The 48 Laws of Power (1998) takes an irreverent look at the fundamental characteristics of power – how to understand it, defend against it, and use it to your advantage. This summary offers compelling insights, backed by historical examples, into the dynamics of competition and control.
Introduction: Discover the history, secrets, and inner workings of power.
Whether we like it or not, we humans are born into an ongoing game: the game of power.
The game has been underway since the dawn of history, and, whether wittingly or unwittingly, every one of us is a player. Sometimes the game is bloody and overt. But more often it is indirect, subtle, played in the shadows.
The question is: Do you know the rules – and are you playing to win?
Some people choose to ignore it, deceiving themselves into thinking that the game of power is something we can opt out of. Or they might protest that the game is evil and asocial, a relic of less moral and democratic times. These players are easily dominated by those who embrace the game.
Others, like domineering playground bullies or charismatic business titans, seem to be natural adepts, dominating without even trying. But the game is not rigged in their favor. Their skills can be learned and mastered by anyone who studies the game and plays it well.
In The 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene maps out the rules of the game, using historical examples from civilizations across the globe, drawing on three thousand years of history. He distills the lessons from master manipulators that will teach you how to outmaneuver your opponents and become a master player, a modern-day Machiavelli.
In this summary, we’ll give you a glimpse – a first taste – of power by distilling 12 of the book’s 48 laws. After all, we wouldn’t want to give away all the secrets, now would we?
In this summary, you’ll find out
- how a beginner’s mistake can help you win big;
- why a finance minister was cast into a dungeon for preparing a glorious party for his king; and
- how sometimes your best chance to win a battle is by surrendering.
If you leverage the Laws of Power, people will believe you’re worthy of a powerful position and listen to what you have to say. If you obey the Laws of Power, you’ll prolong your time in powerful positions because opponents will refuse to challenge you.
I’ve distilled many of the 48 Laws of Power into three easy‐to‐remember Laws. If you use these three Primary Power Laws, you’ll significantly elevate your power in meetings, negotiations, and the organization you work in.
Primary Power Law #1: Say as little as possible (let your actions speak for you)
“When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control…Powerful people impress by saying less.” – Robert Greene
When you limit your words, your words become like a scarce resource that people value immensely. Be comfortable with conversational pauses and let people nervously fill the silence and reveal valuable information you can use. Perfect your timing (Power Law #35) to amplify the impact of your words. Be like a hawk silently circling above a conversation, watching and listening, as you wait for the right moment to dive in and deliver a few well‐thought‐out words to receptive ears.
Saying little and concealing your intentions (Power Law #3) will consistently wow your audience and prevent your competition from getting the upper hand. Apple, arguably the most powerful company on the planet, goes to great lengths to conceal their intentions by saying very little about their next product. They make their competition guess what they’re up to and garner massive attention when they
announce a new product.
If you say little about your work process, you give people the impression your achievements are effortless (Power Law #30). The Great Houdini captivated audiences because he never revealed his tricks and never let people know how hard he practiced each escape. Saying little about his process led people to believe that he had superior psychic abilities.
Primary Power Law #2: Be audacious
- Muhammad Ali called himself the greatest.
- Babe Ruth pointed at the outfield wall before going to bat.
- Richard Branson drove a tank down Times Square and flew a hot air balloon around the world.
These bold individuals created compelling spectacles (Power Law #37) that garnered attention (Power Law #6) and elevated their status in their sport or business market.
Leading up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election, I wondered why there were so many people running for office that had no chance of winning. Later I realized that merely setting and pursuing the audacious goal of becoming President allowed the governors and senators to elevate their status in their home state.
Shaun White and Simone Biles were powerhouses in their respective sports because they routinely showed up to events with audacious new moves, which captivated the audience and made their opponents feel like they couldn’t compete.
