As a Christian I find myself struggling with these laws and approaches to power. Maybe I am naive when it comes to power, or too idealistic. This book seems to outline all the dirty tricks played by politicians to stay in power. The author seems to recommend some of the behavior we naturally disapprove of as an acceptable means to power.
So why did I listen to the whole thing? I thought about returning the book after listening to the first chapter. But I realized that even though I may dislike these "laws of power" they are at play in the world I live in. And even thought I do not believe I will ever live by the majority of these laws, being aware of them has helped open my eyes to what is going on around me.
So I would not highly recommend this book because there is little emphasis, if any, in character. But the book is useful in pointing out how people acquire and maintain power, and there is a benefit to being aware of how power can work.
It's up there. The narration was great, keeping one interested throughout the book. Really enjoyed how the narrator could adopt the tone of the various characters. The stories were great too, I just would have liked to see more contemporary examples of power plays. I read 33 strategies of war by the same author, so I knew the story was likely to be good, and I was not disappointed. Lots of vignettes and short chapters, so easy to pick up again if your attention wanders.
This is a book that I have been meaning to read for years. It was very close to what I expected it to be. I didn't expect it to be as contradictory as it was. Every law has a caveat. So laws only work up to a certain point then they backfire.
What I liked were the historical references, as I appreciated concrete examples. In the future I'll listen to it again and maybe I'll like it a bit more. Given that the manipulative aspect of so many of the 'laws' are so different from how I go about the world maybe I'm uncomfortable feeling so naive. I'll stay open to give it another shot someday as one never knows how one will feel. Also, it ended too abruptly.
Unlike many others who dislike the book I don't find the content immoral. It does spell out human nature accurately. However many of the stories are related and interpreted in a retrospective and highly arbitrary way. Did the manipulators and the executors of these tricks and strategies intentionally behave the way they did? Some sure did vast majority probably did not.
Their actions turned out well because of good fortune and retrospective reinterpretation. To deliberate apply these tricks would promise only disaster. Also it is ridiculous for anyone to assimilate these 48 laws- how much conscious effort must you possess? I believe mindfulness of your surroundings and a cultivated sensitivity (ability to read the air) are all you need to achieve success, effortlessly, without you even being aware of it, and often in a much more moral way without hurting as many people. For these reasons this is perhaps one of the most worthless books I have ever read because the idea of learning "social tricks"; promises functionality but is misleading in practice.
We Chinese have a saying, there are countless tricks/techniques to conquer the world, the highest one being a sincere and kind heart. It's too damn easy to be calculating and mean, it's next to impossible to remain sincere and kind. I guess that's where the real magic is.
If this is what you need to do to be powerful then, I'm out. It was all about make people believe your illusions and essentially lying to them. They even have a chapter adorably named "5 steps of cult making", yup five simple steps.
Once you get beyond 10 laws of anything,, what do you expect? This book is much more of an exhaustive treating of how power works than a "how to be powerful" self-help book. And the lesson the listener quickly learns is that power is highly situational, the laws of power are not mutually exclusive. They overlap in a complex landscape in which the author shares many stories about how things can go wrong. Any one law is later refuted by another law and it is never simple to know which one is the better way. This is not lost on the author. I believe this is much more of a reference book. An encyclopedia of power that one should keep handy and review every once in a while. Listening to it, front-to-back is not the best way to approach and appreciate this book.