The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene - Summary and Notes

In his bestselling book, Robert Green shares stories that outline the fundamental dynamics of power and get deep into human psychology.

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene - Summary and Notes

In his bestselling book, Robert Green shares stories that outline the fundamental dynamics of power and get deep into human psychology. The book paints a dark world, where you can move forward in secret, conspire, wading through others. However, this is about power and we don’t have to follow these laws.

The 48 laws of power is not a classic self-improvement book.

Darker, more medieval, crueler.

At the same time, all 48 laws are applicable, true, and can have real benefits if we dare to apply them.

What I learned from the book:

  • Talk less!
  • Be mysterious!
  • Be a master of timing!
  • A negative reputation is also fame.
  • Recreate yourself!
  • Color the options to suit you!
  • Never shine past your master!
  • Convince the other with your actions, not your arguments!

The 48 laws of power is a popular book.

It provides practical advice. Robert Green’s storytelling and research are remarkable.

I do not encourage using the methods and dynamics desribed in the book, however there is a lot to learn here. I liked the book and recommend it for reading.

The 48 Laws of Power - Summary

The purpose of my summaries is to recall what I have read after reading the book and to write a summary that can be used later, briefly describing the book.

However, the 48 laws of power are easily understandable, and the essence of the law can often be described in a few words. I recommend reading the book, but going through the laws can also be helpful.

the 48 laws of power

1. Never outshine your master


2. Don't trust your friends too much

Work with people of good talent!

Don’t employ a friend, even if it seems comfortable!

3. Hide your intentions

Use false targets to mislead!

Bismarck gave an anti-war speech to ministers to confuse them. He wanted a war and got it through doing the opposite.

Don't be always honest!

Say what others want to hear! Talk about your false dreams! This makes you look open while misleading your enemies.

4. Always say less than necessary

The more you talk, the more nonsense you say.

5. Reputation is the building block of power

Appearance and the opinions of others matter.

6. Stand out! Be the center of attention

Scandals also draw attention to you, therefore they are useful.

The quality of attention doesn’t matter, just its existence.

Don't be clear!

Create a kind of mysterious aura around your person!

7. Let others work for you


8. Attract people to you

Napoleon's return after his fall was no accident.

It was carefully planned, just as his fall was. His enemies knew he could not resist the power, so they offered it. Napoleon was manipulated with bait.

9. Win through your actions never through arguments


10. Avoid the unhappy and the unlucky


11. Make people dependent on you


12. Use honesty and generosity to disarm your victim.

Honesty often hits others unexpectedly.

Surprise them!

Give before they ask!

13. When you ask for help, focus on the interests of others.

Not for generosity, good faith, or the helpfulness of others.

While you ask for help, focus on why it is worth it for the other party!

14. Behave like a friend, be a spy

People will not tell you their true goals as an outsider. Get close to them! Give them a fake certificate! Be their friend and listen in the meantime!

15. Crush your enemies totally


16. Use your absence to increase your power

It’s not necessarily good to always be available!

Your absence gives more value to your presence.

17. Keep others in uncertainty

Chess Grandmaster Bobby Fisher was often late for important parties. However, this was no accident.

He started the game before the game.

Others waited for him, they thought he was predictable. But right away with his first step, he managed to surprise him, so they couldn’t predict his next move either.

18. Do not build a fortress for your protection. Isolation is dangerous

Several assassinations were committed against the Chinese emperor Qin Si Huang during his reign, so he became mysterious. It was forbidden to give his exact location, he built a fortress to protect it.

The emperor died without anyone noticing.

19. Know who you are dealing with. Don't upset the wrong person

Study and get to know your opponent!

20. Don't commit yourself to anyone

Stay neutral! Notice the conflicts and benefit from it!

21. Play the fool to find the fool

Make others feel smarter than you!

22. Use the technique of surrender: you change your weakness into a strength

You just have to pretend like you gave up, you don’t have to give up!

23. Concentrate your forces

Focus on one goal and one task at a time!

24. Be the perfect courtier

Be a good advisor!

Make others feel important!

Don't talk much about yourself!

Just share the good news with others!

25. Recreate yourself


26. Keep your hands clean!

Mistakes are inevitable, but try to minimize their impact. Use scapegoats to blame, a buffer to make you less affected by a fall.

27. Use people's faith

Create a community around you!

Attract and retain the crowd!

28. Act with courage

Lions circle around the precarious prey.

When you’re as tiny as David, you need to find yourself a Goliath you can attack!

29. Plan to the end

Most people decide and act on an emotional basis. The end of the road is what matters.

Don’t shoot the joke, don’t ruin the dreams of others!

The end is what matters! Not only is it important to get to the goal, but who gets the recognition for it all.

30. Pretend to achieve your success without effort

Don't teach others your tricks!

Be like Houdini!

You may know the solution, but let others remain in the dark!

31. Give choices

Outline several options for others, each of which is in your best interest! Are you forced to share opportunities with someone that are detrimental to you?

Color these options according to your interests!

32. Play to people's fantasies

People usually believe that they are not at fault, they have been held together by some invisible force or their ancient enemies.

Don't reveal the reality!

Play according to the imagination of others!

33. Discover each man's weaknesses

Everyone has a thumbscrew. These are usually based on some kind of uncertainty, an uncontrollable feeling.

Always pay attention to the passions of others that cannot be controlled. You may find a weak point.

34. Be royal in your way


35. Perfect the art of timing


36. Ignore things you can't have

You choose what annoys you and what doesn't!

If you can't influence something, let it go!

37. Make a compelling frame

Garnish, spectacular components impress people.

38. Think the way you want, but act the way others do


39. Stir up the water if you want to catch the fish

Anger and emotion are always counterproductive.

Stay calm and impartial. But if you make your opponents angry in the meantime, you win.

40. Despise the free lunch

The value of money lies not in its possession but its use.

41. Don’t step into a big man’s shoes

Try to avoid people forcing you into big people's shoes. If it does happen, don't make your predecessor's mistakes!

Alexander the Great did not have an easy time following his successful father, Philippos, on the throne.

He could have become arrogant and poignant from the inherited position, but he stepped out of his father's shadow and achieved even greater success.

Don't become confident from your current position!

Nurture your relationships, take advantage of your abilities and control your ego!

42. Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will scatter


43. Work on the hearts and minds of others

You are surrounded by people who have no interest in helping you. Trigger emotions out of them!

Develop a sense of attachment.

44. Disarm others with the mirror effect

Copy the deeds of your opponents. If you do exactly what they do, they will not be able to figure out your true strategy. What’s more, they might think you sympathize with them.

45. Announce change, but don’t change suddenly

It takes time for any change.

46. ​​Never seem perfect

Envy breeds silent enemies.

47. When you win, know where to stop


48. Become shapeless

Be flexible!

The world is constantly changing around you!

Do the same!

The 48 Laws of Power

by Robert Green

Read More