The 48 Laws of Power
Robert Greene
Contributed by Jack Shields

The 48 laws of Power is a book written by Robert Greene presenting a detailed series of ideas that he developed while working in Hollywood as a writer. Greene concluded that the most influential people in the modern world share similar characteristics (Felder 35). In the year 1995, Greene got a job at Fabrica, an art media school, as a writer where he met Joost Elffers, a book packager. Greene shared his ideas regarding the power book to Elffers whom after six months requested him to write a treatment (Eureka 206). Although Robert was not happy with his job at Fabrica, he was comfortable with it and never wanted to risk losing it by creating time to write a proper proposal.

However, one time when he was reading Julius Caesar’s biography, he was inspired by Caesar’s decision to cross River Rubicon and fight Pompey, an act that led to the start of the Great Roman Civil war. Greene then wrote the statement that becomes The 48 Laws of Power (Start Publishing Notes 35).  The book was published in the year 2000. It acts as a practical guide for the person who wants power, observes power or even wants to protect themselves against powerful people. The laws have gathered events 3000 years in the history of power and drawing examples from the lives of prominent and historical figures, for instance, Henry Kissinger and Niccolo Machiavelli.

The 48 Laws of Power was well received as he sold more than 1.2 million copies in the United States of America. It has also been translated into 24 languages. The book changed Greene’s life and turned him into a hero. The First Company also referred to the book as a “Mega cult classic.” The book is reported to have been studied as first-year texts in some United States colleges. Besides, it is highly requested in American prisons libraries (Felder 76). The 48 Laws of Power has been mentioned by celebrated musicians such as Jay Z, Kanye West, and Drake in their songs. Greene’s book has also received criticism as some term it as based on isolated principals, manipulative and immoral. Some people, for example, argue no research proves that any of the 48 laws can yield positive results.

Robert Greene was born of Jewish parents in 14th May 1959 in Los Angeles, California. He was raised in California where he joined the University of California Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin where he graduated with a degree in classical studies (Waterlow & Andrea 96). Greene worked 80 jobs among them being a construction worker, movie writer, and translator before becoming an author. It is while working as a writer at Fabrica art and media school in Italy that he met Elffers, the book packager whom he discussed with the idea of the book The 48 Laws of Power. Greene has lived in Barcelona and Paris which have enabled him to speak several languages. To add to that his experience as a translator, he has also significantly contributed to his career.  Apart from The 48 Laws of Power, Greene has authored like The 33 Strategies of War, The 50th Law, The Art of Seduction and Mastery.

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