The 48 Laws of Power Summary

The 48 Laws of Power is a non-fiction book by American author Robert Greene (1998). The book is a New York Times bestseller, selling over 1.2 million copies in the United States; it is popular with prison inmates and celebrities.


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The 48 Laws of Power Summary

The 48 Laws of Power Summary

The 48 Laws of Power maintains that learning how to influence others and have power over them is essential to a person’s success. The 48 laws are each self-contained, featuring examples of historical figures who have transgressed and abided by that particular law. While transgressors have seen their power depleted, observers have enjoyed unparalleled influence over others and events.

A prominent trend amongst the laws is mastering the balance of standing out enough to attract attention, whilst seeming discreet and amenable enough to not be viewed as a threat and thereby eradicated by the more powerful. While Greene’s injunctions to be subtle and bold, congenial and ruthless often contradict each other, the text as a whole shows that power wears “many masks” and keeps “a bag full of deceptive tricks”.

Thus, a reader’s ability to read the situation they find themselves in is paramount, as is their ability to plan and act accordingly. Throughout, the laws emphasize the importance of dissimulation over candor, as Greene views honesty as a “blunt instrument, which bloodies more than it cuts” when it offends others and gives away your character, thereby making you easier to defeat.

Greene ends his book with the paradox that no amount of received wisdom will help you in the present challenge you find yourself in. Instead of aiming to apply the laws of the book or the methods that have led to past triumphs, the reader would be better off immersing themselves in the present moment and tailoring their response to the situation at hand.


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Questions about The 48 Laws of Power

What are the 48 laws of power in order?
1. Never Outshine the Master
2. Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends, Learn How to Use Enemies
3. Conceal Your Intentions
4. Always Say Less Than Necessary
5. So Much Depends on Reputation – Guard It With Your Life
6. Court Attention at All Costs
7. Get Others to Do the Work for You, but Always Take the Credit
8. Make Other People Come to You – Use Bait if Necessary
9. Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument
10. Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and the Unlucky
11. Learn to Keep People Dependent on You
12. Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm Your Victim
13. When Asking for Help, Appeal to the Self-interests of Others, Never to Their Mercy or Gratitude
14. Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy
15. Crush Your Enemy Totally
16. Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor
17. Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability
18. Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself – Isolation is Dangerous
19. Know Who You’re Dealing With – Don’t Offend the Wrong Person
20. Don’t Commit to Anyone
21. Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker – Appear Dumber Than Your Mark
22. Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness Into Power
23. Concentrate Your Forces
24. Play the Perfect Courtier
25. Recreate Yourself
26. Keep Your Hands Clean
27. Create a Cult-like Following by Playing on People’s Need to Believe
28. Enter Action With Boldness
29. Plan All the Way to the End
30. Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless
31. Control the Options: Get Others to Play With the Cards You Deal
32. Play Into People’s Fantasies
33. Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew
34. Be Royal in Your Own Fashion: Act Like a King to Be Treated Like One
35. Master the Art of Timing
36. Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Them is the Best Revenge
37. Create Compelling Spectacles
38. Think as You Like, but Behave Like Others
39. Stir Up Waters to Catch Fish
40. Despise the Free Lunch
41. Avoid Stepping Into a Great Man’s Shoes
42. Strike the Shepherd, and the Sheep Will Scatter
43. Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others
44. Disarm and Infuriate With the Mirror Effect
45. Preach the Need for Change, but Never Reform Too Much at Once
46. Never Appear Too Perfect
47. Don’t Go Past the Mark You Aimed For: In Victory, Learn When to Stop
48. Assume Formlessness.

Is 48 Laws of Power worth reading?
The 48 Laws of Power is a candid and controversial examination of power and its many dynamics. If you want to understand people and ascend in the world, this book is a good starting place. You'll learn about the nature of power, how to acquire it, and the dark ways in which people operate in the world.

Why is the 48 Laws of Power so popular?
For good reason: Much like Machiavelli's treatise, 48 Laws of Power was designed, by and large, to help men navigate their way to the top of the corporate ladder; and much like The Prince, it offers a set of vague rules, strategies and manipulation techniques to attain it.

Which 48 Laws of Power ignore people?
According to Law 36 of the 48 Laws of Power, When faced with an irritating, but minor offense, sometimes the best course is to ignore it. Not responding can be a demonstration of power — a message that it's not worth your interest.

How long to read 48 laws?
The average reader will spend 7 hours and 32 minutes reading this book at 250 WPM (words per minute).

What is the 16 law of power?
According to Law 16 of the 48 Laws of Power, with a strong presence, you attract attention and overshadow everyone else. But if you overdo it and become ubiquitous, people will stop paying attention to you and you'll lose respect and power. This is where absence comes in.

What 48 Laws of Power make it look easy?
According to Law 30 of the 48 Laws of Power, if you make your accomplishments seem effortless, you can generate awe in others and seem powerful. People admire those who perform seemingly impossible feats, especially when they make it look easy.

What does the 48 Laws of Power say about enemies?
Always be alert to potential attacks and thwart them before they happen. Meanwhile, learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations. Then stand aside and let public opinion hang them." Source: Robert Greene's "The 48 Laws Of Power."

Who are the people mentioned in 48 Laws of Power?
Synopsis of The 48 Laws of Power are a distillation of 3,000 years of the history of power, drawing on the lives of strategists and historical figures like Niccolò Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Carl von Clausewitz, Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Kissinger, P.T. Barnum, and Baltasar Gracián.

What is the best revenge in the 48 laws?
36. Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Them is the Best Revenge. The less interest you take in things that irritate you, the more superior you seem. By acknowledging your enemy, you give their existence credibility and, therefore, power.

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