Main The 48 Laws of Power
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I don't read it yet. Soo.... Yah
04 January 2019 (15:31)
Best one, I've read so far.... <3
31 July 2019 (20:31)
This version is unrevised toooo many verbal errors
27 September 2019 (13:17)
Love the book, read it once every 3 months. One gets to know how to deal with different characters
22 May 2020 (04:52)
Best book that ever seen.
08 July 2020 (06:53)
iam very happy to read this book
26 July 2020 (18:34)
good to read,good to undestanding lots of things
good to read,good to undestanding lots of things
08 August 2020 (20:30)
Great book! It exposes a lot of things about life, including the need to maintain control over things!
15 August 2020 (08:17)
Wow I never read it buh I know is goin to be real....!!!!
22 August 2020 (10:44)
The book about how life works. From past to present to future. Always uptodate. The one and only book you have to read, even if you hate books imo.
06 December 2020 (00:34)
insta - cmod.sh
30 December 2020 (04:19)
How to download this in Android
31 December 2020 (06:22)
The wife between us
07 January 2021 (04:49)
Its in epub format. Download an EPUB reader so you can read it
12 January 2021 (01:13)
The Best book for people who are looking for a politic position
22 January 2021 (06:39)
angelo book reader
i like to read book
22 February 2021 (22:22)
UNA PREGUNTA COMO PUEDO ENPEZAR A LEERLOS Q ME INTERESA LEERLOS PERO NOSE COMO LEERLOS
06 March 2021 (07:05)
?... I love this app
25 March 2021 (17:24)
puedes usar calibre app o cualquier lector de libros electronicos @Cristian
27 March 2021 (09:25)
Great book but to be used cautiously ?
31 March 2021 (06:36)
One thing You will learn in this book is never to remain in power! Read this entire comment because this comment is good.
First thing the book is cool and pointwise .
If you don't wanna read some examples then you can just skip. Some examples and some laws are too old and cannot be used in current world.
Why I am telling these things to you all? Am I mad?
Well, one reason is I want everyone to be powerful but then the definition of powerful will change. So real reason is I am bored reading this medieval book so just typing some words. That's it . Do not read some trivial examples since they are tackled in current generation.
First thing the book is cool and pointwise .
If you don't wanna read some examples then you can just skip. Some examples and some laws are too old and cannot be used in current world.
Why I am telling these things to you all? Am I mad?
Well, one reason is I want everyone to be powerful but then the definition of powerful will change. So real reason is I am bored reading this medieval book so just typing some words. That's it . Do not read some trivial examples since they are tackled in current generation.
17 April 2021 (16:54)
Wow!????, the book really inspires me!!!!
18 April 2021 (07:33)
I love the idea of self esteem and this book really explains that plus it's a lot of exciting things happening and I have profound interests that I look forward to practising. It's a fascination with the explanations that keeps me intrigued. Thanks for this Robert Green!
18 April 2021 (08:36)
Comment arrivez vous à télécharger les livres dans leur entièreté ?
veuillez m'aider SVP
veuillez m'aider SVP
24 April 2021 (13:50)
Very cool book about power and unity , when is the next mass shooting?
05 May 2021 (17:30)
Best books ever seen
15 May 2021 (16:23)
Realistic observance of our nature
05 June 2021 (04:48)
Best book have read this year so far...
24 June 2021 (14:06)
This book is meh. The real deal of power, manipulation and jocking bitches requires an understanding of the dark arts. IF you like this, you should read How to Be a Motherfucking Pimp by Dazzle Razzle. That book will set you on the path running game proper
28 June 2021 (11:50)
This is not a parenting book.
29 June 2021 (02:56)
BOOK IS SUPERB BUT TOO MUCH SPELLING MISTAKE
29 June 2021 (08:47)
It has a lot of errors i was disappointed. I searched unfamiliar words just to find out that it's a non-existent word BECAUSE IT IS A TYPOGRAPHICAL ERROR! DANG
04 July 2021 (16:05)
I really like this book
I learned a lot from it. Big ups
I learned a lot from it. Big ups
04 July 2021 (23:07)
the bla person gave me a laugh wat is dat supposed to mean
07 July 2021 (11:08)
@Piana - the blah person gave me a laugh too ??
