The 48 Laws of Power

the 48 laws of power

The 48 Laws of Power (1998) is a politically incorrect self-help book based on real-world power dynamics, Machiavellianism, and the hidden and darker motives of human psychology.

About the Author

About The Author: Robert Greene has a background in classical studies and is a best-selling author of books on power, manipulation, and practical social psychology.
Albeit not a psychologist or sociologist himself, Greene stands out for the depth and acuity of his social observations and, together with Nassim Taleb, he is one of my favorite authors.
For “The 48 Laws of Power” Robert Greene drew inspiration from “The Art of Worldy Wisdom“.

Manipulation: Techniques, Strategies, & Ethics

The 48 Laws of Power List

Before diving in, here is a quick list of the 48 Laws of Power:

Law 1: Never Outshine the Master

Law 2:  Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends. Use Your Enemies

Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions

Law 4: Always Say Less than Necessary

Law 5: Protect Your Reputation at All Costs

Law 6: Court Attention at All Costs

Law 7: Get Others Do the Work For You, But Take the Credit

Law 8: Make People Come to You

Law 9: Win Through Actions, Never Through Argument

Law 10: Don’t Get Infected by Misery and Misfortune

Law 11: Learn to Keep People Dependent on You

Law 12: Use Selective Honesty & Generosity to Disarm Your Victim

Law 13: Get Help by Appealing to Self-Interest, Never to Their Mercy

Law 14: Pose As a Friend Work As a Spy

Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally

Law 16: Raise your Value Through Absence and Scarcity

Law 17: Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability

Law 18: Don’t Isolate Yourself Behind a Fortress

Law 19: Know Who You’re Dealing with

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

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

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 to Scatter the Sheep

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, Know When to Stop

Law 48: Assume Formlessness

Also check out:

The 48 Laws Infographic

And this is an infographic of “The 48 Laws of Power”.

Each icon has a deeper meaning, and you might have to reflect on it to fully get it:

48 laws of power list and summary in infographifc format

Bookmark it so you always get the latest and updated version.

Law #1. Never Outshine The Master

Make the people above you feel comfortably superior.

When you outshine your masters and bosses, you will inspire fear and insecurity and they will want to punish you.

In your desire to please or impress them, do not go too far either, or you might accomplish the opposite.

Instead, make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power.

Se one example of outshining the master from the movie Platoon:

Barne’s mistake there is to out-power the lieutenant.
Read the whole case study here

Reversal of The Law: Getting Stuck Behind Petty Bosses

I must warn you here not to get too carried away with this law.

If you have an average boss, and most bosses are average, “never outshining the master” could easily mean years of wasted time as you lower yourself below average.

If you have big dreams and visions, you can’t stay stuck behind mediocrity for ever.

never outshine the master example

Law #2. Don’t Put Too Much Trust in Friends – Learn to Use Your Enemies

Robert Greene says that it’s easy for friends to grow resentful.

When you hire a friend simply for being a friend they will resent you.

Why?

Because people want to feel like they deserve what they get, and they want to feel like they are the masters of their own life.

If you help them because they’re your friend, they will feel like they got a handout from you, and they even need to thank you for making them feel bad.

And, ironically, the more gifts and favors you supply to revive that friendship, the less gratitude you receive.

Work requires some distance, Robert Greene says.
And if you want to maintain your power, you must be free to judge whoever furthers your interests the best.
And you can’t do that with friends.

Hire former enemies instead, they have more to prove and will be loyal.

Law #3. Conceal Your Intentions

Never let people know your true intentions.

If they don’t know what you are up to, they can’t defend from it.

Do the opposite instead: let them believe something purposefully wrong, and by the time they’ll realize your game, it will be too late.

Law #4. Say Less Than Necessary

Powerful people impress and intimidate by talking little.

You don’t learn anything new by talking, and the more you speak, the higher the chances you’ll say something foolish.

Let people fill your voids instead and they’ll reveal more about themselves.

See The Godfather leveraging this law:

Read here the full analysis of The Godfather.

Law #5. So Much Depends On Your Reputation: Guard It With Your Life

Reputation is the cornerstone of power.

Your reputation precedes you, and can hand you victory without even going into battle.
So make it unassailable and guard it with your life.