Be audacious by concentrating all your forces (Power Law #23) on one bold objective that will get people talking. Before pursuing such a goal, mentally prepare for all possible obstacles and twists of fortune you may encounter (Power Law #29), so you can enter an audacious endeavor with boldness (Power Law #28). As Greene says, “Everyone admires the bold; no one honors the timid.”
Primary Power Law #3: Be formless
Be formless by constantly recreating yourself (Power Law #25). Greene says, “Do not accept the roles that society foists on you…Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define it for you.”
If you don’t solidify yourself to one position, group, or identity, and constantly evolve your thinking, you create a powerful air of unpredictability (Power Law #17). A United States senator who goes between party lines, voting for conservative and liberal bills, has immense negotiating power. People from both sides of the aisle make generous offers to secure their vote.
Bruce Lee said, “You must be shapeless, formless, like water.”
Your formlessness will be fueled by one truth: everything changes; everything ends. Since you know everything changes, you remain calm and emotionally stable when everyone else is flustered by change. People will see your emotional stability as a superpower.
“The ability to master your emotions (is critical to building a foundation of power). An emotional response to a situation is the single greatest barrier to power…” – Robert Greene
Don’t outdo the master.
Have you ever tried to impress your boss, only to have your efforts backfire on you? Well, you may have accidentally violated the first law of the game of power, which is, in Greene’s words, to never outshine the master.
The first law of power dictates that we should appear humble to our superiors, the people who have more power than we do.
After all, powerful people want to be the center of attention; trying too hard to impress them can shift attention away from them and onto you, hurting their pride in the process.
But what’s even worse is acting superior to them, a move that could lead your boss to think of you as a threat to their position. If this happens, they may – they probably will – attempt to remove you from your position entirely.
Take the relationship between King Louis XIV of France and Nicolas Fouquet, the king’s finance minister. A smart and loyal advisor, Fouquet became indispensable, but this didn’t guarantee him the position of prime minister when the incumbent minister died. To gain the king’s favor, Fouquet threw a lavish party at his extravagantly furnished chateau to show the king how well-connected and influential he was.
The next day, Fouquet was arrested by order of the king. Louis XIV felt overshadowed, and he accused the minister of stealing to amass such extravagant wealth. The veracity of the accusation was beside the point. Fouquet lived out his remaining days in a prison cell.
So now you know: acts of extravagance and demonstrations of personal brilliance might not impress your boss. Quite the contrary. So how can you gain favor? Well, a better strategy is to always make the person in charge look better than everyone else, including yourself.
Take Galileo Galilei as an example. He desperately needed funding for his research and found an ingenious way to get it. He had spent years begging various patrons for funding, but would usually receive gifts instead of the necessary cash. So he decided to focus on one family – the Medicis – when, in 1610, he discovered the four moons of Jupiter.
Shortly before, Cosimo II de’ Medici had established Jupiter as the symbol for the Medici dynasty. When Galileo discovered Jupiter’s four moons, he linked his discovery to the enthronement of Cosimo II de’ Medici, proclaiming it a cosmic event that heralded the family’s ascendancy. He said that the four moons represented Cosimo II and his three brothers, while Jupiter itself was Cosimo I, the father of the four Medici brothers. This tickled his patron’s ego, who interpreted the discovery as a heavenly omen confirming the family’s greatness.
By making the Medici family appear glorious and aligning their name with the cosmos, Galileo secured himself a salaried position as the official philosopher and mathematician of Cosimo II. He never had to beg for funding again.
Take credit for other people’s work and be sure to protect your own.
Would you ever consider claiming parts of another person’s work as your own by plagiarizing a few clever snippets? Did you ever slyly steal answers from a classmate during a math test? Maybe you did or maybe you didn’t, but the truth is that attaining power often means using the work of others to your advantage.
Why waste your energy doing things if somebody else can do them for you? Did you know that the Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla worked for the famous inventor Thomas Edison? And it was actually Tesla, not Edison, who played the crucial role in creating Edison’s famed dynamo by improving Edison’s rather primitive design?
