Monday, July 14, 2008

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene-- Jimmy's perspective

History has seen the rise and fall of many powerful people. Some were considered civilized, others barbarians. Robert Greene, in his book The 48 Laws of Power, has taken the lessons that history and its powerful inhabitants have taught and condensed them into 48 compact and memorable rules. As Greene says in the foreword, these rules can be used to protect yourself from those in power or, if you choose to, take power in any situation or dynamic for yourself.

The contents page of the book rarely seems important unless your knee deep in a last minute cram session. In the case of this text, each law is listed as a chapter and given a concise summary for memory's sake. Even at this point the bold design of Joost Ellfers is creeping through the text. It's also becoming apparent what Greene thinks the nature of power really is.

The body of the text reads quickly with accessible and intelligent prose. Example after historical example are cited with stunning clarity, demonstrating the massive amounts of research dedicated to this book. Many books based on history tend to focus on one period or region of the world simpluy because information is easier to find, etc. etc. Whatever those reasons may be, Greene skirts them an delivers a well rounded cache of sources from European, Asian, African, and Western history.

Mixed in with all this information are supplemental anecdotes printed in the margins. These additions not only aid the information on the page but are aesthetically pleasing because of their color and typography. Even sections of the text itself stray from the tradition block formation to take on more interesting layouts to further illustrate its points.

The rules Greene synthesized from all of history do seem to make sense... If you want to rule over people and have no friends whatsoever. The notions of trust and loyalty are absent from all 48 edicts, reminding the reader how much of the text is based off Machiavellian principles and how friggin' lonely Machiavelli probably was.

The 48 laws of power is suitable for lobbyists or those that wish to combat power people, but not for other social settings. That being said, possessing the knowledge this book offers seem the ounce of prevention that, unfortunately, many people need.

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