I recently read, or rather, listened to The 48 Laws of Power on audible. My friend had the physical book and I shuddered at the length in print form, but love long books for my listening pleasure in the car. Enjoy history and powerful quotes? This book is packed full of both.
I must warn you though, most people either love or hate this book. If followed directly, it may turn you into a charlatan, or a politician.
Robert Greene and Joost Elffers have distilled three thousand years of the history of power into 48 essential laws by drawing from the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Carl Von Clausewitz and also from the lives of figures ranging from Henry Kissinger to P.T. Barnum.
Some laws teach the need for prudence (“Law 1: Never Outshine the Master”), others teach the value of confidence (“Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness”), and many recommend absolute self-preservation (“Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally”). Every law, though, has one thing in common: an interest in total domination. In a bold and arresting two-color package, The 48 Laws of Power is ideal whether your aim is conquest, self-defense, or simply to understand the rules of the game.
Powerful Quotes from the book (There are so many)
“person who cannot control his words shows that he cannot control himself, and is unworthy of respect.”
― Robert Greene,
“Remember: The best deceivers do everything they can to cloak their roguish qualities. They cultivate an air of honesty in one area to disguise their dishonesty in others. Honesty is merely another decoy in their arsenal of weapons.”
― Robert Greene,
“The key to power, then, is the ability to judge who is best able to further your interests in all situations. Keep friends for friendship, but work with the skilled and competent.”
― Robert Greene,
What I like about this book:
Historical significance. This is packed with examples from history, quotes, and famous writings. Even if you are not interested in “playing the game”, looking at history in this point of view is quite enticing. If you want to find ways to improve your life as a predator, this book will work for you too.
This is not exactly self-help but applying these tactics with historical backing could really set you apart. To a degree, I believe in this book. I think it is important to take the life lessons from history and apply them to your situation. It is also important to understand how those in power achieve it, and how they maintain. Simply ignoring power plays can leave you feeling stranded and alone. At the very least, one can find a way to watch out for the traps of others.
What I don’t like about this book:
This is for the lone wolf. Yes, it does call for socialization to achieve power, but it does not promote the aspects of teamwork. In this light, everyone is using each other. Not exactly team friendly, right? I’m not always a shark to the people I’m trying to collaborate with. Should I be?
Even though I have the ability to manipulate situations, this book does not address a group mindset unless you are the top dog. You have to be willing to assert yourself and bend the will of others to achieve your goals. What about common goals? What about teammates?
Robert Greene has several books of this genre and over 2000 reviews with 4.6 stars on Amazon for this book alone. Must be doing something right.
Research, I imagine all of his books take years to come to fruition and copious amounts of time spent between other people’s pages. Hats off to him and his work. While I don’t want to read this kind of book every day, I will be reading/listening to more of his work with my Audible credits in the future.
How it applies to writing:
This book is well-written and the narration is gold. This spawned some of my writing marathons the past few weeks that had nothing to do with the content of the book. It is always good to branch out and read another genre, especially a work that is crafted in this way. Might have been the narrator, but the work provoked ideas and a writing fury in me that had nothing to do with the book.
Since I have my own narrator that talks to me too much, it’s always nice when I get a change in voice for the better.
Also, as we are all now Authorpreneurs, it is important to keep a business sense as you go out there in the world. Nothing has to be taken literally, but honing in on some aspects of this book will surely keep you from getting ripped off by the book marketing charlatans, of which there are many.
A hilarious, illustrated summary of the 48 Laws can be found here on YouTube
A blog-style cheat sheet can be found here on Sam Parr’s blog
A link to buy the book on Amazon here