The 48 Laws of Power (non-fiction) by Robert Greene emphasizes the pursuit of power and the various strategies that people have been using for ages to gain power and influence over others. The author compares this competitive atmosphere to that of a royal court where the courtiers compete with one another to rise to power.
Robert Greene is an American author popularly known for his books on strategy, power, and seduction. Greene has written six international bestsellers including The 48 Laws of Power.
This book could be used as a guide for life, a guide to analyze and examine your past based on the 48 laws. The author suggests viewing the pursuit of power as a game where you don’t take things personally or hold grudges.
The book shares the ideas of some of the well-known names from history like Bismarck, Talleyrand, Castiglione, Gracián, Ninon de Lenclos, Casanova and, Machiavelli.
Every law has its own chapter and each chapter/law is split into three parts:
- Observance of the law: It explains what the law is about
- Transgression of the law: Shares the consequences of violating the law
- Reversal: Talks about the instances where a law is not applicable
This book might not be suitable for everyone because to fully grasp the significance of the laws one should have enough life experience to relate to the things mentioned in the book. As you read this book, you’ll notice that you’ll be more attentive while reading a law that you’ve transgressed in the past.
The author encourages the readers to take any measures necessary to attain the heights of power, even if it means sacrificing someone innocent as a scapegoat to cover up their own mistakes (Law 26). This shows that the book values power over morality.
Not all the laws mentioned in the book might be practical in today’s age. Certain strategies might have worked in the past, but an attempt to recreate them once again might not be a wise decision.
Here’s an example: Law 15 asks us to crush our enemies completely, both in body and spirit. But we all know that if we literally started “ruthlessly annihilating our enemies”, there will be consequences.
However, another way to look at the laws that say ‘Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy’, ‘Crush your Enemies Totally’ or use an innocent as a scapegoat is that even though you don’t want to try this on anyone, there are people who live by these strategies. By having an understanding of these laws, you could be wary of such individuals and probably avoid being the victim.
If you’re interested in learning history, you’ll have a great time reading this book as it covers a wide range of historical events spanning back to three thousand years. Most of the historical events mentioned in the book are from ancient China, Renaissance Italy, and Ancient Greece.
All the chapters/laws mentioned in the book are completely independent and follow no hierarchical order. So, the reader is free to start from any random chapter that they wish to read first.
Reading the 48 laws will not make you invincible as life is way more complex and unpredictable. Even if you’ve read this book entirely, there’s a good chance that you’ll be transgressing these laws at some point in your life. But this book could help you introspect your actions and get back on track.
So, if you’re someone that’s curious to know about power dynamics and human nature, then The 48 Laws of Power is for you.
Reviewed By: Neil Jose