As the title implies, Green broke this book into 48 separate lessons, or “laws of power”. Each lesson contains numerous quotes and anecdotes from historically important figures, along with more focused stories that show exemplifications or transgressions of the laws being discussed.

After each of those focused stories, Greene gives his analysis of what the story shows, how it relates to the law, and how the reader can apply it to their lives. Each chapter is very well organized and strikes a good balance of being informational, helpful and historically proven, while also being interesting enough to hold the reader’s attention.

When it comes to morality and ethics, people are used to thinking in terms of black and white. Conversely, “The 48 Laws of Power” deals primarily with the gray areas. At the risk of sounding melodramatic and trite, I say that most of the Laws covered in this book can be used for great evil or for great good. It depends on the reader. There is really nothing wrong with most of the Laws.

Each Law comes with true stories from history about those who successfully observed it and those who foolishly or naively transgressed it. Robert Greene has an interpretation for each story. Though each Law is self-explanatory, Greene’s explanations are not padding, fluff or stuffing to make the book longer. They actually give greater clarification and depth. Greene’s insight even extends to crucial warnings about how the Laws could backfire.

There are two reasons to read this book:

1. For attack: To gain power, as have others who have carefully observed the Laws;

2. For defense: To be aware of ways that people may be trying to manipulate you.


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