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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 July 12, 2004 something for nothing.
Yes, it is possible to achieve financial success and political power using the laws in this book, but at what cost? I have read extensively on the principles that successful, powerful people both past and present have used to access power. The greatest people of all time have realized that unlike what Mr. Greene suggests, real, sustainable power comes from within--it cannot be had be had through the manipulation of external conditions, i.e. effects not causes. The most powerful people (some who used their power for good, others for not so good), accessed the power we all have WITHIN us.
My analysis has demonstrated to me that the only people who are able to become very powerful in business, politics and socially and yet still have excellent health, great relationships and above all PEACE OF MIND, accessed the power within.
I believe that all those who want to rise to positions of power and authority (and enjoy the associated benefits of such) yet still maintain good friendships, good marriages, have good health and peace of mind, should spend more time accessing the power within because this is the only power than enables one to "have it all".
This book was good because it enables those who live by certain ethical principles to identify and protect themselves against those ideas that are discussed (and very likely used) by many readers of this book.
I would recommend reading Joseph Murphy's book Power of The Subconscious Mind for a better understanding of the true source of power.
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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 4, 2004
In our world of political correctness and appearances, where society is depicted as fair, democratic, at times altruistic and transparent, the reality of the situation is far different. And as Greene proposes, no one wants to be seen as power hungry, and those that do, are generally scorned. Power is a game. And to play this game successfully, duplicity is the key: to win power, we must, on the surface, at least appear to be fair, altruistic and transparent, however we must scheme, manipulate, deceive, charm and seduce, if we are to get what we achieve power, as Napoleon suggested, we should use an iron fist with a velvet glove, smiling as we stab our opponents in the back. Attaining power is war, though according to Greene, a civilized war.
Any person with an essential good nature should find this book a little disturbing. The message from Greene is clear - living the virtuous life is the road to failure and powerlessness. Appealing to the better angels of our natures is a lost cause and will get us nowhere but the bottom of the food chain. In other words, "nice guys finish last." The only way to the top is through treachery, seduction, observing others' weaknesses to then play on those weaknesses to your advantage. Greene's advice is basically a negative strategy to power and success. And to be sure, there are other positive strategies out there to attain power and success without resorting to deception and covert manipulation. But none are presented here.
That said, understanding the 48 laws presented here, at least will make us aware of the depths some people will go to in order to get what they desire. In this regard, this text is worth the time, energy and money.
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on December 23, 2013
Once again, I listened to the book on my Android phone and after many hours of meditation, I’m still not sure whether the author wanted us to absorb his message literally or if he was highlighting the absurd.

Mr. Greene tries to teach us how to obtain power by cunning, manipulation and lying. He states his 48 laws of power and then uses historical examples to show a “transgression of the law” and an “observance of the law.” The historic examples are taken from three thousand years of history from leaders of ancient China and Greece to our present days. Many of the stated laws are distilled from the teachings of well known philosophers such as Machiavelli, Sun-tzu and a few others.

I belief that Mr. Green purposely showed the most shrewd ways to gain power and ignored the many ways that people can obtain power by honesty, by giving, by showing gratitude and by serving others; the bookstores are already full of those books. Mr. Green found a fantastic way to differentiate himself in a crowded market.

It is my believe that obtaining power by deceit and cunning is way more difficult than obtaining power by honesty and by a desire to help others. At a given moment, the mask becomes too heavy to carry and if you manage to carry it all the time, you obtain power by giving up your true self. It is not different from the professional who becomes rich by working so many hours that he never gets to enjoy his wealth. Is it worth it?

All that being said some laws make perfect sense:

“5. So Much Depends on Reputation – Guard it with your Life.” This is my own interpretation of the law: You might be loyal to your spouse all you life, but it only takes one incident of infidelity in order to destroy your reputation as a faithful spouse.

“9. Win through your actions, never through argument.” This one is self evident, every action that we take speaks louder than words.

Some of the laws totally disgusted me. Here are two examples.

“7. Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit.” This law it way too common in the corporate and politics world. Sure, this law helps us obtain power, but do we feel good about ourselves?

“14. Pose as a friend, work as a spy.” People pose as your friend just to find out what you are doing, how they can take advantage of you and how they can betray you when the time is right. This is what Mr. Greene teaches us to do.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. The writing is delicious and I recommend it even if I don’t agree with most of the content. The book is entertaining and a great history lesson.
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on March 12, 2003
This must have been my most disappointing buy of these last few years. Greene's techniques are all focussed on using people's weaknesses, on creating confusion and being selective with the truth (lying). I find his approach negative and the book depressing. To create win-win situations and be a lasting leader, better read 'Getting to Yes' by Roger Fisher and William Ury. Follow Greene's advice and you might be in power but not admired and with very few friends...
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on March 15, 2004
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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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 May 7, 2001
This is an interesting subject and the book is well written, however If You buy this book and follow the principles You have bought Yourself a manual in how to cause Yourself grief and unhappines. I bought this book some years back when it was first published because I was interested in the subject, and stumbled across it just recently - Like other self-help books, often used by Sales Men, manipulation is seen as something good, and although it might bring You some short term success(of course depending of what You see as success), this is a house built on sand, it won't last long before (as another reviewer has stated), You will be despised and treated as a pariah, because people will see through You and recognize that Your presence is pure malicious self interest, creating the opposite effect of Your desires. The author apparently thinks that the world is surrounded by enemies that are out to get You, adhere to his laws and who knows, that is probably what You will experience(and rightly so). If You follow the instructions issued in many self help books and don't behave in a normal way, people will view You with suspicion and distrust, so often what You read in such books, (Dale Carnegie springs to mind here), if not most of the times are recipies for interpersonal failure. If You want to read something that is useful to learn You to get along better with Yourself and others, I would recommend Daniel Goleman's 'Emotional Intelligence'
Like the case of Pandora's Box, this warning is well intentioned. If You know what this book can lead to, this is not something You would want to investigate,
As the Kirkus review states, this is a silly distateful book, and I am going to throw it out, - I would be embarrassed if anybody knew that I would read something like that
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on September 16, 1999
I do give Greene and Elffers credit for their recollection of historical figures and events. What he usually failed to note was that pride led to the essential downfalls of the empires and tycoons i.e. Napoleon, Caesar, etc. While there is a lot of truth of what they said, I found that Greene and Elffers manipulated the data of the historical events and forced these events to fit their "laws". Also the laws contradicted themselves ex: Law 34 "Be Royal In your Own Fashion: Act Like a King To Be Treated Like A King: Be Royal In Your Own Fasion" and Law 46 "Never Appear Too Perfect". This is one of many "pulls" in contradicting directions that this book has. No doubt that there are coniving people in business, but "jumping" in their game neither commands respect or will get you ahead. When dishing out power tactics as Greene condones remember with manipulative practices: "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" what comes around goes around and tactless, manipulative actions may grant short-term gratification, but remember "the higher up you climb the further and harder the fall when one of Greenes Laws comes back and bites you in the A$$". I don't recommend this book and it shocked me that people actually stoop to these tactics. If this is the way to success, maybe you should question if you want "power". With publications like this don't be surprised with instances like Columbine HS in Col., or the Atlanta Shootings happen because according to Greene's philosophy it would be "Fair game" probabally these work shootings in the US someone was the blunt of one of these laws. I recommend reading Dale Carnegie, or Frank Betger, Joe Girard, Lou Holtz, or Rick Pitino for Motivatioanl books. These men have true "power" and real success what qualifications do Greene and Elffers have anyway to back the success of these laws in their own accomplishments anyway? They can only use historical events shaped like they want them to be. Don't read!
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