Book Review “48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene

There are many definitions on power, depending from whom and for what purpose it is used. I’ll focus on power as the ability to control and influence others, because I believe that this is the power everyone wants to have silently or out-loudly. I believe that asking for power is very essentially human, but one must not forget that power is like drug: the more you get the more you will want to have.

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Greene wrote the 48 Laws of Power on 1998 and since then only in America it has sold more than 1,2 million copies and the book was translated in 24 languages so far. It has incredible historic examples that portray man’s journey through history. With many illustrated stories and anecdotes from Chinese warlords, Roman and Italian powerful-leaders, American conmen, French stories and more the book is similar to Machiavelli’s ‘The prince’. Although the book did not escape from harsh criticism the book is worth reading. The book for me was shockingly frank. The truth is not always beautiful so inside the book you will feel the impolite and vulgar tone of writing, that’s why many people call it shameful and unethical but honestly I believe this is the world we live it, we are part of this world and it’s up to us if we want to go with the wind, stand and watch or fight against it.

Mastering the game of power requires knowledge, experience and lots of practice, and as such it takes lots of time and effort. One of the main rules in the game is emotional intelligence, this is the greater barrier to power, but once you master it, it becomes you strongest army.

I really suggest you to read the book, if not for ‘gaining’ power and using it against other, than at least for being aware of ways that people use to manipulate you. Most of the laws covered in this book can be used for great evil of for great good. It depends to you as a reader, but as Johann von Goethe implied those you say they have never used any of these laws are either being hypocritical or lying. But if you didn’t read the book I truly suggest you to take some time and read it, you will be amaze by the “reality”. Put your favorite passages somewhere when you can them every day and use them, because if you don’t some else will play the game on you.

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For your information the books has 48 chapters, respectively one chapter explain per law. For you easy reference, here’s the list of 48 laws on power:

  1. Never outshine the master
  2. Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use enemies
  3. Conceal your intentions
  4. Always say less than necessary
  5. So much depends on reputation – guard it with your life
  6. Court attention at all cost
  7. Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit
  8. Make other people come to use – use bait if necessary
  9. Win thru your actions, near thru argument
  10. Infection: Avoid the unhappy and unlucky
  11. Learn to keep people dependent on you
  12. Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim
  13. When asking for help, appeal to people’s self-interest, never to their mercy or gratitude
  14. Pose as a friend, work as a spy
  15. Crush your enemy totally
  16. Use absence to increase respect and honor
  17. Keep others in suspended terror: cultivate an air of unpredictability
  18. Do not build fortresses to protect yourself – isolation is dangerous
  19. Know who you are dealing with – do not offend the wrong person
  20. Do not commit to anyone
  21. Play a sucker to catch a sucker – seem dumber than your mark
  22. Use the surrender tactic: transform weakness into power
  23. Concentrate your forces
  24. Play the perfect courtier
  25. Re-create yourself
  26. Keep your hands clean
  27. Play on people’s need to believe to create cultlike following
  28. Enter action with boldness
  29. Plan all the way to the end
  30. Make your accomplishments seem effortless
  31. Control the options: get others to play with the cards you deal
  32. Play to people’s fantasies
  33. Discover each man’s thumbscrew
  34. Be royal in your own fashion; act like a king to be treated like one
  35. Master the art of timing
  36. Disdain things you cannot have: ignoring them is the best revenge
  37. Create compelling spectacles
  38. Think as you like but behave like others
  39. Stir up waters to catch fish
  40. Despise the free lunch
  41. Avoid stepping into a great man’s shoes
  42. Strike the shepherd and the sheep with scatter
  43. Work on the hearts and minds of others
  44. Disarm and infuriate with the mirror effect
  45. Preach the need for change, but never reform too much at once
  46. Never appear too perfect
  47. Do not go past the mark you aimed for: in victory, learn when to stop
  48. Assume formlessness
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