“Power is a game, and in games, you do not judge your opponents by their intentions but by the effects of their actions” -Robert Greene

In “The 48 Laws Of Power”. Robert Greene studied the behavior of the most powerful people in the last 3,000 years of history and, packed them into 48 laws, to help us understand how we can master the art of power and avoid being manipulated or crushed by others.

The bestselling book is known to be a popular reading choice among a lot of celebrities and prisoners in the United States prisons libraries. It has been banned by many US prisons.

the 48 laws of power book cover


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Protect Your Reputation At All Costs

Law 5 in The 48 Laws Of Power: Reputation is the cornerstone of power. Through reputation alone you can intimidate and win; once it slips, however, you are vulnerable and will be attacked on all sides. Make your reputation unassailable. Always be alert to potential attacks and thwart them before they happen. Meanwhile, learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations. Then stand aside and let public opinion hang them.

Since we must live in society and must depend on the opinions of others, there is nothing to be gained by neglecting our reputation. By not caring how you are perceived, you let others decide this for you. Be the master of your fate, and also of your reputation.

Crush Your Enemy Totally

Law 15 in The 48 Laws Of Power: Crush your enemy totally. All great leaders since Moses have known that a feared enemy must be crushed completely.

Sometimes they have learned this the hard way. If one ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders, a fire will eventually break out. More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation: The enemy will recover and will seek revenge. Crush him, not only in body but in spirit.

Sometimes by crushing an enemy, you embitter them so much that they spend years and years plotting revenge.
Some would argue that in the long run, it would be better to show some leniency. The problem is, your leniency involves another risk it may embolden the enemy, which still harbors a grudge, but now has some room to operate.

It is almost always wiser to crush your enemy. If they plot revenge years later, do not let your guard down, but simply crush them again.

Know Your Opponents

“When you meet a swordsman, draw your sword: Do not recite poetry to one who is not a poet” – a Ch’an Buddhist Classic

Law 19 in The 48 Laws Of Power: The ability to measure people and to know who you’re dealing with is the most important skill of all in gathering and conserving power. Without it you are blind: Not only will you offend the wrong people, you will choose the wrong types to work on, and will think you are flattering people when you are actually insulting them.

Before embarking on any move, take the measure of your mark or potential opponent. Otherwise, you will waste time and make mistakes. Study people’s weaknesses, the chinks in their armor, their areas of both pride and insecurity. Know their ins and outs before you even decide whether or not to deal with them. Two final words of caution:

First, in judging and measuring your opponent, never rely on your instincts. You will make the greatest mistakes of all if you rely on such inexact indicators. Nothing can substitute for gathering concrete knowledge. Study and spy on your opponent for however long it takes; this will pay off in the long run.

Second, never trust appearances. Anyone with a serpent’s heart can use a show of kindness to cloak it; a person who is blustery on the outside is often really a coward. Learn to see through appearances and their contradictions. Never trust the version that people give of themselves it is utterly unreliable.

Choose your victims and opponents carefully, then never offend or deceive the wrong person.

Plan Until The End

Law 29 in The 48 Laws Of Power: The ending is everything. Plan all the way to it, It is the thing that determines who gets the glory, the money, or the prize. Your conclusion must be crystal clear, and you must keep it constantly in your mind. You must also figure out how to ward off the vultures circling overhead, trying to live off the carcass of your creation. And you must anticipate the many possible crises and obstacles that will tempt you to improvise.

Most men are ruled by the heart, not the head. Their plans are vague, and when they meet obstacles they improvise. But improvisation will only bring you as far as the next crisis and is never a substitute for thinking several steps ahead and planning to the end.

If you are clear and far-thinking enough, you will understand that the future is uncertain and that you must be open to adaptation. Only having a clear objective and a far-reaching plan allows you that freedom.

Master The Art Of Timing

Law 35 in The 48 Laws Of Power: Never seem to be in a hurry—hurrying betrays a lack of control over yourself, and over time. Always seem patient, as if you know that everything will come to you eventually. Become a detective of the right moment; sniff out the spirit of the times, the trends that will carry you to power. Learn to stand back when the time is not yet ripe, and to strike fiercely when it has reached fruition

The author described a three kinds of time for us to deal with; each of them presents problems that can be solved with skill and practice.

First, there is long time: the drawn-out, years-long kind of time that must be managed with patience and gentle guidance. Our handling of long time should be mostly defensive—this is the art of not reacting impulsively, of waiting for opportunity.

Next, there is forced time: the short-term time that we can manipulate as an offensive weapon, upsetting the timing of our opponents.

Finally, there is end time: when a plan must be executed with speed and force. We have waited, found the moment, and must not hesitate.

There is no power to be gained in letting go of the reins and adapting to whatever time brings. To some degree you must guide time or you will be its merciless victim.


In the end, I want you to know that reading summaries is helpful (at least better than not reading at all). But, you will not get the full benefit unless you read the whole book. Remember: “reading a summary of a certain book is like watching a trailer of a movie while reading the whole book is like watching the whole movie.” 

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