11 July 2021 (08:16)
The book has a great amount of errors however you can figure it out if you can get the real book i recommend you do but if you can’t this is still great
13 July 2021 (05:33)
This version has formatting errors and incomplete table of contents. The "Profile Books" publisher version is best for .epub. ISBN 9781861972781
13 July 2021 (18:45)
It is unreadable, it doesn't even look English
17 July 2021 (03:53)
Is this complete?
23 July 2021 (19:19)
this book is toxic i see why it's banned
17 August 2021 (14:30)
It's poorly edited and hard to read. Also missing chunks of text.
27 August 2021 (06:18)
It's a fraud. Be careful guys
29 August 2021 (02:37)
I agree, this book is toxic
04 September 2021 (23:24)
I really want to listen to these books
09 September 2021 (06:45)
This book is amazing it has taught me a lot of things
15 September 2021 (00:38)
How tf do I open it to read
25 September 2021 (20:43)
gonna read it in case i was sent to prison or smth
01 October 2021 (12:55)
Its really a good book i like to highlight the important one it gives you a lesson that you can apply in life maybe at work,school So on and so for your very welcome
29 October 2021 (16:42)
This book is one of the greatest book of all times. To pardner it with the 33 strategies of war for great results
19 November 2021 (16:13)
When a book ? is banned from the library of prisons cause of what’s written inside maybe used by said prisoners it certainly warrants a deep analysis don’t you think?
24 November 2021 (13:53)
Pretty toxic outlook, only useful when selectively used in certain aspects of life (like climbing the corporate ladder). This should not be used as a guide for romantic and other intimate relationships unless you're a sociopath.
30 November 2021 (04:24)
Too many spelling mistakes
05 December 2021 (23:26)
Is this site legitimate?
08 December 2021 (20:41)
@Shera yeah it is, I've already downloaded quite a few books. So far, my pc hasn't gone to the shitter so it's safe.
15 December 2021 (05:48)
This book is a smart ass. Some people hate on this book bc it is toxic. I mean yeah, so? Isn't life toxic on its own? I mean it's on you, you wanna be toxic or stupid?
This is a great great book.
READ. THIS. NOW. BOZO.
This is a great great book.
READ. THIS. NOW. BOZO.
19 December 2021 (01:11)
It did not download on my email
22 December 2021 (08:23)
File wasn't able to open by any of my apps on my smartphone to read.
23 December 2021 (22:13)
This version has too many error
14 January 2022 (15:10)
Best book I ever read.
27 January 2022 (08:50)
Can I read this in my android phone??
09 February 2022 (19:38)
To read the book / epub files, you need an app such as ReadEra, or Lithium.
Both can be found on the google play store.
On PC you can use Calibre.
Both can be found on the google play store.
On PC you can use Calibre.
10 February 2022 (19:56)
good luck readers i love this book
22 February 2022 (21:04)
the quality is awful way too much errors and typos
27 February 2022 (01:56)
The book is extremely theoretical. Everything here is theory. The theory is amazing tho. Don't get me wrong. I just wish there was a practical way to engrave these theories in the subconscious mind, coz let me tell you one thing. You're gonna forget all of this. Or better yet, get tired of following instructions or not care about it because u have to deal with real life problems. Unplanned Pregnancy, Getting fired or losing a job, Having a parent die. The book sounds great in a perfect world tho.
02 March 2022 (16:51)
Left the book halfway, literally the most toxic thing you can ever read. You'll never be able to build relationships with anyone if you followed all this crap and will die alone in your bed.
08 March 2022 (12:06)
I so much love my husband and I was ready to do whatever it take to make sure we get back together after 3 years of painful breakup, i want us to live happily forever, I’m so happy sharing my testimony how my husband came back to me, lots of people are going through breakup, If anyone out there having relationship break down I will advice you to contact ((Robinson.buckler))@yahoo. com, and your story will never remain the same, Thank you sir for also getting me cured from herpes simplex. I will forever be grateful_______________________________
11 March 2022 (23:05)
the book reads funny on my tablet. pieces mixed up and shit. but i got through it regardless. cant complain it was free. its a good book. really makes you think.
