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The 48 Laws of Power

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  87,741 ratings  ·  4,480 reviews
This amoral, cunning, ruthless, and instructive book synthesizes the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Carl Von Clausewitz with the historical legacies of statesmen, warriors, seducers, and con men throughout the ages.
Paperback, 452 pages
Published September 1st 2000 by Penguin (Business) (first published 1998)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  87,741 ratings  ·  4,480 reviews

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Josh Steimle
Nov 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
I think this is a horrible book. Written well enough, sure, whatever, but just so very, very wrong, unless you have no morals. At least with Machiavelli you could make the excuse that he wasn't so much advocating what he said, but merely describing reality. This guy is advocating evil. As I read it I couldn't help wondering how many politicians actually think this way.

If I ever met someone who actually liked this book and wanted to live their life according to it, I would never hire that person,
Jan 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
i learned to be eviiiilll with this book....haha actually this book made me realize how shady people can be. Plus how smart you and ambitious you should be about succeeding in life. You got to stand out in this world. If you roll with the bunches you'll become lost. You always have to have a good reputation or if you have a certain reputation you better use it to your advantage (damn im evil hahaha). This book will expose and teach you alot about the real world. One of my first books i really re ...more
Shang Shang
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When it comes to morality and ethics, people are used to thinking in terms of black and white. Conversely, "The 48 Laws of Power" deals primarily with the gray areas. At the risk of sounding melodramatic and trite, I say that most of the Laws covered in this book can be used for great evil or for great good. It depends on the reader. There is really nothing wrong with most of the Laws.

Each Law comes with true stories from history about those who successfully observed it and those who foolishly o
Apr 02, 2016 rated it liked it
If the author is evil for writing I evil for enjoying it?
Quincy Miller
Feb 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book belongs in the category of sad-but-true. For those who have a moral objection to the amoral approach of the authors presentation, I understand your feelings, but I think you miss the point. No matter how we feel about the dubious power plays that have occurred throughout history and that occur in our contemporary private and public lives, the fact is that they exist. Here are 48 approaches to power that you will either attempt to use or you will experience them being used against you a ...more
Aug 28, 2011 rated it did not like it
I hated every word of this manual for the soulless. It's a perfect example of exactly what's wrong with Big Pharma, big business, Wall Street, and in short capitalism as it's currently practiced. This book, which is kinda-sorta a synthesis of many previous Me First directives (Machiavelli leaps to mind), is a handbook on how to fuck over everyone you come in contact with, in order for you to get "ahead" and "succeed". It'd be awesome for sociopaths and wanna-be-CEOs. It plunged me into despair. ...more
Nov 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wpww, favorites
“Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit, because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.”
— Tacitus, C. (A.D. 55-120)

"...a woman who is interested in a man wants to see that other women are interested in him, too. Not only does that give him instant value, it makes it all the more satisfying to snatch him from their clutches." -Robert Greene

"Everything in seduction however, depends on suggestion. You cannot announce your intentions or reveal them directly in words."

"By saying
May 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
For all the readers and reviewers who don't "get" or like this book, here's what you are not getting: It is fact. This book is not teaching anyone to be amoral. It is teaching you how people really are in the real world. It separates the behaviors and tactics of people in history who have succeeded and failed into the 48 "Laws". It is an explanation of power in the only way it can be expressed.
If you don't want to be a deceitful heartless prick who does whatever he can to whomever all for perso
Dave Garnand
Jan 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
I completely misunderstood what I was about to read when I got this book. I foolishly thought it was going to be a strongly researched and thoughtful historical investigation into the nature of power with 48 astute observations similar to Good to Great or other thoughtful research.

This books is probably written for and is appealing to the shallow and overconfident who seek to take more from the world than they give by using the perpetually infantile "well, they're doing it!."

If you are committe
Jun 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Did you ever notice how sometimes the right book comes along at the right time? I bought this book way back in '01, almost as a joke--it was so politically incorrect, but mostly for the stellar historical references-- remember, he who forgets the past is destined to repeat it. Little did I realize this tome was to become one of the most dog-eared and spine-cracked books in my collection. Initially, I was trying to make sense of the havoc that schemers and liars were wreaking upon me. I used to b ...more
Amir Tesla
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A book of wisdom, a compilation of tactics, hordes of to-avoid mistakes, rich set of brilliant tested ideas for thriving.

Although many of the rules might seem devilish, they'd better be considered as lessons to be aware of in perilous social life.

This book is unspeakably well written. Everyone can definitely benefit having it read for its lessons are ones that have been tested and utilized throughout the history by bold figures.

I really enjoyed this book and learned an intense amount of knowl
Dec 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
The book is little more than a collection of conflicting laws that are supported only by anecdotal evidence. Good for entertainment and historical vignettes but no real substance or takeaways here.
Jul 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
This is like a how-to manual for sociopaths, and is two parts hilariously out-of-touch with the modern world, to one part "practical advice that you should know anyway if you've ever interacted with anyone."

Every one of the 48 rules of power has an example of "obeying the rules: great success" and "didn't obey the rule, probably died a miserable failure". All of these examples are generally from like 900AD and involve politics from the 4th dynasty of Burma or some stupid irrelevant shit like tha
Marcus Chatman
May 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Let me start by stating that I was EXTREMELY skeptical about this book, though I had heard so much about it prior to reading it (I don't know, maybe it was the mood I was in). My first thoughts while reading the preface were "Oh god...please don't let this be another book written from the point of view of an arrogant, self centered, self absorbed, narrow minded individual who only sees the world from his end of the spectrum, and believes that without his personal philosophy the rest of us mere m ...more
Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've seen many people disliking this book because it's evil. What they do not understand that this book is meant to be evil. And in its execution, it was spectacular. This book is a classic.

