The 48 Laws of Power summary review full list Robert Greene
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The 48 Laws of Power Summary and Full List | Robert Greene

The 48 Laws of Power summary review full list Robert Greene


“Machiavelli has a new rival. And Sun Tzu had better watch his back. Greene… has put together a checklist of ambitious behavior. Just reading the table of contents is enough to stir a little corner-office lust.”

– New York Magazine

World leaders, corporate executives, and other celebrities often influence global events. Have you ever wondered how these powerful people got to where they are? 

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene focuses on techniques for establishing power and influence in any situation. 

The book presents historical instances of each law in operation. It also provides examples of people who do not follow these principles. A cynical person may think that a few laws are devious, and some of them really are. That said, they are all anchored in the complexities of human nature. In the end, understanding and using them to your advantage is more crucial than denying their existence.

There are various instances in our life and career where these laws are relevant. Different circumstances require different courses of action. The book provides a guide to harness these laws to your advantage, regardless of the environment. Some laws focus on improving yourself progressively. Other laws focus on achieving victory over others in various pursuits of life. 

Ultimately, The 48 Laws of Power teaches you to take control of your destiny. The central premise is that you can either be the person in power or a pawn in their agenda. If you seek to wield power rather than yield it, this book is a must-read. 

In this summary, we have outlined the key ideas from The 48 Laws of Power.

“Critical for anyone trying to accomplish anything.”

– Ryan Holiday

Listen to the Audiobook Summary of The 48 Laws of Power

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About Robert Greene

Greene developed many insights into The 48 Laws of Power while working as a Hollywood writer. The psychological and behavioral similarities between today’s elite and historical personalities inspired him.

Greene came from a middle-class household in Los Angeles. His dad was a cleaning supply salesperson, and his mom was a homemaker with a failed creative desire. Greene labored in low-paying jobs in Europe before working in the media and Hollywood in the United States and publishing The 48 Laws of Power in his late 30s.

Greene met book packager Joost Elffers at a communications and arts school in 1995. Elffers asked him to draft a treatment six months after Greene presented a book on power to him.

Greene thought writing a book proposal was risky. His views changed when he revisited Julius Caesar’s favorite biography. Caesar’s determination to cross the Rubicon River and confront Pompey inspired him. This courageous decision started the Great Roman Civil War. Greene penned the treatment, which was titled The 48 Laws of Power. This was the turning moment of his life.

He is currently the author of six bestsellers, including The 33 Strategies of War and The Art of Seduction. Many of his ideas within these bestselling books have their foundations in Zen Buddhism principles.

StoryShot #1: Get People To Rely On You

Many believe that influencing your workplace requires connecting with a powerful supervisor. Greene advises against it.

The powerful boss will fire you and hire a new team member if you make a mistake. Instead, he offers a fresh idea. Choose a weak boss and make them rely on you until they can’t do anything without you. Make them so enmeshed with your fate that they can’t quickly get rid of you. To achieve this, be the only one who can perform what you do. However, it is also important that your boss does not see you as a threat.

Many renowned knights battled for their lords in the 14th century. What did they get? They were deported, imprisoned, or killed. The issue wasn’t ungratefulness. The fact was that there was a seemingly unlimited supply of those who were just as capable and heroic. Their lords could simply replace them.

When you get people to rely on you, you get complete control over the circumstances. Controlling others is easier when they entirely depend on you. Therefore, never educate your subordinates to where they become self-sufficient.

StoryShot #2: Protect Your Reputation With Your Life

To gain authority, your reputation is essential. It’s possible to intimidate and win based only on your reputation. A good reputation might help you gain strength and keep prospective opponents guessing. It boosts your presence and powers without using a lot of energy.

Yet, if you tarnish that reputation, you’ll be open to assault from all sides. Create an impenetrable reputation for yourself. You should constantly monitor and mitigate prospective threats before they occur. 

As a young professional, build your authority from scratch. Establish yourself as hard-working, organized, and trustworthy. However, a single blunder might tarnish your good name.

You may make a fool of yourself on a single night out if you drink too much. If you turn up late or unprepared for an important meeting, it could damage your reputation.

What you want others to recognize you for and how you want to safeguard that image are two different things.  

StoryShot #3: Always Hide Your Intentions

Disclosing your real intent is rarely helpful. There’s the possibility of a heated debate if others don’t agree with you.

