Summary: One might view this book as a guide for psychopaths. Certainly the contents might be construed as evil. An interesting read, even if only to understand how some people behave. Some of the laws are contradictory, as you might expect. It’s sold over a million copies.
Notes: The 48 laws are as follows:
Law 1: Never Outshine the Master. Basically, suck up to those above you and make them look good. Don’t display so much talent that they start to fear you.
Law 2: Never put too Much Trust in Friends, Learn how to use Enemies
Law 3: Conceal your Intentions. Don’t reveal the purpose behind your actions, don’t give people a chance to prepare defences.
Law 4: Always Say Less than Necessary. Powerful people impress by saying less.
Law 5: So Much Depends on Reputation – Guard it with your Life. You reputation lets you intimidate.
Law 6: Court Attention at all Cost. Everything is judged by its appearance. Don’t get lost in the crowd. Stand out. Appear larger or more colourful.
Law 7: Get others to do the Work for you, but Always Take the Credit. Never do yourself what others can do for you.
Law 8: Make other People come to you – use Bait if Necessary. It is better to make an opponent come to you,
Law 9: Win through your Actions, Never through Argument. Winning an argument is pointless, better to get others to agree with you through your actions
Law 10: Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky
Law 11: Learn to Keep People Dependent on You. Must always be needed and wanted. Make people depend on you for their happiness and prosperity.
Law 12: Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm your Victim. One sincere and honest move will cover over dozens of dishonest ones.
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. Never let an enemy recover and seek revenge.
Law 16: Use Absence to Increase Respect and Honor. Once established in a group, temporary withdrawal makes you more admired.
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. Some people react very badly to being deceived or manipulated.
Law 20: Do Not Commit to Anyone. Don’t take sides,
Law 21: Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker – Seem Dumber than your Mark. Basically, make your victims feel like they’re smarter than you.
Law 22: Use the Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness into Power. If you’re weak, surrender rather than fight and bide your time.
Law 23: Concentrate Your Forces
Law 24: Play the Perfect Courtier
Law 25: Re-Create Yourself. Forge a new, interesting identity. Don’t let others define it for you.
Law 26: Keep Your Hands Clean. Use others as scapegoats, disguise your involvement.
Law 27: Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cultlike Following
Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness. If you’re not sure, don’t try. Audacious mistakes can be fixed, no-one admires the timid
Law 29: Plan All the Way to the End
Law 30: Make your Accomplishments Seem Effortless. All the effort and tricks must be concealed. Make it seem like you could do more.
Law 31: Control the Options: Get Others to Play with the Cards you Deal
Law 32: Play to People’s Fantasies. Don’t appeal to truth, people like those who can produce romance or fantasy.
Law 33: Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew. Everyone has a weakness
Law 34: Be Royal in your Own Fashion: Act like a King to be treated like one
Law 35: Master the Art of Timing. Never seem to be in a hurry, always seem patient.
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. Don’t flaunt your unconventional ideas and ways,
Law 39: Stir up Waters to Catch Fish. You stay calm and objective but make your enemies angry.
Law 40: Despise the Free Lunch. Things of value are worth paying for.
Law 41: Avoid Stepping into a Great Man’s Shoes
Law 42: Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep will Scatter. Trouble can often be traced to a single individual.
Law 43: Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others
Law 44: Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect. If you mirror your enemies, they cannot work out your strategy.
Law 45: Preach the Need for Change, but Never Reform too much at Once.
Law 46: Never appear too Perfect. Seeming better than others is dangerous, don’t appear to have no faults or weaknesses.
Law 47: Do not go Past the Mark you Aimed for; In Victory, Learn when to Stop.
Law 48: Assume Formlessness. Once you have a shape or plan, you are open to attack.