29 March 2022 (13:29)
jizzstainman. that was.... way too.. specific..
26 April 2022 (22:22)
I downloaded this out of curiosity. It's more like how to be an asshole.
I found some laws interesting but I won't read any further.
Also there is a lot of formatting errors in this that makes it hard to read.
I found some laws interesting but I won't read any further.
Also there is a lot of formatting errors in this that makes it hard to read.
13 May 2022 (11:12)
My friend came to me and told me that he saw many testimonies on how a Man cured people from herpes diseases. Thou I never believe at first, I said to myself “I had to believe” I did my search, I saw many testimonies myself. Quickly, I copied his email, I emailed him, he requested for some information for delivery, then i purchased the herbal medicine And he sent it to me, i received it after some few days, then i took as prescribed then with little faith, after taking it for 2 weeks and some days. i went for check up, I was tested HSV negative. I promise to tell the world about him. You can contact via email Robinson.buckler@yahoo. com !!.......................
I am so happy,..
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I am so happy,..
(4) URINARY TRACT INFECTION,
(10)SIMPLEX HERPES AND GENITAL
14 May 2022 (13:28)
This is book amazing ! I read mind blowing.....!!!
20 May 2022 (20:50)
Trust me, this is literally the last book you need in your life. Full of toxic things that will ruin your relationship with everyone. You'll just get a sense of power from this, not actual power along with losing all the happiness in your life. If you still wanna take a step towards ruining your life, go ahead.
21 May 2022 (14:46)
48 Laws of Power 48 Laws of Power 48 Laws of Power LAW 1 NEVER OUTSHINE THE MASTER Always make those above you feel comfortably superior. In your desire to please or impress them, do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might accomplish the oppositeinspire fear and insecurity. Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power. LAW 2 NEVER PUT TOO MUCH TRUST IN FRIENDS, LEARN HOW TO USE ENEMIES Be wary of friendsthey will betray you more quickly, for they are easily aroused to envy. They also become spoiled and tyrannical. But hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove. In fact, you have more to fear from friends than from enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make them. LAW 3 CONCEAL YOUR INTENTIONS Keep people off-balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions. If they have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense. Guide them far enough down the wrong path, envelop them in enough smoke, and by the time they realize your intentions, it will be too late. LAW 4 ALWAYS SAY LESS THAN NECESSARY When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control. Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinxlike. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish. LAW 5 SO MUCH DEPENDS ON REPUTATIONGUARD IT WITH YOUR LIFE Reputation is the cornerstone of power. Through reputation alone you can intimidate and win; once it slips, however, you are vulnerable, and will be attacked on all sides. Make your reputation unassailable. Always be alert to potential attacks and thwart them before they happen. Meanwhile, learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations. Then stand aside and let public opinion hang them. LAW 6 COURT ATTENTI; ON AT ALL COST Everything is judged by its appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing. Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, then, or buried in oblivion. Stand out. Be conspicuous, at all cost. Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious than the bland and timid masses. LAW 7 GET OTHERS TO DO THE WORK FOR YOU, BUT ALWAYS TAKE THE CREDIT Use the wisdom, knowledge, and legwork of other people to further your own cause. Not only will such assistance save you valuable time and energy, it will give you a godlike aura of efficiency and speed. In the end your helpers will be forgotten and you will be remembered. Never do yourself what others can do for you. LAW 8 MAKE OTHER PEOPLE COME TO YOUUSE BAIT IF NECESSARY When you force the other person to act, you are the one in control. It is always better to make your opponent come to you, abandoning his own plans in the process. Lure him with fabulous gainsthen attack. You hold the cards. LAW 9 WIN THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS, NEVER THROUGH ARGUMENT Any momentary triumph you think you have gained through argument is really a Pyrrhic victory: The resentment and ill will you stir up is stronger and lasts longer than any momentary change of opinion. It is much more powerful to get others to agree with you through your actions, without saying a word. Demonstrate, do not