To make this discovery, Tesla worked tirelessly for an entire year, often clocking 18-hour days in the lab. But today, the dynamo is attributed to Edison.
Little has changed. Just think how few politicians write their own speeches, and how famous novelists “borrow” from other writers.
But reaping the benefits of work done by others isn’t enough – you’ll also need to take credit for it. Edison and his company claimed all the credit for Tesla’s work on the dynamo. Edison didn’t so much as share a cent of his profits with Tesla, even though Edison had promised Tesla $50,000!
So, keeping Tesla’s experience in mind, remember that the credit given for an invention or creation of any kind is just as essential as the invention itself. If you don’t claim credit, someone else will jump in, steal your idea, and take all the kudos that comes with it.
Gaining power over somebody means getting to know them – and posing as their friend.
Maybe you’ve encountered this problem before: you’re striving to outmaneuver the competition but can’t quite manage to accurately predict your competitors’ strategies. How can you get around this?
Well, another trick to gaining power is to gather important information about the people you want to control. And to get something from someone, you need to know about them. After all, knowing a person’s plans, weaknesses, and desires will help you both win their favor and guide their actions.
Take the art dealer Joseph Duveen, who, in 1920, resolved to win industrialist Andrew Mellon as a client. But Mellon was not easily convinced, so Duveen decided to bribe Mellon’s staff to pass him secret information about their employer.
When Mellon traveled to London, Duveen made sure to follow him. Duveen showed up at the same art gallery Mellon was visiting, supposedly by chance, and engaged him in a vibrant conversation.
Since Duveen knew so much about what Mellon liked, he easily gained his favor by making him believe that they shared common tastes in art, among other things. As a result, the encounter ended on a happy note, and Mellon soon became Duveen’s best client.
So how can you pull off Duveen’s trick?
You can hire informants or, even better, act as a spy yourself by posing as a person’s friend. While most people opt for hired spies, this strategy is risky. After all, how can you be sure that your spies are being honest with you?
To be sure your information is accurate, it’s best to do the spying yourself. This is no easy task, as people generally hesitate to share private information with strangers.
However, they’re not as secretive when in the company of someone they consider a friend, which makes posing as a companion a highly effective strategy.
Act unpredictably to confuse the competition.
You probably know that most people don’t like sudden changes, but did you know that you can use unpredictability to your competitive advantage? Acting unpredictably can keep your competition off balance. Here’s how.
In competitive scenarios, your opponents will likely try hard to figure you out by monitoring your habits and decision-making, and they won’t hesitate to use this information against you. In this situation, your best move is to act erratically. Being unpredictable will protect you from being understood by your opponents, which will intimidate and unnerve them.
Take the famous 1972 chess match between Bobby Fischer and the Russian champion Boris Spassky. Fischer knew that Spassky’s technique was to target the routines and predictability of his opponent, and Fischer used this information to his advantage by playing as unpredictably as possible.
Even in the days leading up to the match, Fischer made it seem unclear whether or not he would make it to Reykjavik, where the pair was set to play. And when he did arrive, it was moments before the match was set to be canceled due to his absence. After this stunt, Fischer proceeded to complain about everything from the lighting to the chairs and noise in the room.
When they finally began the first match, Fischer made careless mistakes before giving up, an odd move since he was known for his persistence. Spassky couldn’t tell if he was actually making mistakes or just bluffing.
At this point, Fischer had Spassky just where he wanted him. When your competitor is sufficiently confused, you’re in a perfect position to win.
Doing things that perplex your opponent will cause him to try to explain your behavior and distract him from the task at hand, giving you the chance to strike.
So, after two games of chess, Fischer began winning game after game with bold moves. Spassky conceded, and Fischer was named world champion.
Surrendering to a stronger opponent will help you gather power later.
Have you ever taken on an opponent knowing that you’ll never win? While it’s common for people to fight for glory against all odds, it’s not the route to power. So what should you do when faced with a more powerful opponent?
