The 15 Best Books On Power

book image with "best power resources" writte on the cover

Are you looking for the best books on power?

You have come to the right place.

This website is dedicated to power dynamics, strategies, and practically-oriented self-development.
This is a complete reading list of the very best books and resources to understand power in all its aspects, it will help you increase your “power quotient“, and help you win at life.

15. The Prince

the prince book cover

By N. Machiavelli
Summary | Amazon

The Godfather of all power books.

It’s last in the order, but also commands the top position of this power-list.

Machiavelli was the first to write about realpolitik, and centuries later, it’s still an eye-opener for generations of (previously) naive folks.

Also read:

Power Nugget: if you want to be good, learn how to be bad first

For many politicians and leaders, power is something to hold on to at any cost with a web of lies, manipulation and, if necessary, fear.

Quote: A good person is ruined among the great numbers who are not good


14. Don’t Think of An Elephant

don't think of an elephant book cover

by G. Lakoff
Summary | Amazon

Have you ever heard this quote:

The biggest trick the devil pulled was to make people vote against their own self-interest.

I just made it up.

But how could you otherwise explain that Warren Buffet’s secretary pays more taxes than his own boss, one of the richest men in the world?

Well, we’re not going to attempt an answer here.
Because George Lakoff does it in one of the best books on framing, reframing and political persuasion (or manipulation, if you prefer).

Not only for the political discourse to which it’s tailored, but for the general influencing of the masses as well.

Caveat: this one is extremely partisan (liberal).

Also read:

Power Nugget: frames are everything

Facts do matter, but only if morally framed. 
But you better latch onto an existing one, or have the means to create a new one, because creating one takes time, effort, and repetition.

Quote: People do not necessarily vote in their self-interest. They vote their identity. They vote their values. They vote for who they identify with.


13. Business University

meme of boss taking advantage of employees

by L. Buffalmano
Summary | Amazon

Business University replaced Workplace Pokwer as the top resource on office politics and business power dynamics.

It summarizes the best research, books, and the author’s own wisdom when it comes to workplace politics, workplace power dynamics, and the most effective strategies and techniques to reach the top.

Power Nugget: politics matter as much, or more, than your actual work

Companies don’t care about employees.
They care about employees’ output.
Employment is a contract based on pure transactional values, ethics and morality are excluded.

Also read:

Quote: You can’t get inside someone else’s head until you get out of your own


12. How to Lie With Statistics

how to lie with statistics

by D. Huff
Summary

Knowledge is power.

Especially if you can make your statements sound unassailable.

And what a better way to do it than with data and science?
Our society reveres science!

And that’s why we should all learn how easily science can lend itself to manipulation.

Not juts manipulation by the way, but also:

And, of course:

  • Political movements of any sorts (see nazism and all kinds of utopian societies backed by “science” and which, conveniently, benefit the ones in power)

Also read:

  • Dark psychology: an overview of how psychology is used for manipulating, winning, and acquiring power
  • Best books on manipulation: a list of the best resources to learn about manipulation
  • Trust Me I’m Lying: the confessions of a media manipulator. Says the author: “if you want PR, sell the media the trash news that helps them sell”.

As an antidote, read:

Power Nugget: manipulate numbers & data, and use science to sell and persuade

Numbers, as much as science, can be manipulated to support almost any argument you want to make.
And it carries a big manipulative punch for being “data-driven” and “scientific” (you know as they say… Numbers don’t lie).

Quote: A well-wrapped statistic is better than Hitler’s “big lie” it misleads, yet it cannot be pinned on you.


no logo book cover

By N. Klein
Summary |Amazon

I still can’t fathom how underappreciated this pearl is.

Or, sometimes, how over-hyped it’s been.

Actually, I know why: “No Logo” presented itself as the theoretical and intellectual foundation of the anti-globalization movement.

And of course, it’s been later usurped by the left and radical left as their own manifesto (I know that well as a protesting, “no global”, clueless teenager with a dyed faux-hawk who, of course, hadn’t even read the book).

However, let’s look at the ideas independently of politics.

And “No Logo” is the best book I have ever read to describe and explain the immense power and influence that brands and marketing exert on the psyches of easily impressionable minds.

Brands are the new myths.
And they become a conduit for self-actualization and to advertise one’s own personality to the world.
And who cares if they cost more?
People are very willing to shell out 10x the value of a product to express and defend “who they are” (see Family Guy brilliantly spoofing this phenomenon).

Later on Simon Sinek writes something similar but more brand-friendly in his popular “Start With WHY“.

