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on April 28, 2004
I am not earning over a million bucks a year so I might not be qualified to judge the value of the book. However, as somebody in his late thirties and always stuck in the middle of world class big corps, I can tell just knowing the laws can greatly improve your ability to defend against arrows shooting at your back.
For your easy reference, the laws are:-
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, neer 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 thumbcrew
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
I hope you wont find the above "laws" too repugnant. Anyway, this book is well written with plenty of lively and interesting examples or stories. An excellent read for both leisure and self improvement, I must say. Highly recommended.
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on August 10, 2007
This title makes you pump your fist and feel like Caeser in his prime. An alternate title could be the Devil's Guide to Success. Anyone who has ever felt tired of being manipulated and played by smooth words (and discovering it far too late), will tear through these pages. It is a clear bombshell into analyzing effective influence and deception, via lessons learned from recent to centuries past. Psychological warfare in the business world is a very real thing, and you can either uses the tools to your advantage, or get taken to the cleaners. The choice is yours, and this book will break down every facet in great detail. The author writes with good intentions, and arms you with protecting yourself from being a victim, and selectively using the skills to your advantage.
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on July 14, 2013
I skimmed over a few reviews and some people say that this book is a negative way to live ones life and that the information laid out in the book is ruthless, hurtful and destructive to those around you.

Anyone who writes a review like that is either unrealistic, too emotional or does not work with the public. This book is motivational and contains practical information on how to succeed in todays instant gratification world of double crossing, two faced co workers and a delusional general public bent on selfishness.

The one point that Robert Greene stresses is that yes in a perfect world it would be great if we could succeed through being good, noble, morally driven human beings but the sad harsh truth of life is that we encounter people who do not agree with us and will attack us for reasons we cannot even fathom.

This book using historical examples illustrates the motives behind life events that are all too close to home that the average individual might just assume were random acts off ill luck towards them.

When you actually analyze your situations and look into the motives and psychology of those around you, you will be more prepared to deal with times of conflict in the future. Of course if we could all be peace loving individuals without conflict for our entire lives and yet thrive in our careers, relationships, social circles and families then wouldn't that be great...? BUT that is not and will never be the case, everyone deals with conflict sooner or later and if you are unprepared for it you will just be dumbfounded and assume that you just have bad luck, or that the world is against you.

Buy this book, read it with a PRACTICAL and REALISTIC mindset and you will reap the benefits and maybe learn a little something. If you read this book and assess every story on emotional or moral standards then you are really missing the point. Conflict is a part of life, learn to deal with it, then benefit from it, starting with this book!
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on August 4, 2014
I think they use this everywhere! Especially at work. Surprised I survived it. I barely read this except in pieces like the Bible. I must be a natural because I have now survived a work culture like this 30 years. I must tire those manipulating people out.
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on February 17, 2004
If gaining power means using trickery, cunning and deceipt, then this book is the roadmap. In reading other reviews, I see that many are struck by the 'evil' that is obvioius in much of what Greene advocates here. He uses fascinating historical examples and quotations in support of his philosophies; like them or not, they lessons are hard to refute. It's just that they are distasteful. This is a cynical book. But there is a fine line between being cynical and realistic: this book is both. Five stars for depth, research, and an interesting take on the darker side of humanity; that doesn't mean you have to adopt it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon February 11, 2008
This book is focused predominantly on Machiavellian strategies of power. As such, it is a very interesting read. Each "law of power" is illustrated with sample stories and some of the stories may be too much for the faint of heart - they are utterly ruthless.

Power is so seductive - the effects of it like chasing, fighting for and owning the "one ring that rules them all" from Talkien's "Lord of the Rings". It seems so irresistible, so sweet, but watch out how far you go, because while setting a trap for another, you can find yourself unnoticeably getting caught in it.

There is a saying that the absolute power corrupts. That is not exactly true of the "real" power - but the "real" power is not based on fear, only the perceived power is based on fear and that is what Machiavellian power is based upon. After all his motto was that it is better to be feared than to be loved. And if you invest yourself totally in being feared, one day you just find yourself ending all alone. There is yet another and better way - but that one takes another route. It is based on higher knowledge.

I am glad that Robert Green has added the "reversals" - the way you can find this double edged sword of power stuck in your own back if you're not careful.

This book is a lovely compendium of use and abuse of power with plenty of stories drawn from history. It is nice to be aware of possible consequences when using the laws of power before you become power crazy and find yourself in a ditch. With great power comes great responsibility.

Another reviewer mentioned that there is no "how to" in this book - well, even each heading clearly points out the modus operandi, which is further illustrated through the stories.

And not all the laws in the book are devious, even thought that may seem to be the main flavor of the book. Some of the laws are good common-sense advice as in "avoid free lunch", "plan all the way", "concentrate your forces", "master the art of timing", etc.

