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am 14. Januar 1999
This book is pure evil. The premise is that you gain power over people only at their expense. That's not power -- that's manipulation, and it comes back to get you. True power comes from helping others in a genuine way, not trying to lie, cheat, and deceive. Others say it's good as defense, but that's wrong -- it encourages people to think of others as trying to take advantage of them. It hurts those of us trying to live our lives honestly, decently, without deception. If you loved "The Rules," this mean-spirited book of treachery will give you more tools to make yourself even more miserable. *** In their preface, the authors say "You cannot succeed at deception unless you take a somewhat distanced approach to yourself..." DON'T ENCOURAGE THIS! VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLARS -- DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK! If you have already bought it, return it! (Buy "The Road Less Traveled" or "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" instead.
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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.
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am 25. Januar 1999
Greene does a good job at making a compelling case for his argument...that it's a dog-eat-dog world and you've got to be coniving to make it. However, in order to accept his assertions you must subscribe to a worldview that is very shallow indeed. There is more to life than what Greene evidently sees, and to limit yourself to a paranoid existence based on works like this is saddening and pathetic. To a limited number of people out there, this book will be a manual of manipulation. To say that you need a book like this to guard yourself against this element is misguided. Trust in yourself, and trust in goodness. Those who follow the 48 Laws of Power may actually taste power for a brief instant, but their time on this earth will be a lonely, paranoid, miserable fight. What goes around comes around. This world is what you perceive it to be. Don't let books like this distract you from what great wonders our lives are.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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am 16. Januar 1999
Everytime I have used the "laws" in this book, I have lost popularity, success, and friends. Read this book and make sure you do not apply a single priciple to your life. I suspect that the opposite of every non-contradictory rule is a better guide to power.
The only merit these "laws" have is in the global abstract. If you are running for President of the United States these rules may be somewhat applicable. The reason I say this is because traditional power rules do not apply when one is pursuing power at the impersonal, national level, where there is fierce competition.
"Good men are never great. Great men are never good."
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am 17. Juli 2000
This book is an absolute must to read and study if you want to be just like Richard on "Survivor." On one hand, you'll get rid of "the little people" with some success, if you're very, very, very lucky you may win quite a great deal of material profit; on the other hand, you're likely to have people absolutely despise you if they can see through you at all (and they likely will), and want to keep you at arm's length.
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Although one ought to be aware that an author who is producing series of knowledge applications (The 33 Strategies of War; The Art of Seduction) one should not hesitate to take a look on Robert Greene's The 48 Laws of Power. Of course one should be aware of the insinuation of getting an instruction book. Everybody who is expecting to get useful hints for practical life to gain power and become a mighty figure will be disappointed because life is a little bit more complicated than a historical extract of power related situations.

Nevertheless the conception of the book has its charming aspects. Greene has distilled the most characteristic schemes of power drags in history and formulated a rule out of them. Then he tells the story how it was practised in historical context. And like a directors note there are red inked quotations from famous protagonists in the everlasting game of power play.

Whether choosing the opening Never Outshine Your Master or well known phrases like Always Say Less Than Necessary, Infection: Avoid The Unhappy And Unlucky, Pose As A Friend, Work As A Spy or more sophisticated rules like Disarm And Infuriate With The Mirror Effect, the advise of using power is exclusively based on an utilitarian attitude. That might lead to misunderstandings and discomfort with German readers who mostly like to combine the question of power with that one of morality. But that is not corresponding with the course of history and in no way betoken with the title.

If someone is in contrast interested in getting a light handed overview over the techniques of the everlasting power games in human societies he will get a very interesting illustration. Or, to be a little bit nasty by quoting the book: Get Others To Do The Work For You, But Always Take The Credit!
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am 24. Januar 1999
Books on power are most eagerly grabbed up by the vengefully powerless. There have always been a host of dysfunctions circulating in our species that are easily replicated as memes, immortalized as principles, and lapped up by immature folk who believe themselves victimized. After all, the cruel world somehow "happened to" them and there must be a "system of ideas and beliefs" behind the cruelty.
A fairly robust inventory of dysfunctional principles can be found here and some rules contradict others. But then internal contradiction and defiance are the core qualities of dysfunction. But very few of us can be despots unaccountable to anyone in a democratic society, so the examples from monarchic times and places are somewhat out of date. Most "coping with difficult people books" will give you better results if you find yourself on the business end of one of these behaviors.
This is a plausible "taxonomy of evil". Sadly, however, it will be used for years by the fallen and lost to explain their condition and the "true nature of the human world, as all such compendiums have been, from the Prince forward. What's ironic is that those who already practice these principles without guilt did not and will not get them from a book.
So-o-o, if you don't practice these now, don't expect a makeover. If you try adopting them you'll just wind up more crazy than you are now.
Greene's POV is a pastiche of many theories by which pinched, numb people justify living apart from others, scowling at all that is joy-engendering. Give me a laughing mother and child, a meal with friends or a Shakespeare sonnet anytime. And let Pandora Greene make his bucks opening this box of devils for those in his alternate universe.
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