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The 48 Laws of Power Paperback – September 1, 2000
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“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
“Beguiling . . . literate . . . fascinating. A wry primer for people who desperately want to be on top.”—People magazine
“An heir to Machiavelli’s Prince . . . gentler souls will find this book frightening, those whose moral compass is oriented solely to power will have a perfect vade mecum.” —Publishers Weekly
“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.”—Allure
From the Back Cover
THE BESTSELLING BOOK FOR THOSE WHO WANT POWER, WATCH POWER, OR WANT TO ARM THEMSELVES AGAINST POWER . . .
A moral, cunning, ruthless, and instructive, this piercing work distills three thousand years of the history of power into forty-eight well-explicated laws. As attention-grabbing in its design as it is in its content, this bold volume outlines the laws of power in their unvarnished essence, synthesizing the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun-tzu, Carl von Clausewitz, and other great thinkers. Some laws require prudence ("Law 1: Never Outshine the Master"), some stealth ("Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions"), and some the total absence of mercy ("Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally") but like it or not, all have applications in real-life situations. Illustrated through the tactics of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Kissinger, P. T. Barnum, and other famous figures who have wielded -- or been victimized by -- power, these laws will fascinate any reader interested in gaining, observing, or defending against ultimate control.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Well, unfortunately, wishes don't make it a reality, and there are people out there who prey on the weak and take advantage of those who are too trusting. The 48 Laws of Power (by Robert Greene) illuminates many ways that those predatory people can gain power over anyone who is not aware of the manipulation and power games they play. And while it may take some practice, study, and a keen eye for detail, anyone can learn to spot these (often subtle) power struggles and often even turn the tables on the enemy at hand!
Please, if you are considering reading this book but are 'on the fence' about it because of the people saying negative things about it, just read it! This has become one of my favorite books in a short period of time, and it has given me a new way to perceive the world around me. Robert Greene is a great author, and the way this book is formatted / written makes it educational, entertaining, and compelling, all at the same time. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to every single person in the world, because it is not for the faint of heart; but if you've ever been taken advantage of, shut out of someone's life, lost control of a situation, had someone feign authority over you (successfully), had relationship problems, problems in the workplace, etc, you deserve to give this a read-through at LEAST once. Don't take everything at face-value... and by that I mean don't decapitate anyone for "transgression" of any of the laws, but definitely think about times you have seen these laws at work, and how a grasp on a relevant law from the book could have changed the outcome of that particular scenario.
.Long story short, this is an amazing book! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! :)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is straight up evil.Read more