This may seem an odd strategy, especially since humans instinctively fight their enemies to protect themselves. But when a competitor acts with aggression, he will expect you to respond in the same way. In cases where you know that the competition has you beat, your best move is to surrender.
If you give up or at least convince your enemy that you’ve done so, you can ensure that he won’t deliver substantial damage. Not only that, but your opponent, thinking he has won, will also let down his guard. When he does, you’ll have a golden opportunity to regain your strength and plan your next move.
Take the case of Bertolt Brecht, a writer of revolutionary communist ideas, who immigrated to the United States in 1941 to join other intellectuals exiled from Europe. After World War II, Brecht and his peers were summoned before the US Congress, which was investigating a supposed communist infiltration of Hollywood.
While his fellow radicals caused a commotion and challenged the authority of Congress by yelling and being uncooperative, Brecht was calm and politely answered the questions he was asked.
Because of his good behavior, Brecht was released by the government, which even offered to help him with his immigration procedure. In the end, their offer was irrelevant because he left the country and continued writing about his firm communist beliefs.
And his stubborn friends?
They were blacklisted, unable to publish for years!
So, do as Brecht did and make surrender a tool of self-empowerment. Build up long-term strength rather than making major sacrifices for a short-lived moment of glory.
If you want to be treated like a superior, you’ve got to act like one.
Are you higher up the ladder than someone else? If so, it’s essential to act the part – unless, of course, you prefer to be seen as their equal. But a word of warning: acting as if you’re equal to others while holding a superior position will only inspire contempt.
Take Louis-Philippe, King of France during the 1830s and 1840s. He despised royal ceremonies and all the symbols associated with the throne. In defiance of the formalities required of his position, he was infamous for wearing a gray hat and holding an umbrella in place of his crown and scepter. He didn’t even keep the company of royalty, mostly befriending bankers instead.
But the king’s behavior didn’t do him any good – he was soon hated by both rich and poor. Wealthy people disapproved of the unlikely king, while the poor disliked a monarch who acted like the lower classes but didn’t look out for them. Even his banker friends turned on him when they found they could insult him without being reprimanded.
All this hatred mounted until the people rose up against him and he was forced to abdicate the throne.
In general, people are suspicious of higher-ups who act like their equals; doing so leads others to think you’re dishonest, as they’ll assume your modest ways are a sly trick to cloud your privileges.
So what’s a better tactic?
You should instead use the strategy of the crown to make people treat you like royalty. Simply put, if you believe you’re above others and act accordingly, other people will begin to believe you’re superior, too. They’ll assume there is good reason for you to act in such a way.
Christopher Columbus behaved like royalty and, consequently, most people viewed him as such. In fact, it was his confident socializing with the Spanish royal family that eventually convinced the Spanish throne to finance his voyages.
Seduction works better than coercion to gain power over others.
Picture yourself as Chuko Liang, head strategist for the ancient Chinese state of Shu. War has just been declared on China from the south by King Menghuo, and it’s up to you to stop him and save the country.
But before learning what you should do, it’s essential to know what you shouldn’t.
First of all, using force and coercive tactics is never wise, even when they’re the easiest choice. If you do exercise your strength, people will secretly resent you, because force breeds resistance. Liang knew this and didn’t attack, even though he probably would have defeated the invading army.
However, if he had, Menghuo would have resented both China and Liang, and the country would have to continuously protect itself. This would have exhausted everyone involved and bred paranoia.
Seduction is a better strategy. People tend to be controlled by their emotions, and by playing on their feelings, you can make them do what you want – of their own free will.
You can do this by threatening your opponent so that they expect pain and then suddenly treating them kindly. When Menghuo attacked China, Liang captured him and his entire army. Menghuo was separated from his soldiers. He expected the worst. But to his great surprise, he was offered delicious food and wine instead.
While Liang released his enemy’s soldiers, he said he would only let Menghuo go when the enemy king promised that if he was ever captured again, he would bow to the Chinese king.