Power Nugget: turn your product into a personal statement, & people will overpay you to signal their virtue

The capitalistic ethos of “freedom of choice” masks the true and almost boundless manipulative power of the best brands.

No Logo not only helps you understand the power of marketing and brands, but also to free yourself from their yoke.


10. Secrets of Power Negotiating

secrets of power negotiating

by R. Dawson
Summary | Kindle

The power dynamics at the negotiation table can make you rich.

Or poor.

And that’s why you better learn the power moves of the best negotiators.
Lest you are going to pay them to teach you in real time: with the money you leave on the table during the negotiation.

This is by far the best book on power negotiation techniques.
Also read:

Power Nugget: beware of any negotiator who appeals to ethics. He’s most likely trying to manipulate you

Don’t negotiate anything worthwhile before learning the tricks of the trade (and the power dynamics of negotiations).

QuoteIf we can do that for you, what can you do for us


9. 48 Laws of Power

the 48 laws of power

by R. Greene
Summary | Amazon

Here’s a book that doesn’t need any intro.

The net effect of “The 48 Laws of Power” has probably been to make those who crave power to have even less of it.

Why?

Because to get the book it’s crucial that readers are able to contextualize the laws within a deeper understanding of social dynamics and power dynamics.

Without basics of social skills and emotional intelligence “The 48 Laws of Power” doesn’t add much value.

And without context the laws by themselves are meaningless.
Funny stories and power anecdotes at best and, at worst, confusing and counterproductive.

Here is an example of a question that I got asked more than once:

wrong way to apply the laws of power
Some readers believe the “laws” are cast in stone, without context or exceptions

And here is an example of someone without basic social skills who’s probably behaving like an awkward weirdo (mis)applying the “laws” out of context:

example of applying the 48 laws of power
One of the many nonsense questions asked on the subreddit “The 48 Laws of Power”

That being said, for those who have a sufficiently developed social and emotional intelligence, “The 48 Laws of Power” is great.

Also equally good from Greene is “33 Strategies of War“. I liked this one even more actually, but it applies more to war, and less to

Power Nugget: Appeal to self-interest

Self-interest is the currency that makes the world go around

Appeal to self-interest is one of the most significant -and easily forgotten- laws (see freeloaders-approaches).

Quote: Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less.


8. The Psychology of Leadership 

the new psychology of leadership

By A. Haslam
Summary | Amazon

Leadership is power.

And true power requires leadership and influence over others.

And “The Psychology of Leadership” is the best book on leadership, bar none.
All other leadership books look like children’s books in comparison.

However, similar to “I’m OK – You’re OK“, this is a heavy read.
So to apply this information, see:

Power Nugget: Great Leaders Know Psychology -& Manipulation-

Persuasive leaders are not different or special like most people think.
But they are more power-aware and power skilled than most.

Quote: Just as politics is too important to leave only to politicians, so too leadership is far too important a matter to be left only to leaders.


7. The Art of Seduction

the art of seduction book cover

by R. Greene
Summary | Amazon

Greene again, for the third time.

How not surprising, eh? 🙂

To me, “The Art of Seduction” is his best work, and it’s also the only book on seduction of this list.

In spite of not being the best when it comes to seduction efficiency in the modern world, it’s a great book to understand how sexuality can help accrue power.

“The Art of Seduction” is the deepest treaty on seduction psychology -including dark psychology– I have ever read.

But it’s not just sleeping around.
This one goes further deep into “social seduction”, being helpful to social charmers as well.

You might want to integrate it with “Ho-Tactics” and “A Gold-Digger Guide“.

Power Nugget: Seduction Is A Game of Psychology

“Being yourself”, vulnerabilities and all, is for contract-style partnerships.
True seduction is about fantasy and idealization.

Quote: Your greatest power in seduction is your ability to turn away, to make others come after you, delaying their satisfaction


6. Seduction University

by L. Buffalmano
Overview

Seduction University replaces the previous book entry in this list with a full course.

While the previous “Dating Power Dynamics” was slightly more theoretical and focused on the power dynamics between the sexes, Seduction University is a complete system that leverages those same power principles to achieve unprecedented dating success.

Power Nugget: Dating Is A Balance Of Competition & Collaboration, Dominance & Sweetness

  1. Each gender has been evolutionarily programmed to swindle the opposite sex based on what the opposite sex wants the most.

That’s why women spend more time wearing makeup: because men value beauty. And that’s why men spend more money on cars and watches and are more likely to lie about their jobs: because women want successful men.

