80 pages 2 hours read

Robert Greene

The 48 Laws Of Power

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1998

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

Preface and Laws 1-16

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Preface Summary

For Greene, power play is an inevitable aspect of being alive. From the feudal courts to the present day, people have engaged in a double game of seeking power whilst maintaining the appearance of refinement and guilelessness. If we opt out of the power game, we will wind up powerless and miserable under-performers in all areas of life.

Greene believes that while Western society promotes democracy and fairness, if we take these traits “too literally, we are crushed by those around us who are not so foolish” (25). Similarly, the much-valued trait of honesty can leave us powerless and unable to influence others because we will continually be insulting them. Instead, we should accept that “all human interaction requires deception on many levels, and in some ways what separates humans from animals is our ability to lie and deceive” (31). For Greene, duplicity and manipulation are natural, while the veneer of innocence or morality is often a front for a more sophisticated power game.

The acquisition of power depends upon the mastery of skills, such as control over one’s emotions, patience, and an ability to learn from the past and anticipate potential future problems. We must learn to study people and understand their motivations in order to win social influence.