And while Liang captured Menghuo several more times, he always let him go. Then, on the seventh capture, Menghuo dropped to Liang’s feet, surrendering himself and his kingdom.
Even though Liang could have killed Menghuo, a fact that his enemy knew well, he gave him plenty of chances and treated him handsomely each time. As a result, Menghuo grew increasingly grateful and indebted to the Chinese king, until he finally surrendered of his own volition.
In your quest for power, avoid your friends and collaborate with your enemies.
When you find yourself in a tricky professional situation, it’s only natural to want to recruit your friends. After all, who better to soften the pain of a business ordeal than a supportive friend? Well, actually, anybody.
Counting on your friends is a major misstep. The reason is simple: your friends are most likely to compare themselves to you and therefore be envious of what you have. That’s why the smartest move is to create distance between you and them.
Chinese emperors were regularly assassinated by their closest friends, many of whom they had appointed as generals. Aware of this treacherous potential, Emperor Sung took a different tack; in 959, he cleverly invited his generals – all friends of his – to a banquet. Once there, he offered them estates and riches, leading all of them to retire to palaces. As a result, Sung reigned for another 16 years, a feat that was unheard of at the time.
But if you push your friends away, with whom are you supposed to work?
It may seem odd, but the best idea is to collaborate with your enemies, thereby broadening your influence. In 1807, the foreign minister of France, Talleyrand, realized that Napoleon was losing his influence over the empire. With this in mind, Talleyrand attempted to overthrow him. But to carry out such a dangerous plan, he needed a serious accomplice.
In the end, he unexpectedly found the perfect person in the chief of the secret police, Joseph Fouché, who had long been Talleyrand’s political adversary and the primary rival for Napoleon’s favor. Nevertheless, the collaboration worked because both men believed that Napoleon was going down and that France needed a new leader.
So, while Talleyrand undercut Napoleon’s diplomatic work with Russia, Fouché worked with the English to further undermine the Emperor’s position. Eventually, Napoleon was overthrown, and while Fouché also lost influence, Talleyrand rose to be an important minister in the government that took power.
Convince people through artful action rather than argumentation.
Have you ever gotten into a heated debate that went late into the night, eventually resulting in the other person begrudgingly conceding? It’s easy for the most stubborn among us to count such events as victories, but beware: the truth is quite different.
In reality, working to convince others by debate is a total waste of time, and can even be dangerous, especially if they’re powerful.
In 131 BC, Roman consul Mucianus was on a campaign to conquer the Greek town of Pergamus. To break down the city walls, he needed a massive ship mast to be turned into a battering ram. However, the engineer who had been assigned the task knew that a smaller mast would work better. He argued his point to the soldiers, insisting that they bring the consul the smaller of the two. He was right; the smaller mast would have worked better. But that didn’t matter. The engineer was disrobed and whipped to death for the trouble he had caused.
In other words, it isn’t enough to be right and tell people so. A better approach is to convince people through cunning action. Often, with a little bit of thought, you can come up with a way to ensure that your idea prevails, while making your opponent believe that you agree with them.
Sir Christopher Wren, the famous seventeenth-century British architect, was once commissioned to design a town hall for Westminster. But he wasn’t left to his own devices. The mayor of Westminster, fearing that the building might fall down and destroy his office on the first floor, demanded that two extra supporting columns be added.
Wren knew that the mayor’s fears were baseless. But instead of saying so, he simply built the two columns. Many years later, builders working on a high scaffold found that the columns ended just before meeting the ceiling. In reality, they were doing nothing at all to hold the building up. The rather cunning Wren had avoided a useless discussion while still making sure that his point was proved. The pillars were eventually removed.
When seeking another person’s help, rely on their self-interest, not their good will.
Assuming power is no easy task and, if you want to succeed, you’ll need to ask others for help. But how you ask is important. After all, you could ask people to aid you simply out of the goodness of their hearts. But that would be a mistake.