2. each gender has been evolutionarily programmed to force or cajole the opposite sex to provide what they need the most

That’s why women are so good at controlling relationships: to secure his resources. 
And that’s why it’s mostly men who hide their mates: from a genetic point of view, faithfulness is more important to men.

Quote: By learning the darker side of human nature, we can all create more light.
For ourselves, for our partners, and for the world.


5. The Wisdom of Psychopaths

the wisdom of psychopaths book cover

by K. Dutton
Summary | Amazon

Consider this #3 position as the “psychopaths’ pack”.

But first, let’s address the obvious controversy.
How can you say we should learn from psychopaths? 

So just follow me for a second:

  • Question: Who should you learn power from?
  • Answer: Doesn’t it make sense to learn power, dominance, and manipulation from those who live for power and see everyone as pawns to be manipulated for pleasure and selfish ends?

It does make sense, right? 
And as Dutton explains, psychopaths aren’t all serial killers like some (ignorant) folks imagine. 
Some psychopaths are functioning members of society, and some of them are very good at reaching the top of society (and if you hadn’t noticed, Trump has many traits of a sociopath).
Enter, the literature on sociopathy and psychopathy.

There is a lot to learn here.
Especially when it comes to power, Machiaveliannism, and games people play.

But we don’t want you to become an antisocial deviant who takes value away from others, so also from Dutton check out:

And also good on psychopath mindsets:

  • The Psychopath’s Whisperer: goes into some interest prison power dynamics and games
  • Emotional Vampires: how different personality disorders take value while seeking power and attention
  • Psychopath Free: unscientific, but a great first-hand account of how some psychopaths (emotionally) victimize their relationship partner
  • Confessions of a Sociopath: an actual sociopath shares the mindsets, attitudes and games of those who seek power without conscience to stop them

Power Nugget: Learn To Spot & Deal With Dark Triad Men, Or Lose At Their Hands

Mild levels of psychopathy can be helpful in life.
And you can learn how to use and leverage certain psychopathic traits to more easily achieve success in life

Quote: There are two things that rises at the top: the cream, and the scum.


4. The Selfish Gene

by R. Dawkins
Summary | Amazon

Unexpected entry, right?

If you are surprised, you haven’t yet developed a holistic mindset around power.
Power permeates all facets of life, both on the outside and within us.
And of course, it runs much deeper than our conscious mind, too.

“The Selfish Gene” operates at that deeper level of power that most people miss out on.

“The Selfish Gene”, here as a representative of the evolutionary psychology, explains how our genes can have us on a rail system.

We can barely budge that they get us back on course.
But here is the potential issue with it: it’s their course.

Your genes have shaped our drives and urges not for us, but for themselves.

And until we learn what that programming is, the selfish genes have total power over us.

But if you learn about the selfish gene’s programming, you can understand where that railing system takes and, if you don’t like it, change it or transcend it.
And that’s the first step to gaining power over ourselves and our world.

The Selfish Gene is about power of choice.

Further Reading:

Understanding our evolutionary psychology is also the foundation of any self-development effort.
Any improvement must start with self-awareness, and that begins with our innate programming.

After that, you can then move to good books on psychology, mindfulness and general self-help, all of which will help you gain power over yourself.

Power Nugget: Your Genes Are Your #1 Master

Your selfish genes have a program in store for you. 

And you may or may not agree with that program. But sure as hell, it wasn’t designed to make you happy or fulfilled. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t even designed with your best interest in mind.

The only way to upset that program and gaining a foothold of power over yourself (and the world around) is to understand what that program is all about.

Quote: Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to do.


3. Underboss

underboss book cover

By Peter Maas
Summary

Another unexpected book on this list.

Why here, why so high?

Because it’s one thing it’s to read about theories and strategies, and it’s a very different thing to read how power strategies are applied in real-life, and what their results are.

And this book is all about power and strategies.

As Sammy Gravano said in his interview with Diane Sawyer:

We played chess. And he lost.

Salvatore Gravano

That “chess game” was a game for money, fame, power… And one’s own life.

About the main protagonist, well… Some people say Gravano is a stone-cold killer, and a psychopath.
I can’t make a diagnosis, and he’s not a guy to role model.

But he’s definitely a guy to learn from.
He’s obviously power-driven, ruthless, and also smart and Machiavellian.

Now put a guy like that in an organization, the mafia, that is all about power and Machiavellianism, and you get a gem of a book to learn about power dynamics and strategies -as well fatal mistakes you better avoid-.