Thwart any attack against your reputation swiftly before they can gather any speed and destroy your enemies by undermining their reputation.

See Keanu Reeves managing his reputation without looking like he is managing it:

law of power example from keanu reevesAnd see people falling for it:

law of power number 5

Law #6. Court Attention At All Cost

What’s unseen doesn’t count.

All that matters is what is seen and appears to be true.

Don’t let yourself disappear in the greyness of the crowd, but stand out at all costs.

Do it with class though, like Monica Bellucci in “Malena”:

Law #7. Let Others Do the Work, But Always Take The Credit

At work, task your underlings and present the results to your superiors as if they were yours.

In war, send your troops ahead and walk over their dead bodies to enjoy the spoils of war.

Robert Greene uses the example of Edison exploiting Tesla’s genius and invention to get rich and famous thanks to Teslas’ invention (albeit this might be a false myth).

My Note:
This was funny for me since a few days prior I have read “Think and Grow Rich” where Napoleon Hill talks up Edison as a man of honor to emulate (lol).

Use the skills of others to do the work for you: never do yourself what others can do for you.

Law #8. Make Other People Come To You – Use Bait If Necessary

When you make the others act, you’re in control.

Let them come to you, let them abandon their own plans, and then attack.

How to Use Bait

I want to sell my garage.

And my neighbor wants to buy my flat, but not the garage.

Solution?
Use the garage as bait for the flat:

using bait to make other people come to you

I use the flat -which she wants- as a bait to make her come to me for what I want.

Law #9. Win Through Actions, Never Through Argument

Actions speak louder than words.

Any time you “win” an argument you rarely really convince anyone but you sure as hell will breed resentment (also read: How to Win Friends).

Much better to have others agreeing to your actions instead: demonstrate, don’t explicate.

Law #10. Infection: Avoid The Unhappy And Unlucky

Emotional states are contagious, be them positive or negatives.

So while you may think you’re helping a poor soul get back on his feet you’re actually bringing yourself down in the process.

Avoid the unhappy and unlucky then and associate yourself with the happy and lucky.

My Note:
While this might be true for some “unhelp-able” people who’ll always be in trouble, it can be the opposite for those who are honestly looking to better themselves.

Also watch out for helping up people who will later move on to greener pastures:

example of 48 laws of power

Law #11. Learn To Keep People Dependent On You

Never teach people enough so they can live happily without you, but keep them dependent on you instead.

The more people depend on you, the more freedom you have.

My Note:
I don’t fully agree with this law: this is how low-quality, abusive men think.  Keeping people dependent often results in co-dependencies (see Beatty, 1986) and, often, often the more people depend on you, the less freedom you have. 

Law #12. Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm Your Victims

Be generous and honest once and manipulate them once their guard is down.

One good act of honesty can cover a dozen dishonest ones. 

My Note:
The best scams though involve people doing the opposite. They are often honest, to cover one big con.
See Madoff:

law of power number 12 example

Law #13. Appeal to Self-Interest, Never To Mercy or Gratitude

Don’t get people to do things for you by reminding them of what you’ve done for them in the past.

Instead, point to what’s in it for them in your current request and emphasize it.

My Note:
This is not always true. Also read “Criticism of The 48 Laws of Power“.

The 48 Laws of Power is All Wrong: This Is Why

Law #14. Pose As a Friend, Work As a Spy

Learn to probe, ask indirect questions to understand what are people’s weaknesses and intentions.

Every occasion is a good chance for artful spying.

Law #15. Crush Your Enemy Totally

Stopping halfway will only make your enemy plot in revenge.

Destroy your enemy completely instead, both in body and spirit.

Law #16. Use Absence To Increase Respect And Honor

Too much of anything will decrease your value.

Once you already well established within a group, learn to disappear for a while to let people talk, gossip and miss you.
That’s how you create value through scarcity (also see Cialdini, 1984).

Law #17. Keep Others In Suspended Terror: Cultivate An Air Of Unpredictability

Your unpredictability will keep others off balance.

And if you take it to an extreme, this strategy can intimidate and terrorize.

