"Learning the game of power requires a certain way of looking at the world, a shifting of perspective," writes Robert Greene. Mastery of one's emotions and the arts of deception and indirection are, he goes on to assert, essential. The 48 laws outlined in this book "have a simple premise: certain actions always increase one's power ... while others decrease it and even ruin us."
The laws cull their principles from many great schemers--and scheming instructors--throughout history, from Sun-Tzu to Talleyrand, from Casanova to con man Yellow Kid Weil. They are straightforward in their amoral simplicity: "Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit," or "Discover each man's thumbscrew." Each chapter provides examples of the consequences of observance or transgression of the law, along with "keys to power," potential "reversals" (where the converse of the law might also be useful), and a single paragraph cleverly laid out to suggest an image (such as the aforementioned thumbscrew); the margins are filled with illustrative quotations. Practitioners of one-upmanship have been given a new, comprehensive training manual, as up-to-date as it is timeless.
Greene is a screenwriter, playwright, and professional researcher. Elffers "packages" books; among his "products" are a book on fruit carving called Play with Your Food
(1997) and a book of "personology" profiles called The Secret Language of Birthdays
(1994). Greene spent two years compiling and synthesizing this collection of prescriptions for obtaining and wielding power. Besides the obvious inclusion of Machiavelli, Sun-Tzu, and von Clausewitz, there are observations from P. T. Barnum, "Swifty" Lazar, and Clifton Fadiman. In all, hundreds of quotes from 3,000 years of history and lore are included. Each "law" is summarized and a demonstration of its application is provided, supported by the quotes Greene unearthed. The index and bibliography that will come with final publication will make this a usable reference work in addition to one that provides fascinating entertainment. David Rouse