The 48 laws of Power by Robert Greene
There are books which were written a thousand years ago, but are still relevant today. The 48 laws of power is a book written recently which will be read thousands of years from now. Robert Greene is a weird person. He had a tough time in life working a lot of odd jobs in Hollywood, where he has experienced power games in action. He reads a lot about history, warfare and power. His knowledge of history and his experiences have helped him understand what people do to achieve and extend their power and influence. According to him, nothing much has changed over thousands of years in the way people have behaved to achieve and retain power. Robert has carefully observed a pattern followed by all the powerful people in history. It is the same pattern which continues into today’s powerful people in politics, business, sports etc. This book explains these patterns in the form of 48 laws which one needs to learn and practise to accomplish power.
The book is an expose of what happens in every single human environment. Humans by nature want power. They want to have a degree of control over their destiny and circumstances. Across history, one can find strong characters like Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Talleyrand, Napoleon, Louis XIV and others who have accomplished inspiring milestones in the quest of power. Robert has put in a lot of research effort to uncover the secrets of such great people in history and presents it to us in a refined fashion in this book.
The book is organised in an excellent manner- each chapter talks about a law of power and there are 48 of those. Each law is a pattern that is observed in history, explained using a case study. Each law starts of with a few lines of description and then details a story where one can observe and learn the law in action. Great people in history- kings, generals, ministers, queens, business masters, artisans etc make the characters of the stories as observed in history. After the story, an interpretation is given to help us understand the law in its context. It is backed by the keys to power which describes how the law can be manipulated to become powerful. To help us remember the law, an image is created in our mind. Finally there is a reversal statement, which tells us where not to apply the law. Each chapter is accompanied by fables and short stories as side notes which illustrate the law.
The book is manipulative. It would probably have no value in an ideal world. It is a very powerful book that has the potential to mess with one’s morals. It brings out the cunningness and ruthlessness that has been followed by men of power. If you follow these laws as described in the book, you would be powerful in any disciple you follow. Through the lights of history, it puts forth the understanding of human nature. With this understanding, one can use these laws to manipulate people and take advantage of them. It enables one to achieve control over destiny and circumstances if morality is kept aside and the laws are applied.
If I were to pick a few of my favourite chapters, and try to give you a brief of it, that might help you in understanding the style of the book. Law number 10 states- “Avoid the unlucky and the unhappy”. He tells the story of Lola Montez, a dancer who seduced great men and left them in ruin. Lola ruined the life of every man she spent time with, including a high profile media person, the king of Bavaria, an English soldier and an American man. The law urges us to stay away from people like Lola who are unlucky and unhappy. Such people are always crying, always complaining, and are characterised by too much of drama. I personally liked the fortieth law that says –“Despise the free lunch”. What comes for free is often tied up with a hidden obligation. What is worth is worth paying for. He says that we should be lavish with our money and keep circulating it, for generosity is a magnet for power.
In other laws the book outlines the stories of con artist Yellow Weil kid, art trader Joseph Duveen, Queen Elizabeth, Ivan the terrible, and a number of stories from China. These stories bring out the manipulation techniques used by great brains. The task at hand might be either cheat people off their money or to make a high profile sale, to stay in power or to achieve an upper hand in warfare. If you need to get up close and personal with the many techniques to accomplish your thirst for power, you need to read this book. Reading this book gives you the same clarity and understanding of thousands of years of history. It will help you in using the laws followed by a whole variety of people in history to get power. You need to be aware of such laws when people play them on you.
I have been in circumstances where power games have been played. The understanding of these laws has certainly made me clever. I am put in circumstances where I need to keep aside my morality and see my benefits. This book has certainly helped me understand human nature better and utilise them for my benefit.
Morality is a relative thing. It cannot be generalised. So you can define your level of morality and read this book. If you have low morals, you will use this book to manipulate people and achieve power and control. If you have high morals and play by the rules, you will be aware of the power games people play and take steps of caution. Either way you will be benefited from spending your time through the pages of this book. Robert Greene’s books are well researched books. You should read them because of its usefulness in the present context. Since much about human nature hasn’t changed in a thousand years, this book will still be relevant in a thousand years.
30th April 2017