- Paperback: 452 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; 1st edition (September 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140280197
- ISBN-13: 978-0140280197
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,702 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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The world is full of people, all of us filled with desires, dreams, wants, needs, jealousy and a sometimes uncontrollable drive to secure, for ourselves, all that we deem necessary to feel safe and in control. Everyone wants to win. Everyone wants that house on the hill, enough of everything they need and even more of everything they want. After desire is met, many of us also want to give to those who have less.
Most of us begin with the best of intentions, some get lost along the way. Deceit, treachery and ruthlessness emerge as the competition heats up. All bets are off, morality becomes optional and the ends justify the means.
The 48 Laws of Power is what you get if The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli and The SocioPath Next Door by Martha Stout were merged into one. It is the other teams playbook - the schemes, the thoughts, the reasoning, the strategy and, most importantly, the mindset of those who strive to get ahead by stepping on you and me.
In football, teams spend countless hours studying their opponent, understanding what they do in various situations, their tendencies, weaknesses, strengths and character. The more they know about them the better they are able to prepare. It enables them to create game plans, plays, personnel changes and play calling specifically targeted at the other teams weaknesses. They build an offense that is fully prepared to counter everything the other team might present. If the other teams plays dirty, is overly aggressive, has a particular strength that seems unbeatable, a good game plan can provide the slightest of edges that can end in victory.
This is also true in life and in work. Especially work. It is in business that we all start at the bottom and stare up the funnel - the positions are fewer as we rise, while the benefits, salary and prestige increase - and we feel pitted against our peers in gaining a coveted position at the next level.
Some of us can take this competition in stride. We believe that doing our best will merit promotion. That our talent alone should speak for or worthiness of advancement. Honest competition, you against me, and let the best win.
Others believe in adding an additional element to the mix. They believe that talent will get you only so far. They believe that they must prevent you from doing your best in order to win the day - that their best is not good enough or does not provide the sense of certainty they desire. They want to crush the "enemy" and secure what is "theirs."
We have all worked with these people. We all know these people. They often live among us, invisible to the naked eye, revealed only when the battle is on, when they turn their backs or leave us out in the cold when we need them most.
I learned about these people in college in a Political Science Seminar populated by some very ambitious Pre-Law students and assorted other scoundrels. This was a great class, great teacher, great discussions and a wonderful rapport among the students. My eyes were opened near the end of the semester. This particular teacher had a rule of only giving out a set number of A's and B's, the rest of the class would receive C's or lower. The instructor pitted us against each other, we would be graded based on the rubric he provided and in comparison to our classmates. He would rank our papers and distribute grades accordingly. For a group of kids looking to get into law school the possibility of getting a C was unbearable. Then the fit hit the shan!
We were to write an extensive research paper using original source documents and primary resources. The limited number of materials available in our library suddenly began to "disappear." Promised rides to other library's vanished. It was a feeding frenzy, every one worked alone, kept to themselves, trusted np one and looked over their shoulder at all times.
It was ugly!
As a simple kid from a small town, I was heart broken. I had never witnessed that level of mean, self-serving behavior before. I reacted with hurt, anger, disillusionment and animosity toward the teacher and my peers.
While I still don't like the method, reading The 48 Laws of Power has helped me understand what was going on and why. People are complicated. When we get pushed against the wall, when we feel that our ability to thrive is being threatened or see our desires within our reach, we sometimes resort to behaviors we would never consider at any other time. We do things that we look back on with tremendous remorse, regret and confusion. "How could I have done that!"
But we cannot control what others will or won't do. What get's us in trouble, turns us into victims, is when we assume others are using the same playbook we are. In thinking they share our values, ethics, morality and sense of obligation to be a good person. When we do this we become somebody's prey. We need a good defense. We need to understand that there are people out there waiting to prey upon our trust and vulnerability.
There are also those with weak character who will fail us when we need them most. It is not their intention, they are simply unclear on their values and make decision out of fear.
So, I recommend reading The 48 Laws of Power. I do not suggest that it be used as a guide for conducting your business or relationships. The historical events and persons described in the book are some of the most shameless and heartless people to have ever lived. These are the bad people. This book teaches you how they think, how low they will go (lower than you can conceive) and helps you be aware of the evil that lurks in the hearts of us all. Like the football team it helps us create a game plan for our lives that is driven by our values, seeks the best in people, but is also vigilant in defending against the worst.
First, to understand the 48 laws of power, you must know two key ideas
1. you CAN NOT escape the power game. thinking you can "not participate" is as foolish as thinking that you could somehow escape gravity or make the sun stand still. Robert Greene explains why in the intro with some excellent examples
2. the 48 laws of power are neither good nor evil; they are just LAWS. If someone pushed a man off a cliff would you blame gravity for for his demise? This is the mindset you must adopt in order to learn a lot from this book.
Things I Liked
- NEW PARADIGM
after reading the 48 laws, you will never see the world the same way again. once you understand some of these laws you will see many underlying currents and motives you did not see before.
- INCREASES POWER
one of the main reasons to buy the book. you wil become exponentially more powerfull by knowing and understanding these laws
every law is clearly outlined with "transgression" of the law, "observance" of the law, keys to power, and a "reversal"
the 48 laws are packed with mindblowing and sometimes humorous stories of people in history practicing these laws. this is helpful as some of the concepts are quite abstract.
What I didn't like
an old proverb says " A man who plays with snakes will eventually be bitten". If you begin to use the 48 Laws improperly, you could get yourself in some dangerous situations, lose friends, piss off a lot a people, and destroy relationships
- REQUIRES DISCERNMENT
if you you are looking for a highly concrete book that the says "do xyz and you will accomplish vyx" look elsewhere. the Laws require good judgement and and and prospecting nature to practice and apply
-NOT FOR EVERYONE
If you are aghast at the idea of manipulation and deceit then read with caution.
OVERALL: If you want to have more power or a better understanding of why different situations turn out the the way they do, you should definitely read the 48 laws of power by Robert Greene. If you want to be naive, easily manipulated, weak, you should ignore this book and go watch some netfilx.
Thanks for reading