Robert Greene: The 48 Laws of Power

Robert Greene has written a book in the tradition of Machiavelli. He illustrates his “laws” with historical examples of what happens when they are followed or transgressed. Each chapter concludes with a section discussing the reversal of the law. The book is charmingly laid out with the main narrative flanked by fables, anecdotes and maxims.
But a question arises: Is Greene’s rhetorical display of candour to be taken at face value, or are the “laws” themselves merely playful inventions of a fertile mind that has found a lucrative publishing niche?


Key Quotations

  • An emotional response to a situation is the single greatest barrier to power, a mistake that will cost you a lot more than any temporary satisfaction you might gain by expressing your feelings.
  • Like Janus, the double-faced Roman deity and guardian of all gates and doorways, you must be able to look in both directions at once, the better to handle danger from wherever it comes.
  • Deception is a developed art of civilization and the most potent weapon in the game of power.

Robert R. Greene
Born in Los Angeles in May 14, 1959, Greene attended the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he received a degree in classical studies. He has worked in New York City as an editor and writer for several magazines, including Esquire, and in Hollywood as a story developer and writer. He lived for years in London, Paris, and Barcelona. In 1995 Greene was involved in the planning and creation of the art school Fabrica outside Venice, Italy. (Source: Wikipedia)