In the 1400s, there was an Italian prince in the town of Lucca. This prince was famous thanks to the support of a powerful family, the Poggios. However, after rising to power, he forgot all about the family, solely pursuing his own interests.
Annoyed by this, the Poggios began conspiring with other families to overthrow the prince. But before they did, one member of the Poggio family, Stefano, argued that diplomatic methods should be used instead. Stefano went to the prince, describing the coming rebellion and asking him to consider what the Poggios had done for him.
Upon hearing this, the prince invited the Poggios to his palace, where, rather than changing his ways and rewarding the family justly, he had them imprisoned and executed, including Stefano.
Simply put: asking people to do the right thing often doesn’t work out. Appeal to their self-interest instead. But this can be tricky, for the simple reason that most people are incapable of seeing beyond their own self-interest in order to consider other people’s self-interest!
In the sixteenth century, Portuguese emissaries to Japan worked desperately to establish relationships with the Japanese and convert them to Christianity. The plan failed. Not because the Portuguese were unwilling to appeal to the self-interest of the Japanese, but because the Portuguese were too focused on their own religious agenda to identify the true interests of the Japanese.
By contrast, when the Dutch arrived in Japan a century later, they were clever enough to recognize these interests. They found that the Japanese desired trade agreements that would grant them access to the European market, something the Dutch could deliver. As a result, the Japanese emperor, Tokugawa Ieyasu, ditched the Portuguese and developed relationships with the Dutch instead.
Being overly available will turn people off; holding back is the key to desirability.
Practically every person who has tried dating has been frustrated by human nature to one degree or another. After all, there’s a basic formula when it comes to love: if your lover returns your calls, you immediately lose interest; if they ignore you, you go mad with desire. But this doesn’t just apply to love. It’s another basic law of power.
It might sound simple, but the truth is that being too accessible will make people lose interest in you. In the eighth century BC, Medea, a city in what is now Iran, was inhabited by people who were against monarchs and any individual who held too much power. However, without a ruler, chaos was almost inevitable.
In this cacophony, a man named Deioces offered to mediate between rival parties and resolve their disputes. He was skilled at this, and his work gained him widespread admiration and love. However, after a while, as he continued to mediate and resolve, people began to take his work for granted. And since they were still opposed to the idea of a powerful ruler, they had no intention of giving him more power.
Deioces was failing to instrumentalize a key law of power: unavailability is essential to being desirable.
After all, it’s only when you disappear that people remember how valuable you are. Deioces eventually realized this and knew that the only way he would receive the recognition he deserved was by retiring. So he moved to the countryside and let Medea return to its former chaos.
Pretty soon, the Medeans arrived at his door, desperately begging him to return and rule over them. He agreed, on one condition: a huge palace should be constructed for him, armed to the teeth with bodyguards. Once the people agreed, he ruled the area for 53 years.
Instead of isolating yourself out of fear, surround yourself with those on whom you depend.
When people find themselves surrounded by others, some of whom are obvious enemies, it’s only natural to seek out protection. During times like these, building a fortress to hide in can feel like the perfect solution. But, actually, isolating yourself in this way is counterproductive because it also cuts you off from power and influence.
You can’t attain any significant power without a sense of what’s happening around you. Just take an example from China in 220 BC. Ch’i Shih Huang Ti was not only emperor of China but also the most powerful person in the world. However, toward the end of his life, he became paranoid that people were out to harm him. So he retired to a lavish palace, protected by a maze of secret passageways that let him move from room to room without ever being seen.
Anyone who so much as set eyes on the emperor would be executed immediately. As a final precaution, the emperor only traveled alone, elaborately disguising himself when he did to avoid recognition. It was on one such outing that he died, estranged from his family, isolated from his friends, and forgotten by his court.
Isolation isn’t the answer. Instead, you’ve got to surround yourself with the people on whom your power depends. There’s perhaps no starker contrast to Ch’i Shih Huang Ti than Louis XIV, who filled his Versailles palace with courtiers who were bound to attend daily social events in his room.