Make the human instinct to trust appearances work for you. Use red herrings and decoys to confuse your target audience. You can’t hide your true intentions by shutting yourself off from the world. Instead, discuss them endlessly—just not the ones you want to pursue. It will confuse your opponents if you appear kind, open, and trustworthy.

Disguise your behavior using smoke screens. People can only focus on one thing at a time. They can’t tell if the individual they’re engaging with has a different plan.

By hiding your motives, people will perceive you as pleasant and honest. It will lead them astray. By the time they understand what you’re up to, it’ll be too late. People trust the predictable, and therefore are less inclined to mistrust your motivations.

StoryShot #4: Don’t Appear Without Flaws

It’s always risky to appear superior to others. Yet, the most dangerous of all is to appear too perfect. Only the dead and the gods can appear flawless.

The more one strives to ‘look’ flawless, the more scrutinized one gets. Pressure and disappointment may follow. You’ll be most likely to be asked about your flaws in a job interview. The answer “none” is incorrect. The ideal response is to confess your weaknesses freely in insignificant areas.

Meanwhile, the spotlight will inevitably fall on you as you gain authority. You must not claim all the credit. Instead, act in such a manner that your “audience” sees your success as “attainable.”

Envy breeds silent adversaries. It causes others to be hypocritical or too prideful. Both are signs of approaching doom. It’s wise to exhibit flaws and admit to innocuous vices periodically. You may say luck helped your accomplishment or other circumstances. This way deflects jealousy and makes you look more human and approachable.

Joseph is an example of someone who could relate to this principle in the Bible. When he informed his brothers about his dream, it sparked jealousy. It wasn’t quite an “accomplishment” yet. But his achievement almost cost him his life because of his siblings’ envy.

StoryShot #5: Don’t Commit To Anyone

Do not commit yourself to any side or cause apart from your own. You keep control by retaining your independence – others will compete for your attention. You can also set the opposing factions against each other.

You lose all control over people if you allow them to believe they “own” you. In contrast, they will strive even more to win you over if you do not commit your feelings. Keep your distance, and you’ll have their full attention. The idea isn’t to scare them away or make it appear like you can’t commit. You must stir the pot, attract attention, and tempt others to have you.

Keep your distance from trivial quarrels. Pretend to be interested, but let others fight while you sit back and observe. It’s a common strategy to start a feud between two groups and gain influence by serving as a go-between.

StoryShot #6: It is Better To Speak Less Than You Need To

Avoid impressing others with words. The more you speak, the more familiar you look, and the less in control you appear. 

By talking less, influential people impress and terrify others. You are also prone to making a mistake and looking foolish if you talk frequently.

Here are some other pointers to keep in mind:

  • Silence irritates people, so they will jump in to fill it anxiously.
  • Saying less helps you look more sophisticated and mysterious.
  • Avoid sarcasm at all costs; it is rarely helpful.
  • By remaining silent, you risk raising suspicion or unease. Playing the jester might help you blend in.

StoryShot #7: Associating With Unhappy People Is One Of The Easiest Ways To Harm Oneself

That may come out as harsh, but it’s the truth. Such individuals are frequently not victims of chance, as they would have you think. Instead, they intentionally (and quietly) aim to harm themselves and others.

Remember that people’s emotions, thoughts, and beliefs are contagious even if they don’t mean it. The more you expose yourself to such people, the more likely you will become collateral damage.

Don’t attempt to help them, explain yourself, or fight with them. Don’t even pass on these kinds of people to friends. Greene calls these people “infectors”. If you feel you’re related to an infector, immediately cut your connections and escape from there. Anything less puts you in grave danger of being deeply enmeshed in their issues.

Here’s what you can do instead. Make the most of the wit, accomplishment, and wisdom of individuals who make you happy. Allow their good characteristics to “infect” you and make you feel better.

StoryShot #8: Always Appeal To People’s Self-Interest, Rather Than Their Mercy Or Appreciation

Requesting help is an art that requires understanding the other person’s needs. Even the most prominent figure has desires. If you don’t appeal to their interests, they will dismiss you as pathetic or a waste of time.

When you beg and cry for aid, no one will listen. Most people are just disinterested in supporting you because of their issues and interests.

