to turn the reader into a lean and hungry Cassius rather than a confident and competent Caesar.

In general the book does have some useful things to say about power and how to acquire and wield it. Unfortunately its approach will probably render the advice useless to the people who need it most. Readers who come to it for guidance will come away from it pretentiously self-absorbed if not downright narcissistic; the readers who can see through its Machiavellian posturing and recognize it for what it is will be the very readers who didn't need it in the first place.

Recommended only to readers who _aren't_ unhealthily fascinated by Sun-Tzu, Balthasar Gracian, and Michael Korda.
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123 of 134 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The soul you sell may be your own! Lessons learned., April 13, 2000
By 
V. Serrie (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 48 Laws of Power (Hardcover)
The book is well written, engaging in concept, and it gets its points across well. It is also very useful and practical. It is, of course, also quite evil. The very essense of it in fact. Please understand that I don't usually speak in such black and white terms, or religious terms, but this book struck me as that - pure evil. Despite it's title, however, it is not really about true power. True power is about leadership, vision, and conviction. This is merely about the immoral and unethical tricks, manipulations and deceptions that some people use to work themselves into positions of influence and authority over others. Since these people and their tactics certainly exist however, this book is an excellent guide to tell you exactly what to look for in others and so help you plan your defenses. Some of the laws are common sense and relatively harmless (like law 1 - never outshine the master, or another: do not show your weaknesses, keep your mystery) but some are ruthless, unethical, immoral and I could never follow them (like - having others do your work for you and then taking credit for their work, or: targeting weaker people as demonstrations for your power by setting them up for public attack, etc.) Even if you do not plan to use the techniques yourself, it is good to know about them. It is useful to be able to form an effective defense against them for when they do come up in life. Add to this the fact that the book is entertaining to read, and you have a worthwhile purchase. Like looking at the opposite team's playbook.
More knowledge is good I think. I feel somewhat wiser for having read it.
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78 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE 48 LAWS OF POWER: YOUR THINKING WILL NEVER REMAIN THE SAME, November 1, 2005
This review is from: The 48 Laws of Power (Paperback)
Read this book and your thinking will never remain the same. Drawing upon historic examples that portray man's journey through the ages as one long, unending quest to dominate his fellows, The 48 Laws of Power reads somewhat like a much expanded version of Machiavelli's The prince. Yet it carries a lot of its own originality - on many levels. One interesting, innovative feature of this book can be found in the numerous illustrations and anecdotes appearing along the page margins that the writer uses to buttress his points. Quite educative, they provided me an easy opportunity to browse through and be acquainted with fascinating classic literature from Aesop's Fables down to Sun Tzu's The Art of war.

Can we refer to the 48 Laws as success literature? Some of Robert Greene's advice seems innocent enough: Never outshine the master; win through your actions, never through argument; concentrate your forces; enter action with boldness. These are tips you would find in any self-help book that should put anyone on a stronger footing in the workplace with their boss, with colleagues, or even within the curious context of a romantic relationship.

But there is a darker, more sinister side to the 48 Laws, a side that appears to be responsible for all the notoriety that surrounds this book. There are laws which, seeming to controvert themselves in some instances, advocate underhandedness and the practice of outright evil in the pursuit of one's ambitions. Reading The 48 Laws awakens a moral conflict within us and presents two philosophies that attend the attainment of power - one inspired by goodness and the other governed by guile. But I think it all depends on the kind of success you seek. To those that would stoop to guile I would point out that Robert Greene has neglected to include what perhaps might have been the first law: All that goes around comes around; you reap what you sow.

On the other hand, some of these laws that appear to advocate evil - taken in the right context, they shed their malicious intent and turn out to be very helpful, well-meaning principles. For instance, I agree with the thought `So much depends on your reputation - guard it with you life'. But I think my reputation rests, more than anything, on my character and commitment to whatever I do, and it is along these lines I will seek to guard it. Also, when I think of `Make other people come to you - use bait if necessary', I tend to see it in the light of the principle that pronounces: The kind of person you are, to a large extent, determines the kind of people you will attract into your life. So I go about developing my `bait' - myself - in the best way I can. Fishing, as opposed to hunting, one success writer calls it.

An anecdote which fascinated me and which I kept returning to was one about Cosimo de Medici, the 15th Century Florentine banking magnate, who rode a mule instead of a horse and decidedly deferred to city officials, but effectively controlled government policy in Florence for decades. He spent a lot of his own funds on grandiose development projects across the city but preferred to live in a nondescript villa, and when he died asked to be buried in a simple tomb devoid of lavish ornamentation. Robert Greene uses Cosimo's example to illustrate a concept that is profound as it is though-provoking: the REALITY of power is much more important than the appearance of it. Unfortunately, most people tend to see it the other way.