My Note:
I don’t agree with this law.
Albeit it will intimidate and terrorize, the disadvantages often exceed the benefits.
See Saddam Hussein and his terror strategy:

saddam hussein execution

Law #18. Do Not Build Fortresses – Isolation Is Dangerous

A fortress might seem the safest option, but the opposite is true.

It removes you from valuable information and makes you a sitting duck and an easy target.
Move around instead, mingle and make allies: the crowd and your web of allies will make you safer.

Law #19. Know Who You’re Dealing with – Do Not Offend The Wrong Person

To use any strategy, you must first know your target.

Deceiving or outmaneuvering some people will get you ahead without paying any price.
But do it with some others and they will plot and seek revenge for their whole life.

Choose your victims and opponents carefully then and never offend or deceive the wrong one.

Law #20. Do Not Commit To Anyone

Robert Greene says that fools always jump to take sides.

Don’t be a fool.
Do not commit to any side instead, but your own side.
As you keep your independence you’ll be able to better play the people around you, pitching them against one another and becoming the prize as they pursue your commitment.

Law #21. Play A Sucker To Catch a Sucker – Seem Dumber Than Your Mark

Make your victims feel like they are smarter than you are.

They will feel better around you, they will never suspect you are up to mischief and they will keep their guard down.

My Note:
A second-level application of the 21st law of power is to play the victim so that you can keep abusing others.

Ben Shapiro uses this strategy, here are some examples:

He says he is against bullying because he’s been bullied. And that way he can bullying others.

Law #22. Use The Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness Into Power

Never fight just for honor’s sake when you know you’ll be beaten.

It gives your enemy the satisfaction of winning outright and it will make you weaker.
Surrender instead.

Take time to recover, to wait for his power to decrease and attack when you’re at your strongest.

Law #23: Concentrate Your Forces

Intensity of focus beats breadth of effort.

You have more to gain by mining a single rich mine than by going from one shallow mine to another.

Also read:

Law #24. Play The Perfect Courtier

Law of Power number 24 is actually a whole list of laws.
Here they are:

  • Practice nonchalance: never seem to be working too hard, your talent must appear to flow naturally
  • Be frugal with flattery: learn to do it indirectly, by downplaying your own contributions
  • Arrange to be noticed: you cannot display yourself too brazenly, yet you must also get noticed. Often initially it is simply a matter of being seen. Pay attention to your physical appearance and find a way to create a distinctive -subtly distinctive- style and image.
  • Alter your style and language to your partner: the pseudo belief in equality -that you ought to speak the same way to those above and beneath you- is BS. The ones below will take it as a form of condescension, which it is, and those above might be offended without admitting it.
  • Never be the bearer of bad news
  • Don’t act friendly with your boss: that’s his choice. If he’s not friendly, keep a healthy distance
  • Be frugal in asking those above your for favors: it’s irritating having to reject someone’s requests. And do not ask for favors on another person’s behalf, least of all a friend.
  • Don’t be the court cynic: don’t go around criticizing peers and subordinates as it will rub off on you. Express modest admiration and when it’s called for it, express wonder and amazement.
  • Be self-observant: learn to be your own mirror training your mind to see yourself as others see you
  • Master your emotions: as an actor, learn to laugh and cry on command when appropriate. Disguise anger and frustration and fake contentment and agreement. Become the master of your own face. Call it lying if you like, and if you prefer not to play the game don’t complain when people call you arrogant and obnoxious
  • Be a source of pleasure: as simple as that. We flock to people who can give us good emotions.

Law #25. Recreate Yourself

Do not accept the identity the people around you choose for you.

Choose your own identity instead and change it as it fits you.
Like John Gray did when he created the identity of “relationship expert”:

how to fabricate an identity

Law #26. Keep Your Hands Clean

Maintain a spotless appearance, never allow yourself to be mired by mistakes scandals.
Use others as scapegoats when needed.

Law #27. Play On People’s Need to Create a Cultlike Following

People want to believe in something.
Be that person who gives them something to believe in, offer them a cause, a new faith.

Be poor on details, but rich in promises and hope. Enthusiasm trumps rationality.
Gives them rituals to abide by and ask them to perform sacrifices for you.

Law #28. Enter Action With Boldness

When you are unsure of what do to, don’t do anything.

Doubts and insecurity will mar your execution.
Better to burst into the scene with boldness instead. Bold mistakes are easily corrected with more boldness.
Everyone admires the bold, nobody likes the timid.