Appeal to someone’s self-interest if you want anything from them. Consider what a person genuinely wants. Know what will make them happy or fulfill their aspirations. If you can provide it to them, they will do whatever you wish as long as you’re dangling the carrot. Trying to induce shame in them by bringing up the past is always a bad idea.

However, sometimes appealing to someone’s charity is preferable. Hence, you must determine their personality. If they want to help you for pride or vanity reasons, you should not appeal to their greed. If they aren’t concerned about being charitable, then play to their selfish motivations.

StoryShot #9: When Trying To Outsmart Your Opponents, Gather As Much Information As Possible

To outsmart your adversary, you’ll need to befriend them. You may learn about their weaknesses, aspirations, and desires while influencing their decisions.

While recruiting informants is one method of gathering information, it is perilous. How do you know if they are double agents and provide reliable information? As a result, being your own spy is preferable. By acting unexpectedly, you can get an advantage over your rival. It will leave them puzzled and trailing behind while they try to figure out your plan.

StoryShot #10: Isolation Is Harmful. Don’t Create Fortresses To Protect Yourself

Don’t venture inside your thoughts alone; it’s a scary area.

Isolation will cause you to create a blurry vision on your own. We all need other people’s viewpoints, even if they are erroneous. Other points of view will help develop your own idea.

WARNING! The urge to cut off friends and family is dangerous in the short-term and futile in the long-term.

A trustworthy community can keep you sane during the grind. It also serves as a helpful sounding board.

People attempting to achieve something rarely get it right on the first try. Mistakes will inevitably occur. But having confidence may help you escape your thoughts and get back into action. It is a virtue to be resilient.

Final Summary and Review of The 48 Laws of Power

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene is a self-help book based on the lives of historical figures. It teaches us how to get and sustain power.

There are many ways in which power plays a role in society and our lives. The author distilled three centuries of history to educate us about this concept.

We can summarize the critical ideas mentioned above into the following six main points:

  1. To wield power, first build trust with the people you are trying to influence.
  2. Adaptability and timing are essential to maintaining power.
  3. To connect with the powerful, create spectacles. Fuel the audience’s belief in the impossible.
  4. You may gain power through mirroring and controlling the opposition’s alternatives.
  5. To gain a tactical advantage, use selective honesty, diversion, and a surplus of secrecy.
  6. Create captivating images to gain respect and dispel any doubts about your talent.                                                                                

Greene asks you to think of power play as a game. The book helps us understand ourselves, our friends, and the world better.

To be a master of the power game, you must practice the following:

  1. Accept masquerades and deceptions as a typical element of human engagement.
  2. Examine the past and future to detect problems.
  3. Learn and practice new abilities, including mastering your emotions.
  4. Adjust your perspective.
  5. Don’t judge people based on their stated goals, but on their actual results. Many people who claim they don’t want power are naive or manipulative.


Some readers find The 48 Laws of Power disturbing. There are no moral judgments in Greene’s handling of power; it is only a means to an end, with no regard for good or evil. The book states you are driven to get power and influence by whatever means. While not all historical examples are directly pertinent, there are echoes of them in modern business. The better you understand these ideas, the easier it will be to defend yourself.

Others find the laws do not empower you. Instead, because of ongoing mistrust and contempt for others, it fosters a state of paranoia. You may not adhere to the law. Instead, you’re encouraging yourself to continue with the awful choices you have already made. Everyone has these ideas; the issue arises when you act on them. Using someone else’s flawed logic to support your own may be dangerous. Your vision of the world and your sense of security may soon degrade.


We rate The 48 Laws of Power 4.5/5. How would you rate Robert Greene’s book based on this summary?

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The 48 Laws of Power List and Chapter by Chapter Quotes

The 48 Laws of Power PDF, Free Audiobook, Animated Book Summary and Chapter Infographic

Comment below and let others know what you have learned or if you have any other thoughts.

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This was the tip of the iceberg. To dive into the details, order the book or get the audiobook for free on Amazon.

Editor’s Note

Life gets busy. Has The 48 Laws of Power been on your reading list? Instead, learn the key insights now with this book summary by chapters.

We’re scratching the surface here. If you don’t already have Robert Greene’s classic book on establishing power and influence, order it here or get the audiobook for free to learn the juicy details.

Disclaimer: This is an unofficial summary and analysis.

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  1. It is a great app for listening and reading summary of Great books. The summary of “48 laws of power” book is helping me to understand the possibility to become Leader in me.

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