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4.3 out of 5 stars164
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 26 September 2004
First and foremost, this book is immense fun to read, because every point is exemplified with true stories from history - stories of the success wrought by adhering to each 'law' and, even more amusingly, stories of the consequences that followed from breaking the 'law' (a great example is the story of Louis XIV and his finance minister, Nicolas Fouquet. Voltaire is quoted at the end of this passage: "When the evening began, Fouquet was at the top of the world. By the time it had ended, he was at the bottom"). Why is seeing the powerful fall flat on their faces so heartening?
I have a slight reservation about its style. It is written in a way as if to advise the reader on how to attain power, rather like a PMA book. I took this style initially to be intended as tongue-in-cheek. Whether or not that was the intention (and I think it was), it definitely should be seen that way. The author does stress the point at the beginning that power is a game. The implication is that, as with all games, one should not become attached to the idea of power. He makes the point that having no power is misery, but that having power and not having peace of mind is pointless. Power therefore cannot be an end in itself, as many powerful figures have failed to discover.
I have noted that some reviewers do not agree with all the 'laws'. I don't feel able to comment as, so far, I have just been enjoying the idea that 'power' can be broken down in this way. If I do find, on reflection (as well as on finishing the book, as I'm barely past the first 100 pages), that I disagree with some of the 'laws' here, I will still have a view on an aspect of power that I wouldn't have otherwise had - in disagreeing with a principle, one makes up one's own. And remember, even the powerful can get it very wrong (poor Nicolas!). However, the author does recognize that there are exceptions to every rule and at the end of each chapter, cites further examples from history that are, what he calls, a 'reversal' of the law.
As well as being entertaining, I have certainly learned practically from this book. I don't think that I will ever view my disagreements with others in the same way again. But it should not be seen as some kind of gospel and therefore taken too rigidly (as one reviewer appears to have done). As I think I have shown, I don't believe the author intended it to be that way anyway. Lightness is the key.
I would love to see more editions of this book with further historical anecdotes. I agree with the person who said they were not particularly interested in history before - this book could really give you a taste for it.
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on 18 February 2007
I can't really fault the book at all.

Robert Greene has established 48 laws of power, and they are all very interesting, powerful and fact based. Throughout the book I feel as if Robert knows completely what he's saying and he's done acres of research.

This book however, is to be taken very carefully. It doesn't seem as if he has written the book to any moral guidelines. If books can have age restrictions on a person buying them, I would definately give this one an 18. I could definately see someone young, greedy or just suggestable obsessing over the book and becoming a pretty immoral person. I believe it takes a certain level of maturity and moral understanding to be aquired in order to not abuse information in the book.

The 48 laws of power, generally focuses around methods you can use and themes you can engrain into your personality, in order to get things. Whilst the book is absolutely brilliant at delivering this, the fact is that if everyone applied all the laws to themselves (or even just a handful), the world would be almost at a standstill... as an example one of the rules is to "Get others to do work for you but always take the credit" - is this really a mode people should follow for the good of the world? If everyone was doing that, there would be no work to take credit for and economies would halt. Imagine a planet full of conmen, what a great place to live that would be... hmmm... not.

Robert Green indicates some key resources he's used and one to mention is the famous "The art of war by sun tzu" - I believe Robert is extremely interested in books like these and he's only gone and made pretty much, a brilliant book himself.

It's a very good buy, for it's purpose. But can you really find true happiness by being powerful? Well, I'll leave that question for you to perhaps answer, but for me, without any doubt at all, the 48 laws of power is an incredible buy.