explicate. LAW 10 INFECTION: AVOID THE UNHAPPY AND UNLUCKY You can die from someone else's miseryemotional states are as infectious as diseases. You may feel you are helping the drowning man but you are only precipitating your own disaster. The unfortunate sometimes draw misfortune on themselves; they will also draw it on you. Associate with the happy and fortunate instead. LAW 11 LEARN TO KEEP PEOPLE DEPENDENT ON YOU To maintain your independence you must always be needed and wanted. The more you are relied on, the more freedom you have. Make people depend on you for their happiness and prosperity and you have nothing to fear. Never teach them enough so that they can do without you. LAW 12 USE SELECTIVE HONESTY AND GENEROSITY TO DISARM YOUR VICTIM One sincere and honest move will cover over dozens of dishonest ones. Open-hearted gestures of honesty and generosity bringdown the guard of even the most suspicious people. Once your selective honesty opens a hole in their armor, you can deceive and manipulate them at will. A timely gifta Trojan horsewill serve the same purpose. LAW 13 WHEN ASKING FOR HELP, APPEAL TO PEOPLE'S SELF-INTEREST, NEVER TO THEIR MERCY OR GRATITUDE If you need to turn to an ally for help, do not bother to remind him of your past assistance and good deeds. He will find a way to ignore you. Instead, uncover something in your request, or in your alliance with him, that will benefit him, and emphasize it out of all proportion. He will respond enthusiastically when he sees something to be gained for himself. LAW 14 POSE AS A FRIEND, WORK AS A SPY Knowing about your rival is critical. Use spies to gather valuable information that will keep you a step ahead. Better still: Play the spy yourself. In polite social encounters, learn to probe. Ask indirect questions to get people to reveal their weaknesses and intentions. There is no occasion that is not an opportunity for artful spying. LAW 15 CRUSH YOUR ENEMY TOTALLY All great leaders since Moses have known that a feared enemy must be crushed completely. (Sometimes they have learned this the hard way.) If one ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders, afire will eventually break out. More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation: The enemy will recover, and will seek revenge. Crush him, not only in body but in spirit. LAW 16 USE ABSENCE TO INCREASE RESPECT AND HONOR Too much circulation makes the price go down: The more you are seen and heard from, the more common you appear. If you are already established in a group, temporary withdrawal from it will make you more talked about, even more admired. You must learn when to leave. Create value through scarcity. LAW 17 KEEP OTHERS IN SUSPENDED TERROR: CULTIVATE AN AIR OF UNPREDICTABILITY Humans are creatures of habit with an insatiable need to see familiarity in other people's actions. Your predictability gives them a sense of control. Turn the tables: Be deliberately unpredictable. Behavior that seems to have no consistency or purpose will keep them off-balance, and they will wear themselves out trying to explain your moves. Taken to an extreme, this strategy can intimidate and terrorize. LAW 18 DO NOT BUILD FORTRESSES TO PROTECT YOURSELFISOLATION IS DANGEROUS The world is dangerous and enemies are everywhereeveryone has to protect themselves. A fortress seems the safest. But isolation exposes you to more dangers than it protects you fromit cuts you off from valuable information, it makes you conspicuous and an easy target. Better to circulate among people, find allies, mingle. You are shielded from your enemies by the crowd. LAW 19 KNOW WHO YOU'RE DEALING WITHDO NOT OFFEND THE WRONG PERSON There are many different kinds of people in the world, and you can never assume that everyone will react to your strategies in the same way. Deceive or outmaneuver some people and they will spend the rest of their lives seeking revenge. They are wolves in lambs' clothing. Choose your victims and opponents carefully, then never offend or deceive the wrong person. LAW 20 DO NOT COMMIT TO ANYONE It is the fool who always rushes to take sides. Do not commit to any side or cause but yourself. By maintaining your independence, you become the master of othersplaying people against one another, making them pursue you. LAW 21 PLAY A SUCKER TO CATCH A SUCKERSEEM DUMBER THAN YOUR MARK No one likes feeling stupider than the next person. The trick, then, is to make your victims feel smartand not just smart, but smarter than you are. Once convinced of this, they will never suspect that you may have ulterior motives. LAW 22 USE THE SURRENDER TACTIC: TRANSFORM WEAKNESS INTO POWER When you are weaker, never fight for honor's sake; choose surrender instead. Surrender gives you time to recover, time to torment and irritate your conqueror, time to wait for his power to wane. Do