The aristocracy had been rebelling against the growing power of the king since they had lost the right to govern and exploit large territories independently of the monarch. The aristocrats were naturally not pleased about these changes.
By keeping the very same noblemen in his chambers under his watchful eye where he could use his powers of manipulation and careful endowment of privileges, Louis stopped the rebellion. In fact, his courtiers vied for his favor and attention.
The game of power is alway being played – and it always has been. You can try to ignore the game, but you can’t opt out. So your best bet is to learn the rules and play as best you can. Historically, the world has been ruled by power and conquest. Of course, much has changed in the modern era, but the importance of control and dominance has remained. By learning from the failures and victories of historical power struggles, you too can become a force with which to be reckoned – a strong contender in the game of power.
About the author
Robert Greene, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 48 Laws of Power, The 33 Strategies of War, The Art of Seduction, Mastery, and The Laws of Human Nature, is an internationally renowned expert on power strategies. He lives in Los Angeles.
Joost Elffers is the packaging genius behind Viking Studio’s Secret Language series, Play with Your Food, and How Are You Peeling?. He lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
LAW 1 – NEVER OUTSHINE THE MASTER
LAW 2 – NEVER PUT TOO MUCH TRUST IN FRIENDS, LEARN HOW TO USE ENEMIES
LAW 3 – CONCEAL YOUR INTENTIONS
LAW 4 – ALWAYS SAY LESS THAN NECESSARY
LAW 5 – SO MUCH DEPENDS ON REPUTATION—GUARD IT WITH YOUR LIFE
LAW 6 – COURT ATTENTION AT ALL COST
LAW 7 – GET OTHERS TO DO THE WORK FOR YOU, BUT ALWAYS TAKE THE CREDIT
LAW 8 – MAKE OTHER PEOPLE COME TO YOU—USE BAIT IF NECESSARY
LAW 9 – WIN THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS, NEVER THROUGH ARGUMENT
LAW 10 – INFECTION: AVOID THE UNHAPPY AND UNLUCKY
LAW 11 – LEARN TO KEEP PEOPLE DEPENDENT ON YOU
LAW 12 – USE SELECTIVE HONESTY AND GENEROSITY TO DISARM YOUR VICTIM
LAW 13 – WHEN ASKING FOR HELP, APPEAL TO PEOPLE’S SELF-INTEREST, NEVER TO THEIR …
LAW 14 – POSE AS A FRIEND, WORK AS A SPY
LAW 15 – CRUSH YOUR ENEMY TOTALLY
LAW 16 – USE ABSENCE TO INCREASE RESPECT AND HONOR
LAW 17 – KEEP OTHERS IN SUSPENDED TERROR: CULTIVATE AN AIR OF UNPREDICTABILITY
LAW 18 – DO NOT BUILD FORTRESSES TO PROTECT YOURSELF—ISOLATION IS DANGEROUS
LAW 19 – KNOW WHO YOU’RE DEALING WITH—DO NOT OFFEND THE WRONG PERSON
LAW 20 – DO NOT COMMIT TO ANYONE
LAW 21 – PLAY A SUCKER TO CATCH A SUCKER—SEEM DUMBER THAN YOUR MARK
LAW 22 – USE THE SURRENDER TACTIC: TRANSFORM WEAKNESS INTO POWER
LAW 23 – CONCENTRATE YOUR FORCES
LAW 24 – PLAY THE PERFECT COURTIER
LAW 25 – RE-CREATE YOURSELF
LAW 26 – KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN
LAW 27 – PLAY ON PEOPLE’S NEED TO BELIEVE TO CREATE A CULTLIKE FOLLOWING
LAW 28 – ENTER ACTION WITH BOLDNESS
LAW 29 – PLAN ALL THE WAY TO THE END
LAW 30 – MAKE YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS SEEM EFFORTLESS
LAW 31 – CONTROL THE OPTIONS: GET OTHERS TO PLAY WITH THE CARDS YOU DEAL
LAW 32 – PLAY TO PEOPLE’S FANTASIES
LAW 33 – DISCOVER EACH MAN’S THUMBSCREW
LAW 34 – BE ROYAL IN YOUR OWN FASHION: ACT LIKE A KING TO BE TREATED LIKE ONE
LAW 35 – MASTER THE ART OF TIMING
LAW 36 – DISDAIN THINGS YOU CANNOT HAVE: IGNORING THEM IS THE BEST REVENGE
LAW 37 – CREATE COMPELLING SPECTACLES
LAW 38 – THINK AS YOU LIKE BUT BEHAVE LIKE OTHERS