I hope my opinion has been helpful to you.
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on 20 November 2001
I was brought up, probably like most people, that the right way to treat people is to be nice and pleasant to everyone at all times. Unfortunately, not everyone you come into contact with has similar views.
All too frequently, I have been subjected to behaviour and attitudes from some others that I have not understood or what motivates them. In short, I was naive in some aspects of the way of the world and resulting in my being ineffective far too often for my own good.
Whilst it is good to learn from your mistakes, too often have I made the same mistake again and again.
Life is too short and too complex to learn everything about human interactions, but this is the best book by far that I have read to help 'nice' people to get switched on to the less wholesome aspects of some human behaviour.
I have made the mistake of trying to improve my interactions with people by reading books of a spiritual nature of which there are many.
Whilst I have learnt much from them I have had to accept that I have been laughed at by the more basic and worldly-wise people with whom I have come into contact.
In my opinion, I have 'got wise' many times quicker after reding this book a couple of times than I have done during 20 years of reading the spiritual books. Sad, but true.
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on 18 August 2001
Moralists beware! This is not a book to be compared with the Bible. It is, however, a very well researched and brilliantly written analysis of Machiavellian theory as it has been practiced by famous historical figures.
I personally find such tactics distasteful, yet I am too old to ignore their effectiveness in the modern world. If you find the harsh practicality of this book too much, you should read The Art of Worldly Wisdom by Balthasar Gracian, a 15th -century Spanish Jesuit priest.
On the other hand, if, like me, you were enthralled by Ian Richardson's portrayal of Francis Urquhart in the House of Cards trilogy, then this is the perfect weekend reading for you!
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on 21 December 1999
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It has certainly given me new insights into other people's behaviour and also made me more aware of the signals I send to others. I like to revisit the book when something at work is on my mind and I want to remind myself of the importance of perceptions.
It was obvious the book was written with great skill and much thought to the lay out. One criticism would be that some of the examples (transgressions or observance) dragged a little and I would sometimes skip to the synopsis at the end of the chapter.
Greens insight's into other people's emotionally driven behaviour revealed a significtant understanding of psychology. I like to read a little psychology now and again and found reading Green's book much more informative than some of the dry psychology books on the market.
I would not agree with all the points Green makes, I believe people are good at seeing through Machiavellian characters and I also believe 'integrity' is important. However, Greens analysis is intriguing.
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on 8 November 2005
What is so attractive about this book is the historical examples of each law. The author has not written a self-help manual full of mumbo jumbo, jargon or modern woolly ideas; he has gone through history to demonstrate just how successful power strategies can be, and how people have been engaging in the pursuit of power for centuries. Both the Athenians and the Chinese were past masters at it thousands of years ago.
To balance the successful use of the laws, he also cites examples where the law was not observed, to disasterous results. The main message of the book is that to obtain power you need a plan. Power doesn't just fall into your lap. You need a strategy, a plan of action, patience and lots of nerve.
Oh, and often, a little luck goes a long way, too.
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on 1 December 2004
This book is amoral, hauntingly true and indispensable. It should be on the bookshelf of anyone who aspires to any level of success in any organization or profession. It should not gather dust but should be read regularly, according to a plan - one law a day, for example, absorbed slowly and contemplated deeply. Author Robert Greene draws on a rich variety of sources including books so threatening that they were banned by the ancient Chinese. He cites the memoirs of Machiavelli, various con men and many others who swept aside what ought to be in order to focus on what is. It might seem that anyone who follows all of these laws in their rich, narrative detail will turn out to be a very unpleasant person. That's probably not true. We suspect, in contrast, that the person who masters the laws of power will be extremely pleasant, with winning ways and a knack for likeability, yet awe-inspiring and in control - though not always obviously so. Doesn't that sound tempting?
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on 25 August 2012
I already have the hard cover version for this book along with the concise version. The Concise version is ideal to read what is really needed to read, digest and put into practice each workable law. I used to read the many pop psychology and positive mental attitude books but sadly, they don't really reflect to the harsh realities in society. I think all students of social sciences, law, counselling and members of the armed forces should obtain a copy of the 48 Laws or any of Greenes other valuable books because it applies theory into practice from transferable scenarios in history to the complex everyday social jungle. Some readers mention that parts of the book are repetitave, hence the concise version being an ideal alternative but I think Greene repeats himself to remind the reader about how and why historical leaders can relate to some of the 48 laws. There may be some individuals who have used Greenes books to manipulate and obtain through abusing their own power. The good news though is that the illusion of power from sleight of hand mind games is short lived as the individual who bullies and deceives is found out. I visualise the 48 laws to a game of chess because with each move to capture and incapacitate your opponent, the opponent looks for strategy to block that move. I have used the 48 Laws of Power in tandem with reading and consulting the 'Book of Changes' (I Ching). If some of Greene's Laws are based on historical scenarios involving leaders who learned strategy from chess or even the I Ching, then the reader can also learn from the I Ching on the 48 laws could be applied sensibly. A how to on the interpersonal social dynamics in the real world Greene is in my opinion a true alchemist of today and tomorrows human relationships.
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VINE VOICEon 12 July 2010
I was sceptical of this book but had to buy it as I heard it was a really interesting read! That it was. Morales aside this book can help ensure you get the most out of life. I would not suggest living by all 48 of these laws or else it could backfire and you would end up very lonely but its worth reading to understand how others also may be playing you!
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on 5 January 2001
I borrowed the book yesterday and I want to buy it today. I've looked for advise in getting what I want in my professional life and I found more then I expected in this book.
The book gives a detailed and precise overview of 48 "wisdoms about power". After a short description it gives explanations and very interesting examples (from history) to help you understand each of them. I've studied two wisdoms during the last night and I have to admit this has opened my eyes in directions I would never think of. A must for people who want more in their lives.
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