This book is followed by controversy and is often given a bad reputation for being a handbook for manipulators, psychopaths and machiavellian. This is true to some extent, but the book is much more than that. It’s a good example of not following the hype, because this is not the book you think it is.
Plenty of the other 48 Law of Power Reviews online either praise the books as some kind of bible for learning how to price power from the cold dead hands of your crushed enemies and others belittle the book as only for those with malicious intentions and an earnest guide to create abhorrent human beings that set out to pillage the weak.
It is, in fact, neither – the book is more akin to an academic study if you wished to harness the flow of power and how to protect yourself against it. Similar to the way a sailing book teaches you to read the wind, waves and the compass; lest you become a hapless victim, ignorant of the way of the world.
Greene teaches the rules of navigating power in almost every meaningful situation in life; business, work, relationships and life. It is a (sometimes blad) hard look at human nature; to be used however, the reader intends it to be used.
Summary- The 48 Laws of Power Review
In short, while I personally believe that this should be on everybody’s list of ‘Books to read for business’, this book is not for everybody. You may have read on Twitter that the book has changed lives and turned the world to gold, but it is unlikely to have that effect for you (at least not right away).
In my personal opinion, this book is indeed one of the most important books that you can read – but not because it contains the holy grail, but because it teaches the rules of the game that we have called life. How you wish to apply those rules is up to you. The book is not a step-by-step guide to dominating everyone and everything you come across, but an academic study of power; how to achieve it, to prevent you from losing it, and to defend yourself against it.
There are some reasons why you should read the book – and others why you should move along. These reasons are detailed in the review below.
Why You Should Read Power
Use Power as Your Sword
Yes, if you wish, there are many laws in this book that help you move through life as a wolf. While it does not directly teach techniques of how to manipulate, coerce or hurt others, the book relates the importance of the ability to be ruthless and cunning in your pursuit to gain power. If power is what you wish to have, then many of the laws will help you understand techniques that will ultimately remove enemies from your way, how to interact with obstacles that block your path to greatness, and how to bend the will of others to your own hands.
Law 17 (Keep others in suspended terror), Law 21 (Be a sucker to catch a sucker) and Law 42 (strike the Shepard and the sheep will scatter) are prime examples of gaining power with force or coercion.
It is clear, however, that being too brutal, ruthless and callous you will ultimately lose power too. We are all humans, and our source of power is other humans. If you abuse these laws which require unsavoury behaviour then they will ultimately backfire and you’ll be subject to the sword of another. It is what differentiates Napoleon from Talleyrand.
This brings me to the next reason why you should read Power; walk softly with a big stick.
Use Power as Your Sheild
There are those who may confuse The 48 Laws of Power as a guide for evil, and therefore believe that this book will pose a risk to humanity. They see that the book is banned in prisons and criticised online, and jump to conclusions about Greene’s intentions behind the book.
It is fear that ultimately distracts them from the real importance of this book – at least in my mind. The laws of power and human nature do not change; I think you should read this book to, at the bare minimum, understand the rules of the game, so that you may avoid being an unwilling victim of the currents of power.
Life without reading a book like Power is akin to playing chess without understanding the game, and meeting somebody with even a very basic grasp of the game. Which do you think will come out with the victory?
Laws 10 (Infection – Avoid the unhappy and unlucky), Law 18 (Don’t Build a Fortress) and Law 19 (Know who you’re dealing with) are all great examples of strategies that will enable you to understand ways to protect yourself against others and to maintain the power you have. They are protective in their nature, rather than an offensive attack on others.
When we advance in life (whether that be professionally, or just mingling among others) it is of utmost importance to be aware of the games we each play and be aware of the pull that power has so we may navigate it in the way we see fits us best; our personality and ultimately what we wish to achieve. It is naive to think you can advance into a management position, own a business or navigates (the brutal world of) parents at playgroup without a few tools in your back pocket.
Whether that be the ability to read the situation, strategise or move on the offensive when the need arises.
An example you could use to further impress the importance of using power as a shield, and why you should read the 48 Laws of Power, is characters such as Andrew Tate. They exist in the world whether we like it or not. Upon Reading the book, it opens Pandora’s box of being able to read people and their actions; Tate follows many of the laws, but law 27 (Play on what peoples need to believe to create a cultlike following), law 28 (Enter actions with Boldness), law 32 ( Play to Peoples Fantasies) and law 34 (Be Royal in your own Fashion: act Like a king and be treated like one) are the most relevant to his rise in power. Much of his representation is a calculated performance, and he is a ‘consummate Machiavelli’ if ever there was one.
The book pulls the curtain up on Oz and much of what our politicians, public figures and enemies do can be easily understood and defended against.
Makes you Think “What Kind Of Person Am I”?
Finally, you should read 48 Laws of Power because it pulls the curtain up on everybody around you, yourself and your own actions. Once you understand how power is lost and gained, you can understand how your own actions influence the world around you. You can either be a misguided bull in a china shop, or a stoic, calm and calculated mover. That is your choice.
Whether you decide to use the book to subject others to misery or prevent others from subjecting misery on you, the book does make you reflect on what kind of person you are. There are some laws that will make you feel uncomfortable. Some make you feel sick to the stomach, and unnerved by the thought of observing the law, but I am telling you that is a good thing.
Power is subjective and it is dependent on what you consider to be ‘power’ in your own life. Whether that be the power of freedom to live life on your own terms, to protect your family or instruct your students. To cement the power that your job title or status in society provides you, the power of money, fame or simply the power to stand up for yourself.
Regardless, this book will help you understand what you want from life, and which laws apply to achieve your success.
Why You Should Not Read Power
It’s a little bit, well, boring.
Frankly, it is very dry and can be quite boring. This is not the page-turner the hype tells you it is. It is a dry, academic-style book that more resembles a University textbook than it is a thriller. The value of the book is certainly as a manual, to study each law and analyse how they can be applied in your life; whether that be an adherence to the law, or sometimes a reversal.
Much of the examples Greene uses are from classic literature, and ancient history (Roman Empire, Ancient China and Renaissance France) and abstracts from culturally important writings (the bible). While many of the laws are based on the timeless nature of human nature, some may find the examples hard to relate to within our modern life.
The books take some imagination and you’re required to do the hard work and find the true value of what the pages contain.
The Book Is Not The Holy Grail of Power
If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to make your life better or crush your hated enemies, then you’re not going to find it here. This book will happily offer the theory of how to gain an upper hand and understand the flow of power, but make no bones about it, most of what of the hard work is on you.
Whether you’re reading the book to get the promotion you want, or to fight back against a colleague who seems to always be one step ahead of you, you’ll spend a lot of your time trying to apply the laws to your own life. The book doesn’t make things easy for you and it requires attention, dedication and time to study each law. The may require some time to journal their thoughts, process the information they’ve been entrusted with, and time panicking about the time they failed to observe a law.
If you are looking for an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand self-help book that leads you like a dog on a lead, then you’ll be disappointed.
Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed our review of the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene, and you’ve come to the conclusion of whether you want to buy it. If you ask me, you should buy the book but try not to see it as a magic manual for bettering your life.
We have a comment section below, so please feel free to share your thoughts. Whether or not you liked the book. we’d love to see your thoughts on this very controversial book.