48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene Book Review

Robert Greene is an American author known for five bestselling books on strategy, seduction and power. Besides The 48 Laws of Power, his other books are:

• The Art of Seduction
• The 50th Law
• The 33 Strategies of War
• Mastery

Greene comes from a background of classical studies and has worked as a Hollywood screenwriter, among many other professions. Throughout his work experiences, Greene claims to have noticed patterns and strategies used by people in positions of power that share traits with those of famous figures in history such as celebrities, military men and/or politicians. Borrowing from his classical studies as well as from his knowledge of modern history and philosophy, he uses well-known examples of such figures applying the same “Laws”, often reinforcing his examples through multiple illustrations and showing the fates of historical or literary figures who did not follow these “Laws.”

In fact, given the age of so many of the historical examples in the book, Greene is essentially claiming that despite the technology of our modern era and our ability to communicate more clearly and widely than ever, society is still not that different from the royal courts of medieval times or the political forums of the Roman era, when intrigue, jealousy, suspicion and below-the-belt dealing were the order of the day.

As with his other books, the sheer number of examples and anecdotes Greene provides are voluminous and nearly overwhelming. The precise number of 48 Laws that he cites seems arbitrary, and some critics of the book argue that many of its commandments are contradictory. Indeed, for stringent edicts such as “Behave Like Others” and “Be Conspicuous at All Costs,” there would seem to be some questions as to how not to create conflict when applying them.

Certainly, it will be hard for any reader to memorize all of the rules the book offers due to their quantity, but most readers, upon their first glance at the table of contents, will likely mentally nod their heads in agreement because the majority of the Laws are not new, nor are they original; a great number of them are fairly obvious and even pedantic; in many cases, they’re subjective and/or case-specific. For instance, Law One states that you should “Never Outshine the Master.” But throughout history, it could be contended that there are plenty of examples where just the opposite occurred, for instance, with scientific or political disciples who made discoveries or took specific actions and were promoted or rewarded over their superiors.

An example Greene gives to back up this Law is that of Nicolas Fouquet, the finance minister to King Louis XIV of France. Fouquet threw a particularly lavish party to celebrate the completion of his new estate at Vaux-le-Vicomte, and he thought it would be the perfect occasion to show off his connections and the admiration many of the king’s subjects had for him. This, he thought, would be a way of demonstrating to the king that he would make an excellent prime minister, the position for which he believed he was being groomed. However, the party was so celebrated and impressive to its guests that King Louis was offended and believed that his subjects appreciated Fouquet more than himself. To Louis, this was an unforgivable sin, and he had Fouquet arrested and thrown in jail. Greene claims that this is the perfect example of the law in practice. However, one can look at a number of other examples, such as that of Nikola Tesla, who worked under Thomas Edison, eventually left him, received his own patents and attracted his own financial backing, to see a different story.

One of the formatting devices Greene uses next to the body of the text are sidebars either mentioning additional examples to back up each of his parables or tales being discussed or burrowing further into the background of the story being told. This produces a kind of schizophrenic effect as the reader then has two choices of text to read, and it’s hard to know which order to read them in. In fact, the formatting of the book in general is fairly jarring, as Greene constantly seems to interrupt himself, revert to past themes, explain the position of the devil’s advocate and/or discuss what he calls “a reversal” whereby the opposite of the rule may be true or useful on specific occasions. It’s clear that his mind is meandering and capable of simultaneous thoughts, but to a reader, the text appears especially dense and fraught with detail. Certainly, the overall effect is the opposite of that of a typical “business book,” which generally seeks to simplify and reduce themes to bullet points, outlines and memorable, repetitive phrases. The fact that there are 48 equally important Laws in the book thwarts that possibility.

In fact, the work is essentially the antithesis of a standard “business strategy book,” as Greene is not merely content to offer examples to back up his claims, but revels in their detail and purposely introduces more referents than are necessary to drive his points home. One is left with a sweeping impression of the work as academic — that this book might have been someone’s dissertation or master’s thesis — complete with tangential sidebar notes that were included in the published edition rather than incorporated into the main body of the text. It seems evident that the publisher/promoter — a Dutch man by the conspicuous name of Joost Elffers — wanted to not just make an impression with the work itself, but also with the striking cover design and unusual formatting of the book’s content. As such, despite the fact that the title of the book might suggest it be classified in the business or strategy sections of a bookstore, it more likely belongs in the classical or history department.

