Robert Greene: Power, Seduction, and War

Is it better to be feared or loved?

Many have heard of Machiavelli’s “The Prince” and many of Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” but how about Robert Greene? I personally hadn’t until I saw a 50 cent interview* on CNBC. During the course of the interview I found out he co-wrote a book called The 50th Law with our featured individual, Robert Greene. So guess what I did next?

I googled him.

Hailed as almost a prophet by the hip-hop/rap community, Robert Greene has created the modern “Art of War” and “The Prince” rolled** into one. Something straight out of The Godfather!*** I generally find it really interesting to see how people perceive and execute power dynamics these days. You can learn a lot through mere observation.

So without further hesitation, here is but a taste of his insight…

The Laws – The 48 Laws of Power

  • Law 1 Never Outshine the Master
  • Law 2 Never put too Much Trust in Friends, Learn how to use Enemies
  • Law 3 Conceal your Intentions
  • Law 4 Always Say Less than Necessary
  • Law 5 So Much Depends on Reputation. Guard it with your Life
  • Law 6 Court Attention at all Cost
  • Law 7 Get others to do the Work for you, but Always Take the Credit
  • Law 8 Make other People come to you, use Bait if Necessary
  • Law 9 Win through your Actions, Never through Argument
  • Law 10 Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky
  • Law 11 Learn to Keep People Dependent on You
  • Law 12 Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm your Victim
  • Law 13 When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to their Mercy or Gratitude
  • Law 14 Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy
  • Law 15 Crush your Enemy Totally
  • Law 16 Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor
  • Law 17 Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate an Air of Unpredictability
  • Law 18 Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself. Isolation is Dangerous
  • Law 19 Know Who You’re Dealing with. Do Not Offend the Wrong Person
  • Law 20 Do Not Commit to Anyone
  • Law 21 Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker. Seem Dumber than your Mark
  • Law 22 Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness into Power
  • Law 23 Concentrate Your Forces
  • Law 24 Play the Perfect Courtier
  • Law 25 Re-Create Yourself
  • Law 26 Keep Your Hands Clean
  • Law 27 Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cultlike Following
  • Law 28 Enter Action with Boldness
  • Law 29 Plan All the Way to the End
  • Law 30 Make your Accomplishments Seem Effortless
  • Law 31 Control the Options: Get Others to Play with the Cards you Deal
  • Law 32 Play to People’s Fantasies
  • Law 33 Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew
  • Law 34 Be Royal in your Own Fashion: Act like a King to be treated like one
  • Law 35 Master the Art of Timing
  • Law 36 Disdain Things you cannot have: Ignoring them is the best Revenge
  • Law 37 Create Compelling Spectacles
  • Law 38 Think as you like but Behave like others
  • Law 39 Stir up Waters to Catch Fish
  • Law 40 Despise the Free Lunch
  • Law 41 Avoid Stepping into a Great Man’s Shoes
  • Law 42 Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep will Scatter
  • Law 43 Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others
  • Law 44 Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect
  • Law 45 Preach the Need for Change, but Never Reform too much at Once
  • Law 46 Never appear Perfect
  • Law 47 Do not go Past the Mark you Aimed for; In Victory, Learn when to Stop
  • Law 48 Assume Formlessness

One line summarizations of these laws obviously serve no justice but its cool to see the scope of the topic at hand. Want the Cliffnotes version of these laws? Click hurrr. I personally haven’t read the books YET but I couldn’t wait to share! Can you blame me?

So what does this all mean? What can we learn from this? Apart from being incredibly interesting and a fantastic dinner conversation, we can easily apply it to our own lives. The boss man keeping you down? How does he wield power? Girlfriend got you by the balls? How does she do it!? Just try to think about it for a hot second. Things become pretty clear, pretty fast.

oh yeah.

As if I hadn’t said enough… You can download a free taste of Roberte Greene yourself! Its a short read too! Only twenty two pages! It’s called The Descent of Power.


* Turns out he is actually a very intelligent and well-spoke guy

**Could mash-up or remix been a better word choice?

*** The Godfather was HEAVILY influenced by “The Prince.”

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4 responses to “Robert Greene: Power, Seduction, and War”

  1. elvalentino says :

    Nice post here, I read the decent of power by R. Greene. It’s really fascinating to read works
    by a man who can think pragmatically and interpret the world for how it’s really is.

    One of the things which would be fascinating to read is an interpretion of the ‘laws’. You
    say your girl ‘grabs you by the balls’ what do you mean by that and how would you see your way passed it. Thanks for the post

    • Dan Fonseca says :

      Hey! Thanks for the comment. Sorry for the late response, I have been in the middle of quite the move but all things should be settled and unpacked for now. So here’s the response:

      I use that term rather generously. Often we hear the phrase, “wears the pants” thrown around when describing personal relationships. Though, in a perfect relationship both parties would have equal say, it’s the reality that there is usually one actor who yields a little more authority than the other. In a humorous application to that, the phrase “grab you by the balls” is illustrating that women often drive the relationship, especially in today’s ever-changing 21st century world. This is not to say that she is some sort of relationship dictator or anything silly like that, I simply state that to show you that laws of power can be applied to most relationships. Knowing this, maybe you can observe the tactics being used; consciously or unconsciously. Knowing where the person derives authority could be the source of balancing it out. Isn’t that a good way to keep couples sane and equal?

      Just my own personal thought. What about you?


  2. elvalentino says :

    personally don’t believe that the 48 laws of power contain the common ways in which woman manipulate.. don’t get me wrong, they could still USE those tactics but I believe the way woman manipulate is through emotional means, like double binds or bait and switches

    woman look to take control of a man psyche and test his leadership skills which in the long run ends up in a divorce, where the guy is cherishing the woman but the woman is detesting the man.

    To be in power means to be conscious of any form of manipulation (good or bad) but more so to lead a woman passed any negative types and toward a positive healthy relationship.

    I think guys should be empowered and active when it comes to relationships but not to the point where he is like a slaver owner and makes a woman feel imprisoned. Rather loving and caring but still in control

    • Dan Fonseca says :

      I feel as if that statement could be said for both parties especially in today’s world where women are generally equal on the emotional playing field. I personally beleive there is a power shift slowly happening; the shift from a male dominated society to a female one. We have seen it in ancient times and I think we are starting to see it now. Have you seen the latest talks? Seems to be the theme. Either way, Thanks!


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