See how Donald Trump used this technique against Hillary Clinton:

Law 29. Plan All The Way To The End

The end is all that matters.
Be sure to plan all the way until you reach your desired outcome.

Law #30. Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless

Hide all the hard work that went into your accomplishment.

Act effortlessly, as if you could do much more, and people will be in awe of your “natural talent”.

My Note:
In today’s world it might be the opposite and you might be better off talking your hard work, dedication and drive.

Law #31. Control The Options: Get Others To Play With The Cards You Deal

The best deception is in making people feel like it was their choice.

Give them the options you choose and that will lead to the result you want.

See a case study here in negotiating a refund request.

Law #32. Play To People’s Fantasies

People want to avoid the truth because it makes them feel bad.

Don’t make them feel bad: make up a fantasy for them instead and they’ll be running to you like moths to the flame.

My Note:
The field of people promising the moon is an overcrowded one (see Tai Lopez).
And also consider there can power in directness and honesty.
 Ray Dalio built an empire out of pure, unadulterated truth.

Law #33. Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew

Everyone has a button and a hidden weakness that you can use to your advantage.

It can be something that was missing for them in their childhood, or it might be the need for emotional validation and recognition -to feel important-.

My Note:
I have met countless people who could be so easily maneuvered by pandering to their emotional needs.

Law #34. Be Royal In Your Own Fashion: Act Like a King To Be Treated Like One

Act like you want to be treated and eventually, people will come to treat the way you want -and act-.

Robert Greene goes into a fascinating story on how Christopher Columbus should have had no business in leading 3 ships to America.
But he acted and demanded it and eventually achieved it.

My Note:
There is a caveat to this rule though: once you already have power, then dressing as you please is a sign of power.
See Steve Jobs as an example:

law 34 example
Powerless Jobs (left) and powerful Jobs (right)

When you’re already powerful, dressing badly is a sign of power (you don’t need to care about appearances anymore).

Law #35. Master The Art Of Timing

Never seem in a hurry as it communicates you’re at the mercy of events and forces outside of yourself.

See how powerful mafia bosses move slowly:

Look patient, recommends Greene, as if you knew everything will pan out eventually.

And learn to understand the spirit of time, the trends you can ride all the way to power.
Avoid going against the zeitgeist and against what is considered “good and moral” in your time. Even if it’s politically correct BS, you will lose going against the spirit of your time.
Also read the law of virtue signaling:

Finally, stand back when the time is not yet ready and strike boldly at the right time.

Law #36. Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Is The Best Revenge

At times you will not be able to reach a goal.

By acknowledging the problem, you make it stronger by giving it attention and credibility.
And if it’s a person, you often empower them by giving them more visibility and attention.

Whenever you can, leave things alone instead.
And when you want something you can’t have, show contempt for it.

My Note:
Robert Greene seems to conflate contempt and ignoring, but they are far from being similar.
Disdaining anything is also a way of giving attention (and you come across as spiteful).

Law #37. Create Compelling Spectacles

Dashy imagery and symbolic gestures create an aura of power.

Those around you will be drawn and distracted by your flashy spectacles and not notice what you’re really up to.

Law #38: Think As You Like But Behave Like Others

If you flaunt your ways of going against the crowd people will feel you look down on them and you’re an attention seeker.

They will punish you for trying to make them feel like sheep.

Share your uniqueness only with the tolerant ones who can appreciate it instead and fit in with the sheep when you’re with the sheep.

My Note:
On most occasions, I agree. 
And yet, it’s also a sign of power to show how different you are. Going against the rules shows that you can go against the rules.

law of power 38
Agnelli hated fitting in, and one way he signaled it was with the watch above his wrist

Law #39. Stir Up Waters To Catch Fish

Make your enemy angry and worked up as you always maintain your cool: it’s easier to induce people into mistakes when they’re angry and emotional.

Ben Shapiro mastered this technique to perfection to achieve fame and power:

Law #40. Despise The Free Lunch

What has worth is worth paying for.

Behind a free lunch, there’s usually a trick or hidden obligation. Always pay and stay away from the burdens of guilt and gratitude.

