One of my favorite critically acclaimed books is The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. This book has been much talked about throughout the years. Rappers and athletes alike have all spoken of this book as if it’s a holy grail. Well first off the title is extremely interesting and grabs you right away. There’s not a human being alive that doesn’t want to attain some kind of power, so you’ll be driven to read it for your own selfish and vain reasons. The common misconception of this book is that it’s a how-to-guide, it is far from it and while I think that the laws that the book states are true, it’s your intelligence that has to come in to figure how to apply these laws.
The concept of this work is that we now live in a day and age where we have to appear decent and honest and can’t make overt power moves to get what we want. It’s much like that of the old aristocratic court where in order to gain favor deception, manipulation, and thinking several moves ahead was the name of the game. While you may think that the fact that you have to do engage in these kind of actions is awful, Greene explains that the people who champion honesty, decency, and morals the most are usually the most deceptive. Basically everyone has an agenda and we are all playing a constant power game everyday, and if you decide to opt out you will be crushed by others that are not so foolish. Many individuals engage in these kind of tactics innately, think about the actions a child takes to get what he or she wants. They may cry or make cute faces because they know they can get an emotional response out of you that’ll endear to their favor. Or you could think about females for example and the games they play during relationships. Of course everyone acts oblivious to the fact that they’re executing acts of deception but a smart person would figure out the truth.
The 48 laws that Green states are as follows:
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 costs 7.Get others to do the work for you,but always take the credit 8.Make other people come to you-use bait if necessary 9.Win through your actions,never through 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.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 a 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 will 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 to perfect 47. Do not go past the mark you aimed for; in victory learn when to stop 48.Assume Formlessness.
This is a rather lengthy book, because each of these laws is accompanied with real life anecdotes of historical figures who used that law to their advantage. Each of the laws are also accompanied with reversals meaning they show that the laws can also backfire and make things worst. So it is truly your intelligence that’s the determining factor of whether the laws are effective or not. Now do I personally believe in the concept of this novel?to some extent i do. It is definitely interesting , and Greene absolutely makes some true points in regards to human behavior and self-interest. While the act of being deceptive and manipulative is distasteful, the real life examples provided really helped me grasp why the use of some of these laws are necessary.
Overall a great read.