am 14. April 2000
The book is well written, engaging in concept, and it gets its points across well. It is also very useful and practical. It is, of course, also quite evil. The very essense of it in fact. Please understand that I don't usually speak in such black and white terms, or religious terms, but this book struck me as that - pure evil. Despite it's title, however, it is not really about true power. True power is about leadership, vision, and conviction. This is merely about the immoral and unethical tricks, manipulations and deceptions that some people use to work themselves into positions of influence and authority over others. Since these people and their tactics certainly exist however, this book is an excellent guide to tell you exactly what to look for in others and so help you plan your defenses. Some of the laws are common sense and relatively harmless (like law 1 - never outshine the master, or another: do not show your weaknesses, keep your mystery) but some are ruthless, unethical, immoral and I could never follow them (like - having others do your work for you and then taking credit for their work, or: targeting weaker people as demonstrations for your power by setting them up for public attack, etc.) Even if you do not plan to use the techniques yourself, it is good to know about them. It is useful to be able to form an effective defense against them for when they do come up in life. Add to this the fact that the book is entertaining to read, and you have a worthwhile purchase. Like looking at the opposite team's playbook.
More knowledge is good I think. I feel somewhat wiser for having read it.
am 15. Juli 2000
This is a naughty book. It teaches the would-be proponent of the power game, to be mean and nasty, and how to get ahead in life. To this end, the book sets out The 48 Laws of Power.
The 48 Laws of Power is highly common-sensical, realistic and practical. Notwithstanding the meanness of the 48 Laws, I found this book to be a valuable guide to getting on in life. Politics and human relations are inevitable matters which we have to deal with in life. The sooner one learns and masters the 48 Laws, the better.
Personally, I would not advocate actively practising the 48 Laws. But knowing what these 48 Laws are, is imperative. They more one is aware of these Laws, the better one is able to identify life's dangers and avoid or defend oneself from potential troubles.
I like how each chapter focuses on a specific Law of Power. The chapters follow a common systematic and organised template which makes reading easy. The chapters are packed with loads of lessons and historic examples, illustrating how each Law works. Beside learning the Laws of Power, I also learnt a great deal of history from this book. And if you are a student of Sun-Tzu, Machiavelli or Clausewitz, you will love this book.
When I first read this book back in November 1998, I had the opportunity to reflect on and observe the workings of The 48 Laws of Power. Dr Mahathir, Prime Minister of Malaysia had just then sacked his Deputy the charismatic Anwar Ibrahim. Interestingly, a copy of Asiaweek in or about that time showed a picture of Dr Mahathir, in his office, shaking hands with his new Deputy, Badawi - in the foreground of the picture, on Dr Mahathir's desk, a copy of The 48 Laws of Power could be found.
am 11. Februar 1999
After 44 years in the corp world of DuPont, General Electric, Black & Decker, Sunbeam, and Steelcase, I relate to all of the laws one way or another.
Many of my mistakes in my career could have been avoided if I had this book at my desk side.
I was a naive, honest, ethical engineer, manager, V.P., and President.......and was blind sided by my inability to see the manipulations, dishonesty, political, manipulations of my trusted leaders. My wisdom came too late.
Business ethics be damned.........the game is winning and gaining power forgetting the customer, company, the employees and pleasing the shareholders and Wall Street above all to gain personal reputation and be hailed by Fortune, Forbes, Business Week, etc. feeding the ego trips of top management, taking credit for all that is good and shedding the blame on others when things go bad.
This should be preferred reading in the Business Schools.
A great job done by the Authors.
am 1. August 2000
As a part owner of a computer company doing business with large and small organisations. I have problems with partners, employees who could easily get better paying jobs and clients. As such I tend to read these sort of books to get ideas.
Many of the laws I think are invalid eg use absence to increase respect and honor. If you go absence often you become irrelevant. If your a cad in the end, as these authors ask you to be then you will be found out.