On the whole, the 48 Laws awaken one to the on-going struggle for domination and control even in the most mundane transactions between humans. They insist that power is a reality, whether we like it or not. They impress upon us the thinking that, to survive in today's world, one has to become a man or woman of the world - at least, if not in one's actions, in one's awareness. For me, the 48 laws show one how to discern power-bids in relationships, how to read between the lines and scour the fine-print; how to recognize various inter-personal issues at stake in business and the workplace, navigating with panache and perceptiveness. They show one how to be `peaceful as a dove but wise as a serpent', how to `see the tricks coming', as another reviewer put it. Indeed, the 48 Laws seek to banish our innocence. And you'll agree...innocence, many times, can be a painful thing.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Develop a God Complex!, October 3, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: 48 Laws of Power (Hardcover)
If taken as doctrine and systematically adopted, this book could alienate you from your friends, peers, and family. (Although your superiors may elevate you to the heights of power.) Read in conjunctiuon with a little Ayn Rand, you may never look at people the same way.
Sociopathic concerns aside, the book reads like a poetic argument. Examples, parables and folk tales give historical justification for even the most viscious tendencies. The 48 Laws themselves are insightful, although - like any argument - one sided.
I give the book the highest rating possible, as it offers some truly valuable insight. Having graduated college with a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, I wish I'd read it earlier. It provides an excellent framework for the analysis of (ambitious) human interactions.
One must (hopefully) disagree with the author from the outset that what sets humans above all others is our ability to deceive, and what separates humans from each other is their ability in doing so. Read the book with that in mind, and you'll come out a better person.
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Defense, October 23, 2003
This review is from: The 48 Laws of Power (Paperback)
In some sense this book offended me. It is cold and ruthless and the opposite of an aloha spirit. However, it also prepared me. I am in business internationally and you meet a lot of sharks. It is important to understand the offensive mindset to fabricate a defense when needed. I just finished my second reading of the book and plan to read it yearly.
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating, Yet Dangerous Book, May 25, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: 48 Laws of Power (Hardcover)
This is one of the best books that I have ever read. Unfortunately it is also one that can easily be misunderstood or misused. First let me say what the book is. The book is a guide to amoral methods of gaining power. It gives 48 different "laws" to use to accomplish that. The 1st misunderstanding of the book is purely the fault of the authors. "Laws" is very misleading in this case. "Strategies" works much better, but isn't quite as marketable. Anyone who tries to follow all 48 laws simultaneously all the time will be sorely dissapointed. The book will not make you an expert power player. Yes, the book does contradict itself, but in real life different strategies are needed in different situations. It's still up to you which ones to use. This brings me to the next point. Yes, the book is a distillation of many great masters of power. And, as with any distillation, the end result is not as good. But the simple fact is that the great masters are fairly difficult and boring to take straight. The book is best used almost as a primer course. It makes reading the actual texts by Machiavelli and Sun Tzu much easier. Next, the book does not advocate the use of these ideas. It does not say "Here, everyone should do this." In fact, in expressly says that these laws are not right for everyone. Those who morals tell them not to act this way, shouldn't. The book is a study of strategies for gaining power which have worked for those in the past. The book also does not advocate any particular use for power. It does not say that one should gain power for its own sake, or that one should gain power to help others. It just says that if you want to have power, here are some ways to do it. It's up to you how to use the power. The cold, hard truth is that the methods described in the book do work. Every major wielder of power in history has used some of the rules to get that power. Gandhi was a master of the use of power - Law 6 "Court Attention At All Costs", Law 8 "Make Other's Come To You", Law 9 "Win Through Your Actions", Law 16 "Use Absence to Increase Respect." These were all methods used by Gandhi to take power from the British. The most important law in my opinion is Law 19, "Know Who You're Dealing With, Do Not Offend the Wrong Person." The person who does not treat the methods in hear with the proper respect and uses them rashly will violate this law over and over. The wise reader, however, will take Law 19 to heart and learn when to and when not to use the strategies, The laws themselves are neither moral nor immoral. How they are used defines their morality. I found the book to be a wealth of ideas and examples of what works and what doesn't work. The immorality of many of the laws is balanced by the fact that the more immoral your course of action seems, the more likely you are to violate Law 19. I recomend this book on many levels. It is a fascinating study of power, and the historical examples they use are equally interesting. I would have read it for that alone. On a larger scale it is a guidebook for those who feel that they are capable of gaining power, for whatever purporse, and are also prepared to accept the risk of failure and the pain that comes with it.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not "how to". Shows our Sore Spot, January 13, 2001
By 
This review is from: The 48 Laws of Power (Paperback)
The most interesting thing about this book is not the book itself, but the reactions it excites. It has drawn an incredible number of reviewers, many of whom are very critical and emotional about it. Our culture has a sore spot where power is concerned, and this is a good illumination of it. As others have noted, the various laws are contradictory and inconsistent. The book openly admits this, by giving examples of "reversal". It would be nice if the book openly proclaimed that power and politics are all situational--And in fact this point is made in the book. But it probably wouldn't look enticing to potential buyers if they put it on the cover! The book does have some fascinating accounts of past experiences in it, and is interesting to read on that basis. I'm even willing to agree that carefully reading all these accounts of power-grabbing will probably help an avid powermonger become more aware of the dynamics of different situations. But it isn't going to make you into a Kennedyesque figure in and of itself (thank goodness!). The book is beautifully designed and laid out.
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The 48 Laws of Power
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (Paperback - September 1, 2000)
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