LAW 39 – STIR UP WATERS TO CATCH FISH
LAW 40 – DESPISE THE FREE LUNCH
LAW 41 – AVOID STEPPING INTO A GREAT MAN’S SHOES
LAW 42 – STRIKE THE SHEPHERD AND THE SHEEP WILL SCATTER
LAW 43 – WORK ON THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF OTHERS
LAW 44 – DISARM AND INFURIATE WITH THE MIRROR EFFECT
LAW 45 – PREACH THE NEED FOR CHANGE, BUT NEVER REFORM TOO MUCH AT ONCE
LAW 46 – NEVER APPEAR TOO PERFECT
LAW 47 – DO NOT GO PAST THE MARK YOU AIMED FOR; IN VICTORY, LEARN WHEN TO STOP
LAW 48 – ASSUME FORMLESSNESS
Amoral, cunning, ruthless, and instructive, this multi-million-copy New York Times bestseller is the definitive manual for anyone interested in gaining, observing, or defending against ultimate control – from the author of The Laws of Human Nature.
In the book that People magazine proclaimed “beguiling” and “fascinating,” Robert Greene and Joost Elffers have distilled three thousand years of the history of power into 48 essential laws by drawing from the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Carl Von Clausewitz and also from the lives of figures ranging from Henry Kissinger to P.T. Barnum.
Some laws teach the need for prudence (“Law 1: Never Outshine the Master”), others teach the value of confidence (“Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness”), and many recommend absolute self-preservation (“Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally”). Every law, though, has one thing in common: an interest in total domination. In a bold and arresting two-color package, The 48 Laws of Power is ideal whether your aim is conquest, self-defense, or simply to understand the rules of the game.
THE BESTSELLING BOOK FOR THOSE WHO WANT POWER, WATCH POWER, OR WANT TO ARM THEMSELVES AGAINST POWER . . .
A moral, cunning, ruthless, and instructive, this piercing work distills three thousand years of the history of power into forty-eight well-explicated laws. As attention-grabbing in its design as it is in its content, this bold volume outlines the laws of power in their unvarnished essence, synthesizing the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun-tzu, Carl von Clausewitz, and other great thinkers. Some laws require prudence (“Law 1: Never Outshine the Master”), some stealth (“Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions”), and some the total absence of mercy (“Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally”) but like it or not, all have applications in real-life situations. Illustrated through the tactics of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Kissinger, P. T. Barnum, and other famous figures who have wielded — or been victimized by — power, these laws will fascinate any reader interested in gaining, observing, or defending against ultimate control.
“Machiavelli has a new rival. And Sun Tzu had better watch his back. Greene . . . has put together a checklist of ambitious behavior. Just reading the table of contents is enough to stir a little corner-office lust.”—New York magazine
“Beguiling . . . literate . . . fascinating. A wry primer for people who desperately want to be on top.”—People magazine
“An heir to Machiavelli’s Prince . . . gentler souls will find this book frightening, those whose moral compass is oriented solely to power will have a perfect vade mecum.” —Publishers Weekly
“Satisfyingly dense and . . . literary, with fantastic examples of genius power-game players. It’s The Rules meets In Pursuit of Wow! with a degree in comparative literature.”—Allure