In any case the book is divide into 48 chapters. Each starts with one of their rules. Then the rest of the chapter discusses it. It has nice stories, sayings and supposely historical accounts to support these laws.
However these historical accounts are often wrong. For example the Persian empire did not start to unravel with Cyrus defeat. After his death it actually grew and got more powerful. The nationalist in China did not wear themselves down in a war with Japan during world war 2 but made an unofficial cease fire with them.
Somehow while reading this book, I got the feeling that these people who wrote it have never experienced what its like to play the power game. What I think they have done is mix Sun-tzu and Machiavelli books. This accounts for why their examples are so old. But not as good or useful as either of these books because they do not have the practical experience that these people had. As a little player in this field, I can see that this is not something you can learn from books without practical experience.
am 6. Januar 1999
The first time I read this book it was indeed called The Prince and it was written by the original strongman of Florenzia: Machiavelli. This book is one of those recycling past political/military strategist books that appears every few years or now ever since Michael Douglas told Charlie Sheen to read The Art of War in Wall Street. In short, you're better reading the original versions of hardball-politic books.
If Machiavelli himself is too rough for your tastes, try out "A child's guide to machiavelli" which, as a satire, is more effective and direct than this book.
At any rate, the authors have successfully waged their own Princely propaganda campaign as we've all seen ads for this book in the NY Times for the last few days!
The only argument against my denigration of this book is the assembly of examples regarding specific businessmen/women & occurrences. Hogwash I say. The reason The Prince stays in the western canon is because man has proved Machiavelli right time after time. Only the most dense reader needs these examples spelled out letter for read letter.
Kudos must be given to Elffers for his interesting design though.
am 21. Mai 1999
If you're reading this and haven't bought the book, then you did yourself one huge favor. Here's why. The book gives examples of how certain con artists and swindlers act, and the book seems to suggest we follow their ways if we want to have power. And though they quote from respected books like Sun Tzu's The Art of War, they foul it up by taking certain passages out of context, not to mention fouling it up by having contradictory "laws." In summary, the "laws" support selfishness, trickery, and dishonesty. If one thinks that's power or that's reality, that person is sadly mistaken. Even Sun Tzu teaches humaneness and to avoid war or conflict if possilble, at the same time teaches strategy and thus winning. This book provides neither wisdom nor insight into winning.
am 26. Mai 1999
This is one of the best books that I have ever read. Unfortunately it is also one that can easily be misunderstood or misused. First let me say what the book is. The book is a guide to amoral methods of gaining power. It gives 48 different "laws" to use to accomplish that. The 1st misunderstanding of the book is purely the fault of the authors. "Laws" is very misleading in this case. "Strategies" works much better, but isn't quite as marketable. Anyone who tries to follow all 48 laws simultaneously all the time will be sorely dissapointed. The book will not make you an expert power player. Yes, the book does contradict itself, but in real life different strategies are needed in different situations. It's still up to you which ones to use. This brings me to the next point. Yes, the book is a distillation of many great masters of power. And, as with any distillation, the end result is not as good. But the simple fact is that the great masters are fairly difficult and boring to take straight. The book is best used almost as a primer course. It makes reading the actual texts by Machiavelli and Sun Tzu much easier. Next, the book does not advocate the use of these ideas. It does not say "Here, everyone should do this." In fact, in expressly says that these laws are not right for everyone. Those who morals tell them not to act this way, shouldn't. The book is a study of strategies for gaining power which have worked for those in the past. The book also does not advocate any particular use for power. It does not say that one should gain power for its own sake, or that one should gain power to help others. It just says that if you want to have power, here are some ways to do it. It's up to you how to use the power. The cold, hard truth is that the methods described in the book do work. Every major wielder of power in history has used some of the rules to get that power. Gandhi was a master of the use of power - Law 6 "Court Attention At All Costs", Law 8 "Make Other's Come To You", Law 9 "Win Through Your Actions", Law 16 "Use Absence to Increase Respect." These were all methods used by Gandhi to take power from the British. The most important law in my opinion is Law 19, "Know Who You're Dealing With, Do Not Offend the Wrong Person." The person who does not treat the methods in hear with the proper respect and uses them rashly will violate this law over and over. The wise reader, however, will take Law 19 to heart and learn when to and when not to use the strategies, The laws themselves are neither moral nor immoral. How they are used defines their morality. I found the book to be a wealth of ideas and examples of what works and what doesn't work. The immorality of many of the laws is balanced by the fact that the more immoral your course of action seems, the more likely you are to violate Law 19. I recomend this book on many levels. It is a fascinating study of power, and the historical examples they use are equally interesting. I would have read it for that alone. On a larger scale it is a guidebook for those who feel that they are capable of gaining power, for whatever purporse, and are also prepared to accept the risk of failure and the pain that comes with it.
