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A Must-Read Book for Leaders and Entrepreneurs "The 48 Laws of Power"

Updated on September 18, 2013

Timeless 48 Laws To Power

The 48 Laws of Power is the first book by American author Robert Greene. The book was released on September 1, 2000 and became international bestseller. It has sold over 1.2 million copies in the United States alone according to and it has become a must-read book for leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians, celebrities and artists.

This book falls into the category of "Self-Help" and "Business" books. But, unlike most self-help books, "The 48 Laws of Power" offers advice that is, at times, cunning, ruthless and amoral as the author freely admits it. In fact, the book is way too different in its perspective and the examples it provides towards achieving one's goals in comparison to other books on self-development.

The 48 Laws of Power is definitely not a typical self-help book. This is one of those books that you will either love or hate because of its author's unusual style. Some laws teach the need for prudence ("Law 1: Never Outshine the Master"), the virtue of stealth ("Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions"), and some laws demand the total absence of mercy like ("Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally"), but like it or not, all laws in this book have applications in real life. (watch the video interview at the bottom of the hub.)

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene


“When you show yourself to the world and display your talents, you naturally stir all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity... you cannot spend your life worrying about the petty feelings of others”

- Robert Greene


“Do not leave your reputation to chance or gossip; it is your life's artwork, and you must craft it, hone it, and display it with the care of an artist.”

- Robert Greene

What Are The Laws?

The 48 Laws of Power is a collection of “laws” based on historical and philosophical anecdotes, synthesizing the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun-tzu, Carl von Clausewitz, and other great thinkers, with the historical legacies of statesmen, warriors, seducers, and con men throughout the ages. Using the stories of such figures as Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Kissinger, and P. T. Barnum, the Laws are illustrated through the tactics, triumphs, and failures of those who have wielded-- and those who have been victimized by--Power. Some of the laws are listed below:

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 Mercy or Gratitude

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

These laws are amoral, meaning they lack moral sensibility or not caring about right and wrong. In other words, this book focuses on how you can gain power in any situation, regardless of whether it’s morally right or wrong.


“Keep your friends for friendship, but work with the skilled and competent”
-Robert Greene

Why Should I Read This Book?

You might be thinking, "If this book contains cunning, ruthless and amoral advice, then why should I read it?". The good thing about this book is It does a brilliant job of explaining the mindset of those people who play such games to get power. It also gives clues to how some people think, particularly those that are overly power hungry. This book is intended to show people how to gain power, preserve it, and defend themselves against power manipulators.

This book is interestingly written as well, with a lot of historical anecdotes to support each of the points. Each Law comes with true stories from history about those who successfully observed it and those who foolishly or naively trangressed it, it also has an interpretation for each story. The author's explanations are not fluff or stuffing to make the book longer. They actually give greater clarification and depth.

Each law is its own chapter, complete with a "transgression of the law," "observation of the law," and a "reversal" making it a perfect book for those who do not have time to read a book from the beginning till the end. You may start reading it from any one of the chapters that seems attractive to you.

This book falls into the category of "books you didn't have any idea you needed, but once you read it, you know it's an important addition to your business and career bookshelf." How it works will depend on who follows it; as the old Chinese proverb has it, "When the wrong person does the right thing, it's the wrong thing". Whether your interest is conquest, self-defense, or simply being an educated spectator, The 48 Laws of Power will be the most important book you will ever read.

Two reasons to read this book:

1. To gain power;

2. To be aware of ways that people may be trying to manipulate you

If you think you will enjoy the harsh content and the ruthless guidance, read this book or listen to the audio book version and your thinking will never remain the same. Buy the book, don't waste your time searching for The 48 Laws of Power PDF version.

Robert Greene Interesting Interview

Robert Greene's Books, Audio books & Kindle


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    • profile image

      Jack 2 years ago

      Changed my life

    • filipinofoods profile image

      filipinofoods 5 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you!

    • Klavdija Frahm profile image

      Kendi 5 years ago from Slovenia

      Hmmm...sounds interesting, I'll put in on my "must read" list :) Voted up & interesting.