Always pay in full, too: let your money move around generously. That’s both a sign and a magnet for power.

The example in the book is of a woman who was stingy about her money because she associated giving money away as giving away power.
So she harassed her architect to no end, until she was made to pay in full, a few times over, for her stinginess.

Law #41. Avoid Stepping Into A Great Man’s Shoes

What happened in the past always seems better than what’s in the present.

Do not follow in the footsteps of great leaders and do not follow their path: build your name and identity by changing instead.

Law #42. Strike The Shepherd And The Sheep Will Scatter

The source of your problems can often be traced back to a single strong person.

If you allow these people the freedom to move, they will keep stirring troubles and possibly rally the crowd against you.
Do not let those people time to pester, but strike them hard at once: the sheep will scatter after them.

Also read:

A Manager’s Guide To Toxic Employees

Law #43. Work On The Hearts And Minds Of Others

Coercing makes people push back against you.
You must instead seduce others into wanting to do what you want them to do.

Once you seduced someone, they are your loyal pawn for you to move them as you please.
Work on their emotions, play on what they hold dear and what they fear.
Also read:

Law #44. Disarm and Infuriate With the Mirror Effect

Mirror your enemies, do what they do, and they won’t be able to figure out your strategy.

You can make them angry and make them overreact with the mirror effect or you can dupe them into believing you share their values.

Law #45. Preach The Need For Change, But Never Reform At Once

Everybody understands the need for change, but we all cling to our habits.

Humans are creatures of habit, and we don’t really like change. Too much innovation, too quickly, will lead to revolt.

When you’re new to power then, make a show of respecting the old way of doing things, and if change is needed, do it slowly.
Make it feel like a gentle improvement over the past.

Law #46. Never Appear Too Perfect

Only Gods and the dead can appear perfect with impunity.

Appearing better than others is dangerous, and most dangerous is appearing perfect.
It creates envy, and envy creates silent enemies. It’s much better to occasionally display defects instead, and admit to some small vices.

Robert Greene says it’s naive to believe that as you gain power you won’t be envied.
Expect envy instead and that it will work against you insidiously.
One of the ways to avoid it can be to painting power as a burden, and the role you’re playing and power you wield as a sacrifice you took upon.

And if you are the one who feels envy, don’t let it poison you, but use it outwardly to match and surpass those you’re envious of.

Reversal of The Law: Malena Was Too Beautiful

Malena (Monica Bellucci) was too beautiful and too perfect for the average women of her village.

She remained too distant and too aloof, becoming the target of heir envy and jealousy.

And it culminated with a lynching mob (YB removed the video, watch the movie :).

Law #47. Do Not Go Past The Mark You Aimed For: Learn When To Stop

When we’re riding the high wave of victory arrogance and overconfidence can easily push you past the goal you had settled for.

And when you go too far, you make more enemies than you can defeat.

Don’t allow success to go to your head, but set a goal and stop once you reach it.

Law #48. Assume Formlessness

Never bet on stability and lasting order, everything changes.

And with a given shape and a visible plan you’re too easy to attack.
Keep yourself adaptable and on the move instead.

Like any good Machiavellian would.

the 48 laws of power

The 48 Laws of Power Quotes

On resentment, jealousy, and frenemies:

When you 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

On leading with confidence:

If you are unsure of a course of action, do not attempt it.
Your doubts and hesitations will infect your execution. Timidity is dangerous: Better to enter with boldness.

On work and friendship:

Keep your friends for friendship, but work with the skilled and competent

On reputation:

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.

On the dangers of victory:

There is nothing more intoxicating than victory, and nothing more dangerous

On wasting time on other people’s

business:

Never waste valuable time, or mental peace of mind, on the affairs of others—that is too high a price to pay.

On friends:

Lord, protect me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies.

The 48 Laws of Power Video

Real Life Applications

If I had to mention a couple of rules I found the most useful:

  • Win through your actions, not through your words

A fantastic reminder that you should rarely really battle ideologies and rather just act.

  • Appeal to self-interest

This is the golden rule of always leading with what’s in it for them rather than just pleading for mercy or gratitude

  • Don’t put too much trust in friends

This is also a golden one many people would rather not talk about. You should always take a hard honest look at your friends and realize not everyone is worthy of being one. And relationships might easily sour when you hire some to help them out.