am 23. Juli 2000
All of us are at least a little deceptive or even manipulative, because this is what makes for bearable social interaction. Some of the laws even made some strange kind of common sense to me. However, the way to power has used quite sinister methods throughout history.
Greene discusses taking credit for other people's accomplishments wherever possible as a law of power. I was surprised to read that Thomas Edison took credit for Tesla's and other inventors' ideas. Has all the juvenile literature on Edison been leading us astray on the virtues of Thomas Edison?
I found the discussion of envy outstanding. Greene tells us that envy is the sin that no one will admit to. He cautions us to resists parading our successes to avert the envy that others will not show, but will feel and will find ways to undercut our success. He also says that a "sour grapes" attitude is not so bad. It helps us avoid envy, by devaluing the success we want, but cannot attain.
am 18. März 2000
Greene and Elffers wrote a book that should be read with a yellow highlighter (like I did).
I do wish more modern examples would have been included in the text, particularly the power game as played by political campaign advisers such as James Carville and Ed Rollins, who has retired from the game. However, the ecclectic mix of examples from the military, politics, diplomacy and con artistry more than make up for this deficiency.
The book doesn't have to be read in a linear fashion, or even all at once. For example, if you want a raise, read the chapters on making yourself irreplaceable, taking credit for others' work and showing what you can do for your leader in the future.
The authors' use of observances and transgressions of the laws of power will have you thinking back to the times you succeeded or failed in harvesting power. You'll at once be excited and disappointed. Sometimes you'll even slap yourself upside your head as you remember your more stupid mistakes (I still have the marks).
"Power" isn't a how-to book in the traditional sense. It will require deep thought, planning and patience to execute these 48 laws successfully, at the proper time. There are no steps to follow, no real guidelines, just anecdotes illustrating how past practicioners of the power game succeeded in their endeavors. There's also interpretations of these anecdotes that bring history back to modern relevance.
Whether you have problems at work or in relationships, "Power" will help you realize where you've went wrong and educate you on what steps to take in the future.
Remember, power isn't all ugly. To paraphrase the authors, sometimes lying and conniving are the nicest things you can do to a person.
am 28. April 1999
The great thing about this book is that the authors are the ones who are reaping the profits not the people who buy the book. It is also a sad fact that people have to go as low as this book to succeed. In my opinion people should just relax and do to others as you would like to be done to you (assuming you don't like pain). I'll tell you what this book will help you achieve. It's called getting whacked. That's right, you do this stuff to other people and when you hit the wrong guy or girl you will suffer the consequences. There are a lot more psychos out there today, just look at the Colorado school shootings.
Also, I am intrigued in the way the author has reversals at the end of the majority of chapters. In other words, the same law he just gave you does not work all the times. Therefore, the exact opposite must be done in order to succeed. In other words each law in the book is basically right and wrong. That's my whole point. You don't need this book, just relax. Remember the majority of the rules are neutralized.
People feel that buying a book is going to help them. If you can't help yourself, then a book is not going to help either.