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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 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 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 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 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 January 25, 1999
Greene does a good job at making a compelling case for his argument...that it's a dog-eat-dog world and you've got to be coniving to make it. However, in order to accept his assertions you must subscribe to a worldview that is very shallow indeed. There is more to life than what Greene evidently sees, and to limit yourself to a paranoid existence based on works like this is saddening and pathetic. To a limited number of people out there, this book will be a manual of manipulation. To say that you need a book like this to guard yourself against this element is misguided. Trust in yourself, and trust in goodness. Those who follow the 48 Laws of Power may actually taste power for a brief instant, but their time on this earth will be a lonely, paranoid, miserable fight. What goes around comes around. This world is what you perceive it to be. Don't let books like this distract you from what great wonders our lives are.
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on May 20, 1999
If you're reading this and haven't bought the book, then you did yourself one huge favor. Here's why. The book gives examples of how certain con artists and swindlers act, and the book seems to suggest we follow their ways if we want to have power. And though they quote from respected books like Sun Tzu's The Art of War, they foul it up by taking certain passages out of context, not to mention fouling it up by having contradictory "laws." In summary, the "laws" support selfishness, trickery, and dishonesty. If one thinks that's power or that's reality, that person is sadly mistaken. Even Sun Tzu teaches humaneness and to avoid war or conflict if possilble, at the same time teaches strategy and thus winning. This book provides neither wisdom nor insight into winning.
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on May 27, 2002
This book will create more animosity and suspicion.
After all we have come a long way from from being sycophantic medeival courtiers, or atleast we were suppose to. In any case reverting to medeival ways when people were executed for one wrong statement would be to reverse the ideas of freedom and democracy, the very principle on which modernity is established.
Greene would do well to title his book--- "Handbook of power for the Medeival Statesman". This book should be read as an analysis of pre-mordern diplomacy. A historical book without much relevance to day-to-day life. If many readers find much wisdom in practical matters from this book then it only goes to show that modernity has failed.
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