The 48 Laws of Power Criticism

Every now and then I receive an email asking me about this book.

And every time I see people getting it wrong.

So let’s get this straight on what this book is about, and what is not.
“The 48 Laws of Power” is a wonderful book of maxims that focuses on dark psychology and the more manipulative side of human nature.

The 48 Laws of Power is also a list of generalizations, often applied to people who are in a very different role and context than you are -unless you are a king-.

As such, you should not use “The 48 Laws of Power” as your main guide to acquire power and enjoy a successful life.

So, right away, check out:

Here are some consç

  • Unscientific, all “proofs” are anecdotal evidence

Robert Greene says that the laws are “timeless and definitive”.

I love Green and this book, but that’s a big croc there.
All the “proofs” that back up the “laws” are from old historical events.
Physics laws might be timeless and definitive, but not these 48 laws.

Humans move in a complex system, and what works and does not work is highly contextual, which leads us toç

  • Laws are highly specific and, hence, not “laws”

The laws are real and effective, but not at all times, and not “definitive”.

Quite the opposite: their application is highly specific.

Just as an example, if you were to apply “never outshine the master” all the times, you’d never move past your boss.
That is the perfect recipe to remain a lowly nine-to-fiver all your life.

The most ambitious corporate climbers do outshine their boss when the time comes (see Scarface as an example).

  • Too much cynicism is poisounous

Cynicism is healthy and necessary at the right doses.
But it must form the foundation for something better and more effective, otherwise, it just poisons you and makes you less effective.

Also read about “positive cynicism“.

Positive Cynicism: Turning Poison, Into Gold

  • Some laws are not as practical

Some of the laws are very theoretical and impractical, and the historical examples didn’t help to make them any clearer.

“Recreate yourself” or “assume formlessness” are such examples.
You read them, enjoy them but they will not help you much and you’ll probably forget them soon after.

  • Some laws are platitudes

Some rules might just sound obvious and the connected historical story just a nice to read novel with little added value.
“plan all the way to the end” was such an example for me.

  • No coherent structure to acquire power

The laws come from such disparate fields that it gives the book no coherent common thread.

You have suggestions on body language -moving slow-, macro strategy -planning till the end-, and workplace power -never outshine the master-.
What is lacking is a true overarching theory on how to acquire power.

  • Cynicism is good marketing, but not always good wisdom

Sometimes it feels like the book is resting on the idea that because it sounds cynical, then it must be true and effective.

That is not the case.
Evolutionary psychology, together with plenty of experiments and studies (Ridley, 1997) in both negotiation (Malhotra, 2008) and persuasion (Cialdini, 1994), have shown that over the long run cooperation beats defection.
Also read: The 48 Laws of Power for Virtuous Leaders.

The 48 Laws of Power for Virtuous Leaders

  • Heavily inspired by “The Art of Worldly Wisdom”

This might not be a con for the reader.
But after reading Baltasar Gracián I couldn’t help but feel that “The 48 Laws of Power” was far less original than I thought it was.

  • Micro, not macro

The laws are tactical.
You are not going to learn power dynamics with “The 48 Laws of Power”.

For more, please read:

Review

In a way, “The 48 Laws of Power” is similar to The Power Moves.

It lays bare all the games and tricks people play as they jostle for power positions.
Needless to say, I loved it.

Commenting on the quality, this book can be an eye-opener.
Just make sure you understand that maxims are not strategies, and you should blindly and randomly apply these laws.

Also, keep in mind that some case studies from the ancient world don’t always translate well to modernity.
That is why I curated a mini-series follow-up with more modern real-life use of the 48 Laws of Power.
See:

Overall, The 48 Laws of Power is an amazing read and a great resource to understand the darker side of human behavior.

Check out the:

Or get the Book on Amazon

2 thoughts on “The 48 Laws of Power”

  1. The 48 Laws of Power is old school common sense, it’s an easy read, but there is not much to learn for anyone with just OK social skills.

    1. Lucio Buffalmano

      Well, you’re not fully wrong.
      People with higher EQ, people with good social skills and those who approach life with a critical mind might not find nearly as much new ground broken.
      Still, some of the examples are good and you can learn at least something from those.

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