The 48 Laws of Power

A review of Robert Greene's book - HALF a millennium ago, Florentine philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli tried to codify "the nature of power". His scholarly disquisition Il Principe - The Prince - was subsequently denounced as the devil's work. Variously banned and burned, it has nevertheless survived as a classic guide for power strategists, while its author's name has become enshrined in dictionaries as a synonym for "cunning, amoral and opportunistic". It's moot whether the latest entrant in the "secrets of power" lists will linger linguistically, but American author Robert Greene has aroused some passion with his recently released book, The 48 Laws of Power (Hodder). For Greene, a graduate of classic studies and "a dedicated history nut", the exercise began as a plus ca change fascination. He was inspired, he says, by the "behind the arras-stabbing antics" he witnessed while working in "the scheming world" of the Fabrika art school in Venice in 1995. The naked ploys for ascendancy he saw there were, he realised, exactly those that had been played out throughout history. So he decided to trawl the histories of both the powers behind the throne and the powers that be (or have been) to compile his compendium, which he modestly describes as "the ultimate encyclopedia on the subject".
The 48 Laws of Power - a review of Robert Greene's book
The Laws
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
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 Perfect
Law 47 Do not go Past the Mark you Aimed for; In Victory, Learn when to Stop
Law 48 Assume Formlessness