This is all rather extreme, of course.
Most people reading here aren’t going to be joining the mafia. But what works and doesn’t work in extreme environments is often the same of what works and doesn’t work in more everyday situations, just more obvious, and with graver consequences.
Thus, extreme environments can provide great learning opportunities.

To learn from “Underboss” you sometimes need to read between the lines to understand the dynamics, strategies, and mistakes. So it’s more for advanced folks. But the review on this website can help you in that direction.

Also similar and equally good are:

Quote: “I’ll talk to Zuvito”, said my father. “Zuvito?” I think. “Old man Zuvito? What good’s he? He’s a frail little old guy. I’m a kid, I’m with a gang, my thing is to fight with fits. I don’t know Cosa Nostra. But that really opened my appetite to know more about Zuvito, what made him so feared. Boy, I thought, wasn’t it something to be that physically unimposing and still have that kind of power?


2. Power: Why Some People Have It – and Others Don’t

power by Jeffrey Pfeffer book cover

by Jeffrey Pfeffer
Summary | Amazon

Power is a fantastic overview of power and power dynamics.

Pfeffer mostly deals with power in business and organizations, and the strategies tailored to career advancement.
But because there are so few great resources on power, and because Pfeffer did such a good job, Power also happens to be one of the best books on power, period.

Power Nugget: You Can’t Stay Out Of It. Play The Game, Or Lose By Default

Power dynamics and politics are everywhere because they’re inherent to any social animal like we humans are.

People interacting with each other naturally form hierarchies, and since the people who want to climb those outnumber the positions on top, we’re bound to compete.

Albeit you may decide not to compete, you cannot call yourself out of politics, competition, and power dynamics without paying a price.
The price of lingering to the bottom -or of losing your position to a more aggressive or smarter competitor, often out of power ignorance-.

Quote: seek power as if your life depends on it. Because it does


1. Power University

logo of power university, the best course on power

by L. Buffalmano
Course Intro

Power University is this website’s flagship course.

And albeit I’m not a big fan of plugging, this was a case of “either I put here, and at N.1, or I’d lie”.
At least, I’d lie to myself because I believe that not it belongs here.

Power University contains all the best information from all the books in here, and many more (plus research, video analyses, examples, and the author’s insights).

It’s not the type of book to take with you on the beach.

Power University is more like training than simply reading.

On the other hand, those who are cool with putting in some work will understand how to accrue and keep power better than 99% of people ever will.

It also includes a meta-summary of all the best self-development books to curate the mindsets and mental aspects of self-empowerment (Ultimate Power).

Quote: Does power corrupt? Yes, it really does a number on those who don’t have it


Absentees & Former Entries

Removed:

Money is power, but we didn’t include any books on how to make money as that has its own list -plus, there is nothing truly reliable on amassing large sums of money-.
Billion Dollar Whale is a good read though to understand how large sums of money affect power and politics.

You might notice that some popular classics are missing.

We also left out titles such as “How to Win Friends” -basic social skills, not power-, “Propaganda” -great, but there are more scientifically sound resources today, and “Games People Play” -tactical level and mostly concerning turkeys and low-power people-.

We also didn’t include self-help entries such as “Meditations“,  “Mindset” not because mental empowerment doesn’t matter, but because we went for a stricter definition of “power” here.
Also, all the best self-development information is summarized in “Ultimate Power”, which is part of the bonus material of “Power University”. So it’s also included in the #1. entry on this list.

There are also no books on relationship power dynamics.
And that’s because I haven’t found any that are really good.
Previously this list included “Why Does He Do That?“, a book on men who seek power and control over women. However, that book is too specific, and a better overview of relationship power dynamics is in “Power University” and “Seduction University”.

5 thoughts on “The 15 Best Books On Power”

    1. Lucio Buffalmano

      Thank you, Adrian!
      I will make a few additions and changes to it soon. I have read a couple of workplace power-dynamic books with some really top-notch content.
      Cheers!

  1. Yeah, of course ! One more thing is that “Best health and nutrition books” link does not work except showing “Not found, error 404” ! Would you be open minded to fix that. ?

    P.S. Waiting for your paperback edition of “Dating Power Dynamics” also.

  2. Lucio, I strongly recommend that you write books on Social Power and make them available as paperback edition.

    1. Lucio Buffalmano

      Hey Nahid, thank you, that’s something that might be in the cards eventually.
      I still consider myself in “studying mode” though. I got a big personal beef with authors who write books with shallow information or re-hashed stuff just so they can say “I’m a published author” :).
      I usually go ebook, do you prefer paperback?

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