Thoughts on The 48 Laws of Power

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene in essence is a modernized and expanded version of Machiavelli’s The Prince. My interest in it stemmed from the potential usefulness and application these laws could have in my life.

Although several of the laws supply useful lessons for the ambitious, hardworking, and honest individual, most of them advocate a level deceit and cunning far beyond what most people could comfortably put into practice. This is fine, of course, if you operate in the upper echelons of power as a military general, politician, or business executive. For the rest of us without vast amounts of wealth and influence already, advice like use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim (Law 12), crush your enemy totally (Law 15), and keep others suspended in terror (Law 17), are impractical.

It’s not surprising that most laws involve violence, deceit, and cunning, as the lessons are drawn from the histories of kings, emperors, military generals, and con men. The book was a pleasant read but wasn’t very useful beyond entertainment purposes. Despite this, there were several laws I found interesting and practical:

  • Never outshine the master (Law 1)
  • Guard your reputation with your life (Law 5)
  • Avoid the unhappy and the unlucky (Law 10)
  • Concentrate your forces (Law 23)
  • Despise the free lunch (Law 40)

P.S. This book will be revisited after I’ve amassed vast wealth and power ;)

Written on May 27, 2020