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The 48 Laws of Power

By Robert Greene

*A Book Review*

by Michael C. Gray

© 2016 by Michael C. Gray

There is a "dark side" to human relations most of us don't care to acknowledge. We prefer the "light side" of love, caring, and encouragement.

When we think of the "dark side", many of us think of Machiavelli and the Borgias. The ruthless exercise of power. There is a dangerous edge to it. Even Machiavelli's beloved "Prince," Cesare Borgia, fell after the death of his father, Pope Alexander VI.

In The 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene explores the subject of power from top to bottom, with an amoral point of view. The book is a fascinating examination of history and its implications. I found it rather sickening to read, because a lot of human history about the exercise of power isn't very pleasant. This is not a "light and breezy" book. Time and again, people reached peaks of power and then fell. Today you might enjoy opulence and favor and tomorrow fall in disfavor and lose your head.

Here is an example in Chapter 48: "Preach the need for change, but never reform too much." Thomas Cromwell persuaded King Henry VIII to sever ties with the Roman Catholic Church so that Henry could be divorced and marry Anne Boleyn. Then Cromwell instituted Protestant reforms, including closing the monasteries, destroying sacred relics and banning sacraments. He also raised taxes to finance his reforms. The population revolted and threatened to topple Henry VIII from the throne. When Cromwell proposed Anne of Cleves, a homely woman who was oversold as attractive, as a bride for Henry, Cromwell was arrested as a heretic and executed.

In addition to the historical references, almost every chapter includes quotations, fables and stories with lessons revolving around power.

After reading this book, you might be less inclined to engage in power plays such as office politics, but be glad you are better able to recognize when you are being manipulated or "set up." On the other hand, you might decide to embrace the "dark side!" Either way, you'll find the book of value, although you might be inclined to use some mouthwash after your read it.

Buy it on Amazon: The 48 Laws of Power.

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