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The 48 Laws Of Power


The 48 Laws of Power - Summary


"The 48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene is a manual that synthesizes centuries of wisdom on power, strategy, and human behavior. Drawing from historical figures and events, Greene lays out 48 laws that offer guidance on acquiring, maintaining, and defending power.

Summary of Laws

Law 1: Never Outshine the Master

Always make those above you feel comfortably superior. Avoid showing your complete abilities as it might evoke fear and insecurity.

Law 2: Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends, Learn How to Use Enemies

Be wary of friends—they will betray you more quickly because of envy. Instead, hire former enemies as they have more to prove.

Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions

Keep your intentions hidden. This prevents others from defending against your strategies.

Law 4: Always Say Less than Necessary

The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.

Law 5: So Much Depends on Reputation—Guard It with Your Life

Reputation is the cornerstone of power. Protect it fiercely.

Law 6: Court Attention at All Costs

Everything is judged by its appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing. Attract attention at all costs.

Law 7: Get Others to Do the Work for You, but Always Take the Credit

Use the skills and labor of others to further your own cause, then take the credit.

Law 8: Make Other People Come to You—Use Bait if Necessary

Use bait to lure people to you. Force them to act on your terms.

Law 9: Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument

Demonstrate, do not explicate.

Law 10: Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky

Avoid association with those that infect you with their own negativity. Their misfortune might rub off.

Law 11: Learn to Keep People Dependent on You

To maintain independence, make people depend on you.

Law 12: Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm Your Victim

One sincere move will cover over a dozen dishonest ones.

Law 13: When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest

Never to their mercy or gratitude.

Law 14: Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy

Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your target.

Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally

More is lost through stopping halfway. Crush your enemy in all ways.

Law 16: Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor

Too much circulation makes the price go down. The more you are seen and heard, the more common you appear.

Law 17: Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability

Humans are creatures of habit. Appear unpredictable.

Law 18: Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself—Isolation is Dangerous

The world is dangerous and enemies are everywhere. Become a spy.

Law 19: Know Who You’re Dealing with—Do Not Offend the Wrong Person

Never assume everyone will react the same way. Choose your victims and opponents carefully.

Law 20: Do Not Commit to Anyone

It is foolish to rush to take sides. Do not commit to any side or cause but yourself.

Law 21: Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker—Seem Dumber than Your Mark

No one likes to feel stupider than the next person. The trick is to make your victims feel smart.

Law 22: Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness into Power

When you are weaker, never fight for honor but for survival.

Law 23: Concentrate Your Forces

Conserve your forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at their strongest point.

Law 24: Play the Perfect Courtier

The perfect courtier thrives in a world where everything revolves around power and political dexterity.

Law 25: Recreate Yourself

Do not accept the roles that society foists on you. Recreate yourself by forging a new identity.

Law 26: Keep Your Hands Clean

Never appear soiled by mistakes. Use others as scapegoats to disguise your involvement.

Law 27: Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cultlike Following

People have an overwhelming desire to believe in something. Become the focal point of such desire.

Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness

If you are unsure, then don’t do it.

Law 29: Plan All the Way to the End

The ending is everything. Plan all the way to it.

Law 30: Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless

Your actions must seem natural and executed with ease.

Law 31: Control the Options: Get Others to Play with the Cards You Deal

The best deceptions are the ones that seem to give the other person a choice.

Law 32: Play to People’s Fantasies

The truth is often avoided because it is ugly and unpleasant.

Law 33: Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew

Everyone has a weakness, a gap in the castle wall. That weakness is usually an insecurity.

Law 34: Be Royal in Your Own Fashion: Act Like a King to be Treated Like One

The way you carry yourself will often determine how you are treated.

Law 35: Master the Art of Timing

Never seem to be in a hurry. Hurrying betrays a lack of control.

Law 36: Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Them is the Best Revenge

By acknowledging a petty problem, you give it existence and credibility.

Law 37: Create Compelling Spectacles

Striking imagery and grand symbolic gestures create the aura of power.

Law 38: Think as You Like but Behave Like Others

If you make a show of going against the times, flaunting your unconventional ideas, people will think that you only want attention.

Law 39: Stir Up Waters to Catch Fish

Anger and emotion are strategically counterproductive. Stay calm and objective.

Law 40: Despise the Free Lunch

What is offered for free is dangerous—it usually involves either a trick or a hidden obligation.

Law 41: Avoid Stepping into a Great Man’s Shoes

What happens first always appears better and more original than what comes after.

Law 42: Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep will Scatter

Trouble can often be traced to a single strong individual.

Law 43: Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others

Coercion creates a reaction that will eventually work against you.

Law 44: Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect

The mirror reflects reality, but it is also the perfect tool for deception.

Law 45: Preach the Need for Change, but Never Reform Too Much at Once

Everyone understands the need for change in the abstract, but on the day-to-day level, people are creatures of habit.

Law 46: Never Appear Too Perfect

Appearing better than others is always dangerous.

Law 47: Do Not Go Past the Mark You Aimed for; In Victory, Know When to Stop

The moment of victory is often the moment of greatest peril.

Law 48: Assume Formlessness

By taking a shape, by having a visible plan, you open yourself to attack.


"The 48 Laws of Power" offers pragmatic advice, distilled from the lessons of history, about power and strategy. Greene advises the reader to be cautious, strategic, and above all, aware of the power dynamics at play in all areas of life.