The 48 Laws of Power
Robert Greene
Contributed by Jack Shields

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Robert Greene
Year Published
About the Title

Pulling anecdotes from a number of Asian and European cultures, including the infamous characters like Niccolò Machiavelli or the French diplomat Talleyrand, Greene demonstrates persuasive theory in practice. Each law is full of rich historical stories and narratives, and some chapters even contain counterexamples to show that when practiced poorly, these laws can backfire hard. Often cited as a text for those questioning their lack of confidence or ability to persuade others, Robert Greene’s work “The 48 Laws of Power” has transformed in its purpose, picking up cult followings in a number of niche, radicalized groups. For instance, consider that the rise of feminism coupled with the retention and expectation of traditional responsibilities for men may have resulted in many isolated pockets of individuals subject to confusing, unfamiliar, and inverted double standards (i.e. which genders can hit each other, is it socially acceptable for men to be stay-at-home dads, etc.) True or not, the important point here is that there always will exist a population that feels disenfranchised and powerless, looking for some method to escape their own negative psychologies or what they feel as entrapping circumstances. In recency, “The 48 Laws of Power” and its implication that it might imbue the reader with persuasive powers that they were excluded from learning in youth has bolstered its presence as a sort of manual for those believing themselves to be too passive and weak to contend with others. Regardless of the intent, Greene provides his readers with a treasure chest of historical examples to demonstrate courtly principles that govern persuasion and how to position yourself to have the “upper hand” in certain social situations.

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