not give him the satisfaction of fighting and defeating yousurrender first. By turning the other cheek you infuriate and unsettle him. Make surrender a tool of power. LAW 23 CONCENTRATE YOUR FORCES Conserve your forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at theirstrongest point. You gain more by finding a rich mine and mining it deeper, than by flitting from one shallow mine to anotherintensity defeats ex-tensity every time. When looking for sources of power to elevate you, find the one key patron, the fat cow who will give you milk for a long time to come. LAW 24 PLAY THE PERFECT COURTIER The perfect courtier thrives in a world where everything revolves around power and political dexterity. He has mastered the art of indirection; he flatters, yields to superiors, and asserts power over others in the most oblique and graceful manner. Learn and apply the laws of courtiership and there will be no limit to how far you can rise in the court. LAW 2 5 RE-CREATE YOURSELF Do not accept the roles that society foists on you. Re-create yourself by forging a new identity, one that commands attention and never bores the audience. Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define it for you. Incorporate dramatic devices into your public gestures and actionsyour power will be enhanced and your character will seem larger than life. LAW 26 KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN You must seem a paragon of civility and efficiency: Your hands are never soiled by mistakes and nasty deeds. Maintain such a spotless appearance by using others as scapegoats and cat's-paws to disguise your involvement. LAW 2 7 PLAY ON PEOPLE'S NEED TO BELIEVE TO CREATE A CULTLIKE FOLLOWING People have an overwhelming desire to believe in something. Become the focal point of such desire by offering them a cause, a new faith to follow. Keep your words vague but full of promise; emphasize enthusiasm over rationality and clear thinking. Give your new disciples rituals to perform, ask them to make sacrifices on your behalf. In the absence of organized religion and grand causes, your new belief system will bring you untold power. ENTER ACTION WITH BOLDNESS If you are unsure of a course of action, do not attempt it. Your doubts and hesitations will infect your execution. Timidity is dangerous: Better to enter with boldness. Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity. Everyone admires the bold; no one honors the timid. LAW 29 PLAN ALL THE WAY TO THE END The ending is everything. Plan all the way to it, taking into account all the possible consequences, obstacles, and twists of fortune that might reverse your hard work and give the glory to others. By planning to the end you will not be overwhelmed by circumstances and you will know when to stop. Gently guide fortune and help determine the future by thinking far ahead. LAW 30 MAKE YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS SEEM EFFORTLESS Your actions must seem natural and executed with ease. All the toil and practice that go into them, and also all the clever tricks, must be concealed. When you act, act effortlessly, as if you could do much more. Avoid the temptation of revealing how hard you workit only raises questions. Teach no one your tricks or they will be used against you. LAW 31 CONTROL THE OPTIONS: GET OTHERS TO PLAY WITH THE CARDS YOU DEAL The best deceptions are the ones that seem to give the other person a choice: Your victims feel they are in control, but are actually your puppets. Give people options that come out in your favor whichever one they choose. Forte them to make choices between the lesser of two evils, both of which serve your purpose. Put them on the horns of a dilemma: They are gored wherever they turn. LAW 32 PLAY TO PEOPLE'S FANTASIES The truth is often avoided because it is ugly and unpleasant. Never appeal to truth and reality unless you are prepared for the anger that comes from disenchantment. Life is so harsh and distressing that people who can manufacture romance or conjure up fantasy are like oases in the desert: Everyone flocks to them. There is great power in tapping into the fantasies of the masses. LAW 3 3 DISCOVER EACH MAN'S THUMBSCREW Everyone has a weakness, a gap in the castle wall. That weakness is usually an insecurity, an uncontrollable emotion or need; it can also be a small secret pleasure. Either way, once found, it is a thumbscrew you can turn to your advantage. LAW 34 BE ROYAL IN YOUR OWN FASHION: ACT LIKE A KING TO BE TREATED LIKE ONE The way you carry yourself will often determine how you are treated: In the long run, appearing vulgar or common will make people disrespect you. For a king respects himself and inspires the same sentiment in others. By acting regally and confident of your powers, you make yourself seem destined to wear a crown. LAW 35 MASTER