One criticism of the work that some people have made is that many potential readers might assume that it serves as a guideline or recommendation to those persons seeking power, when in fact, reviews such as that of Newsweek’s have said otherwise — that if anything, the book presents examples of why humility and obscurity are valuable qualities to embody. The ugliness and offensiveness, discourtesy and/or assumptive self-centeredness of the book’s “Laws” are never addressed; it is simply presumed that the importance of the reader or the person for whom these Laws are written is supreme and that any compromise or deference to another entity’s will, position or authority is calculated. Thus, the book appears quite Machiavellian and loathsome in its intention and perspective. Indeed, Machiavelli himself is the subject of a good number of Greene’s parables.

What qualifies Greene to be an arbiter on the subject of “power,” other than perhaps his study of history, is never made clear. How much he’s applied these principles in his own life is a bit of a mystery; all we know about Greene thus far is that he is merely an author whose title attracted the attention of a publisher who was inclined to promote his work in an attention-getting and attractive enough package for it to sell at least a million copies. Greene’s success with this book led to his further works being written, formatted and designed in an identical style. Indeed, the success of his works has been so great that rapper 50 Cent enlisted him to collaborate on a volume entitled “The 50th Law,” inspired by this work and 50 Cent’s own autobiographical tales of his life on the streets. Other than this success as an author, it’s hard to know if Greene has ever been thrust into a position of any substantial power himself, and therefore, his ability to speak with authority on the subject would appear to be somewhat limited.

34 Best Quotes from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

1. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand;
they listen with the intent to reply.

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.

2. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are──or, as we are conditioned to see it.

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are──or, as we are conditioned to see it.

3. It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.

It's not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.

4. Sow a thought, reap an action;
sow an action, reap a habit;
sow a habit, reap a character;
sow a character, reap a destiny.

Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.

5. My wife and I just don’t have the same feelings for each other we used to have.
I guess I just don’t love her anymore and she doesn’t love me. What can i do?”

“The feeling isn’t there anymore?” I asked.

“That’s right,” he reaffirmed. “And we have three children we’re really concerned about.
What do you suggest?”

“love her,” I replied.

“I told you, the feeling just isn’t there anymore.”

“Love her.”

“You don’t understand. the feeling of love just isn’t there.”

“Then love her. If the feeling isn’t there, that’s a good reason to love her.”

“But how do you love when you don’t love?”

“My friend , love is a verb. Love – the feeling – is a fruit of love, the verb.
So love her. Serve her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize.
Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?

Love is a verb. Love the feeling is a fruit of love the verb.

6. It is one thing to make a mistake, and quite another thing not to admit it. People will forgive mistakes, because mistakes are usually of the mind, mistakes of judgment. But people will not easily forgive the mistakes of the heart, the ill intention, the bad motives, the prideful justifying cover-up of the first mistake.

7. Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).

8. The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person.

The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person.

9. A thousand-mile journey begins with the first step and can only be taken one step at a time.

10. ineffective people live day after day with unused potential. Courage isn’t absenct of fear, it is the awareness that something else is important

11. As you care less about what people think of you, you will care more about what others think of themselves.

12. There’s no better way to inform and expand you mind on a regular basis than to get into the habit of reading good literature.

There is no better way to expand your mind on a regular basis than to get into the habit of reading good books.

13. Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase.

Reactive people, on the other hand, focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern. They focus on the weakness of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization.

The negative energy generated by that focus, combined with neglect in areas they could do something about, causes their Circle of Influence to shrink.

14. The person who doesn’t read is no better off than the person who can’t read.

15. As a principle-centered person, you see things differently. And because you see things differently, you think differently, you act differently. Because you have a high degree of security, guidance, wisdom, and power that flows from a solid, unchanging core, you have the foundation of a highly proactive and highly effective life.

16. The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person. Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values—carefully thought about, selected and internalized values.

Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They (should) determine your priorities, and, deep down, they’re probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to.

17. Albert Einstein observed, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.

Albert Einstein observed, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.