I think the world is a horrible place because good people don't understand evil scheme, or can't plot evil scheme when its necessary to fight the evil. As evil minds are generally ruthless in executing their schemes, they win most of the time. To fight it, you must play dirty when necessary.

That being said,
Oct 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is really an unique book that serves both as a manual as well as a reading of the history of power and how it was used through the ages. I imagine most read this book to get insight into business transactions or self-help - but what is fascinating are the examples that are used to show certain aspects of obtaining or getting power. That and Robert's other two books "The Art of Seduction" and the War one are important studies on the nature of those subject matters.

Really unique and interesti
S Kasm
Mar 24, 2007 rated it it was ok
There are some engaging principles here that make you consider the principle of power from different vantage points -- This book is for those who already have a strong moral center as you find that the author meanders and introduces you to novel approaches to accquiring power --- often times at the expense of values. In many ways, this book is Machiavellian in scope and re-modifies many of the same principles in The Prince for our more modern age. If you're looking for a short-cut to get to the ...more
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Also posted on my blog: i'mbookedindefinitely

In the confines of my sociological classes, where my known companions were Locke, Hobbes, Machiavelli, Rousseau, and Mills, saying that I loved this book would perhaps even amount to an affront to the value I have assigned to it back then.

When I entered law school and got oriented in the ways of the law, the cunning, ruthless, and decisive ways of the legal world, I appreciated this book.

It was practical and in these present days it simply made sens
carrie beth
Jun 18, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommended to carrie beth by: Barter
I couldn't stomach this book so to be fair I only finished about a quarter of it so I can't speak for the whole thing. A friend recommended it to me. It seemed to justify selfishness on these somewhat flawed ethics-based arguments. I think it's a recommended reading for business majors. Some folks love it. A good book to check out on power that takes a somewhat different approach is Thich Naht Hanh's "The Art of Power". ...more
Mar 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Aspiring Ruthless Power Mongers/Everyone Else
This is Machiavelli updated for the everyman (and woman). Robert Greene is educated as all get out and he puts it out there for everyone to see. Really, the only way you can make arguments for the positions he takes is by citing historical example, (i.e. the laws of power are immutable and unchanging and here's all my examples throughout history to explicate that). Machiavelli really only relied on his own times (Renaissance Italy which of course was populated with characters like Cesare Borge w ...more
Michael Austin
Oct 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Robert Greene has done an excellent job of distilling how power works at the macro level, among great generals, statesmen, larger-than-life seducers, and even top CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. But most of us do not experience power in the way that is presumed by these examples. Most of us experience a much more fluid, shifting, and consensus-based form of power among people whom we must work with over and over again over many years and cannot afford to treat as disposable. This book is of limi ...more
May 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
Definitely read this book if you're planning on being a war general soon. Or if you want to destroy your "enemies."

If you want to be happy, probably this book is useless for you. Most of the models of power ended up being killed or miserable.

This book is pretty useful--anyone who doesn't see it as satire or rates it as 5 stars, you should probably avoid in your daily life--they think you're tool and are incapable of human love.
Samarth Agnihotri
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
•I believe that in this era there are a lot of people waiting eagerly to take advantage of you and if you are not clever enough, if you don't have a sense of the real world enough then you will get crushed by this world and god knows what else can happen.

•This is one of my personally favourite books. A bit long but with loads of information. I recommend this book to everyone. It contains some dark laws too but at the end of the day it's your choice that how you wanna cope with a situation.

Jul 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book does not get two stars because I am offended by its contents, or naive enough to think that this isn't how some people function. This book gets two stars simply because it's boring, though it does have it's funny moments.

I picked up 48 Laws of Power with no knowledge about it at all. It was an eBook lent to me by a friend, and when I started reading it- I thought it was a joke. I found myself laughing out loud at this "exaggerated" take on the recognizable actions of people I had prev
Jim Razinha
Oct 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book is funny, but not as much as the Amazon and Goodreads reviews. You have the people who took it seriously and gave it five stars. And then you have the people who took it seriously and gave it one star. Lighten up, Francis!

I didn't take it seriously, but instead took it for what it was: a bunch of unsourced anecdotes (a BUNCH of anecdotes...multiple per "law") draped in the author's interpretations of applicability. Okay, he has a "selected" bibliography, but every anecdote is just pre
Ahmad Hathout
Sep 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book is a manual for that person who wants to be an Egoistic Bastard.
Kells Next Read
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Actual Ratings 4.5

Surprisingly I really enjoyed this book. I listened to it via audio and I absolutely loved the narrator.
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
The reason for giving this book 4 stars is for the beautiful way it is written. It is very thorough (even though very long) and I was amazed by all the real life stories Greene gives to emphasize his concepts. I don't agree with many theories he states, and I didn't understand some of them (given my very passive character), but I learned a lot of history nonetheless. Apparently Greene gave this book a lot of effort and a lot of research was put into making this book what it is. I recommend it ju ...more
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: human-dev, politics
Power is a social game, and you have to master it. It is a game in which there is no exit. The better you master it,the better and the more successful person you will be. Smartness is about not to opear too power hungry and in the same time to have no power over people and events.
To help us master the keys of power, the book provides 48 laws. Truthfully, the book is very well-organized and clearly aimed. The book's methodology is as follow:
- Observance of the law,in which it contai
If you want to be known as a psychopath, let this be your bible.
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There is more than one author by this name on Goodreads.

Best-selling author and public speaker, Robert Greene was born in Los Angeles. He attended U.C. California at Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he received a degree in classical studies. He has worked in New York as an editor and writer at several magazines, including Esquire; and in Hollywood as a story developer and

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When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control. Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinxlike. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.”
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