As you read this book, I'll just like to mention a story of a man who felt rather shy and powerless and who figured that the best way out for him to feel like somebody would be if he gets other people to be afraid of him. He found a book on mind-power and sat down to practice. It didn't take long, before he was apparently wielding power and people around him felt rather anxious in his presence. Eventually they all began finding excuses for staying away from him and in the end he was all alone - no one wanted him around.

So, when you engage into experimenting with these laws of power, temper them with love and wisdom - else you may not be too happy with your creation. Machiavelli, too, ended up in exhile and all alone.
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on May 27, 2004
People seek power for many reasons - furthering their own cause, to claim a name among those around them, just as a game, whatever. That the authors have taken power seeking as a task that is discussed without touching upon whether or not you should do it shows how objective the authors have been in dealing with this topic. Thousands of areas of the universe we live in have previously been dealt with like this and have matured into sciences. Anybody wants to bring up the why's of nuclear science here?
The individual laws themselves are mostly readily apparent to anyone who gives things two seconds of thought. But the way in which they are discussed makes this book a classic. Time and again I am stupefied by books which simply take the 3000 years or so of recorded history and dig examples form them to show how we can learn from it. This book is typical of them. The examples bring out the essence of the laws very well, though, occasionally you might wonder why the authors bring up the same characters repeatedly. It doesn't really matter however, since the point is not how different people observed or transgressed the different laws of power but the observance and the transgression themselves.
One brought up to believe in the "moral" principles taught by the various religions of the world may find the laws completely "amoral". However, like quite a few examples in the book illustrate, the road to glory is always lined in red. Whatever your causes are, you need power to further them. Just like the proverbial knife that can be used to cut a finger or a cake, use the laws at your discretion.
Take a look at the 48 laws(posted in one of the other reviews or by taking a look at the book). If you can spend 2 minutes on, say, 5 randomly selected laws, figure out why the law could work and not feel guilty about applying it in your pursuits, then this book is for you. It really drives home the points by way of examples and further explaining of why the laws work.
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on March 21, 2004
First, I am buying four more copies of this book for the children I work with. They all believe they have the power to become CEO because their university degree in Engineering and 6 Sigma black belt makes it so. My disparaging and sarcastic chortles only serve to confuse and frighten them. These copies will be my "25th anniversary being a Dilbert idiot" gift. I enjoyed Robert Greene's book very much and found the pro and con fable format of the laws very interesting. This format added greatly to the depth of the explanations. The bottom line of the book - this is the way humans have been, are, and will be - here are the examples - deal with it. The 49th law should be to willingly experience the other 48 (as an instigator or target). Even if you only experience a handful you will obtain profound knowledge to help define your morals and ethics (well OK chief, what is good and evil anyway? Are we born with it?). Or, if nothing else, get a good dose of common sense. How does someone get the exposure to have the experiences? How does someone handle fire without being burned? Krikey! Believe as I did twenty some years ago that all they wanted me to do as a wet nosed, farm fresh, aerospace engineer was design and test parts. I thought I was going to work with Einstein but got Edison instead (law #7 so true). In any event Robert Greene's book has been a good, but belated, scolding for me. By not understanding (just) law #1 cost me one job in my career and significant personal grief - with no long term value or benefit. Your brain is wired up to make you act human - Mr. Greene's book is appendix A to the instruction manual. Anyway, the three laws of thermodynamics - well there's laws for yah smarty.
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on March 15, 2004
I absolutely love this book! I first picked it up when I started a new job about a year ago in corporate america( I was coming from a government job). I wasn't trying to gain power but moreso understand the powers that be and how they worked. This book gave me so much insight into how to play the politics game in corp. america (and there is a game being played there). I now understand what to say, when to say it and how to behave to accomplish goals that I may not have otherwise accomplished. My favorite rule is #1- "never outshine the master". This rule is so true;I find myself employing it almost daily and somehow still achieving the result that I want. This book even helps in dating b/c it shows you when you need to wait or when to pull back.
Some say that this and Greene's other book The Art of Seduction are "evil" and "malicious". I suppose they could be looked at that way. However, I think we also have to realize that others know how to instinctively weave their web around us unbeknownst to us. And because of that it behooves one to at least read these books and understand how NOT to be caught up in someone else's powerful and seductive web.
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on February 4, 2004
This classic review of classic political manuals is as relevant today as it ever was. Those concerned by the applicability of the historical examples provided miss an essential point: the will to power is in human nature, and human nature hasn't changed, regardless of claims to the contrary by our enlightened rulers. After reading The 48 Laws of Power, I realized that it is in the interest of power brokers to keep us in this state of inocence.
These rules cannot be applied inflexibly in all situations. In fact, most of the chapters have a reversal of the law section, to remind us that context is crucial. This will not be a problem for power seekers who stay alert, looks both to the past and the future, have perfect self control and patience, as recommended by the author. Simplistic hard and fast rules have no place here.
The book is beautifully laid out and edited. Just a minor quip: Baltasar Gracian is the most quoted author yet his books don't make it to the recommended reading list.
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