18. We could spend weeks, months, even years laboring with the personality ethic trying to change our attitudes and behaviors and not even begin to approach the phenomenon of change that occurs spontaneously when we see things differently.

19. Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

20. Live out of your imagination, not your history.

21. Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships. When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.

22. I teach people how to treat me by what I will allow.

23. To retain those who are present, be loyal to those who are absent.

To retain those who are present, be loyal to those who are absent.

24. If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.

25. always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers

26. Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.

27. The little understood concept of interdependence appears to many to smack of dependence, and therefore, we find people, often for selfish reasons, leaving their marriages, abandoning their children, and forsaking all kinds of social responsibility—all in the name of independence.

28. Life is, by nature, highly interdependent. To try to achieve maximum effectiveness through independence is like trying to play tennis with a golf club—the tool is not suited to the reality.

29. The way we see the problem is the problem.

The way we see the problem is the problem.

30. If I am emotionally interdependent, I derive a great sense of worth within myself, but I also recognize the need for love, for giving, and for receiving love from others. If I am intellectually interdependent, I realize that I need the best thinking of other people to join with my own.

31. As an interdependent person, I have the opportunity to share myself deeply, meaningfully, with others, and I have access to the vast resources and potential of other human beings.

32. Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make. Dependent people cannot choose to become interdependent.

33. On the maturity continuum, dependence is the paradigm of you—you take care of me; you come through for me; you didn’t come through; I blame you for the results. Independence is the paradigm of I—I can do it; I am responsible; I am self-reliant; I can choose. Interdependence is the paradigm of we—we can do it; we can cooperate; we can combine our talents and abilities and create something greater together.

34. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Best Quotes from Getting Things Done by David Allen


Collection of Best Quotes from Getting Things Done by David Allen.


When you suddenly come up with a brilliant idea while doing something totally irrelevant, capture it on a piece of paper and park it somewhere so you don’t lose it.

Your brain is a thinking tool, not a storage device.

Your brain is a thinking tool, not a storage device. Develop a capturing habit. | Gold Nugget Insights

Develop a capture habit to write down every future tasks rather than torturing yourself trying to remember them all.

Capture Habit

It is possible to be effectively doing while you are delightfully being, in your ordinary workaday world.

GTD Method // It is possible to be effectively doing while you are delightfully being, in your ordinary workaday world.

It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.


I am rather like a mosquito in a nudist camp; I know what I want to do, but I don’t know where to begin.

I am rather like a mosquito in a nudist camp; I know what I want to do, but I don't know where to begin.

Use your mind to think about things, rather than think of them. You want to be adding value as you think about projects and people, not simply reminding yourself they exist.


Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.

Much of the stress that people feel doesn't come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they've started.

Getting Things Done is not some new technology or invention. It simply makes explicit the principles at work within what we all do implicitly. But with that awareness, you can then leverage those principles consciously to create more elegant results.

The beginning is half of every action.

Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax.

The big problem is that your mind keeps reminding you of things when you can’t do anything about them. It has no sense of past or future. That means that as soon as you tell yourself that you need to do something, and store it in your RAM, there’s a part of you that thinks you should be doing that something all the time.

#NaggingThoughts – Get it done.


You’ve got to think about the big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.

Anything that causes you to overreact or underreact can control you, and often does.

You can try it for yourself right now, if you like.

Choose one project that is new or stuck or that could simply use some improvement.

Think of your purpose.

Think of what a successful outcome would look like: where would you be physically, financially, in terms of reputation, or whatever?

Brainstorm potential steps.

Organize your ideas.

Decide on the next actions.

Are you any clearer about where you want to go and how to get there?

Anything that does not belong where it is, the way it is, is an “open loop,” which will be pulling on your attention if it’s not appropriately managed.


Every now and then go away and have a little relaxation.

Every now and then go away and have a little relaxation. To remain constantly at work will diminish your judgment. Go some distance away, because work will be in perspective and a lack of harmony is more readily seen.


art of resting the mind and the power of dismissing from it all care and worry is probably one of the secrets of our great men.

Most of us have, in the past seventy-two hours, received more change producing, project creating, and priority shifting inputs than our parents did in a month, maybe even in a year.

Most of us have, in the past seventy-two hours, received more change-producing, project-creating, and priority-shifting inputs than our parents did in a month, maybe even in a year.