THE ART OF TIMING Never seem to be in a hurryhurrying betrays a lack of control over yourself and over time. Always seem patient, as if you know that everything will come to you eventually. Become a detective of the right moment; sniff out the spirit of the times, the trends that will carry you to power. Learn to stand back when the time is not yet ripe, and to strike fiercely when it has reached fruition. LAW 36 DISDAIN THINGS YOU CANNOT HAVE: IGNORING THEM IS THE BEST REVENGE By acknowledging a petty problem you give it existence and credibility. The more attention you pay an enemy, the stronger you make him; and a small mistake is often made worse and more visible when you try to fix it. It is sometimes best to leave things alone. If there is something you want but cannot have, show contempt for it. The less interest you reveal, the more superior you seem. LAW 37 CREATE COMPELLING SPECTACLES Striking imagery and grand symbolic gestures create the aura of powereveryone responds to them. Stage spectacles for those around you, then, full of arresting visuals and radiant symbols that heighten your presence. Dazzled by appearances, no one will notice what you are really doing. LAW 38 THINK AS YOU LIKE BUT BEHAVE LIKE OTHERS If you make a show of going against the times, flaunting your unconventional ideas and unorthodox ways, people will think that you only want attention and that you look down upon them. They will find a way to punish you for making them feel inferior. It is far safer to blend in and nurture the common touch. Share your originality only with tolerant friends and those who an sure to appreciate your uniqueness. LAW 39 STIR UP WATERS TO CATCH FISH Anger and emotion are strategically counterproductive. You must always stay calm and objective. But if you can make your enemies angry while staying calm yourself, you gain a decided advantage. Put your enemies off-balance: Find the chink in their vanity through which you can rattle them and you hold the strings. LAW 40 DESPISE THE FREE LUNCH What is offered for free is dangerousit usually involves either a trick or a hidden obligation. What has worth is worth paying for. By paying your own way you stay clear of gratitude, guilt, and deceit. It is also often wise to pay the full pricethere is no cutting corners with excellence. Be lavish with your money and keep it circulating, for generosity is a sign and a magnet for power. LAW 41 AVOID STEPPING INTO A GREAT MAN'S SHOES What happens first always appears better and more original than what comes after. If you succeed a great man or have a famous parent, you will have to accomplish double their achievements to outshine them. Do not get lost in their shadow, or stuck in a past not of your own making: Establish your own name and identity by changing course. Slay the overbearing father, disparage his legacy, and gain power by shining in your own way. LAW 42 STRIKE THE SHEPHERD AND THE SHEEP WILL SCATTER Trouble can often be traced to a single strong individualthe stirrer, the arrogant underling, the poisoner of goodwill. If you allow such people room to operate, others will succumb to their influence. Do not wait for the troubles they cause to multiply, do not try to negotiate with themthey are irredeemable. Neutralize their influence by isolating or banishing them. Strike at the source of the trouble and the sheep will scatter. LAW 43 WORK ON THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF OTHERS Coercion creates a reaction that will eventually work against you. You must seduce others into wanting to move in your direction. A person you have seduced becomes your loyal pawn. And the way to seduce others is to operate on their individual psychologies and weaknesses. Soften up the resistant by working on their emotions, playing on what they hold dear and what they fear. Ignore the hearts and minds of others and they will grow to hate you. LAW 44 DISARM AND INFURIATE WITH THE MIRROR EFFECT The mirror reflects reality, but it is also the perfect tool for deception: When you mirror your enemies, doing exactly as they do, they cannot figure out your strategy. The Mirror Effect mocks and humiliates them, making them overreact. By holding up a mirror to their psyches, you seduce them with the illusion that you share their values; by holding up a mirror to their actions, you teach them a lesson. Few can resist the power of the Mirror Effect. LAW 45 PREACH THE NEED FOR CHANGE, BUT NEVER REFORM TOO MUCH AT ONCE Everyone understands the need for change in the abstract, but on the day-to-day level people are creatures of habit. Too much innovation is traumatic, and will lead to revolt. If you are new to a position of power, or an outsider trying to build a power base, make a show of respecting the old way of doing things. If change is necessary, make it feel like a gentle improvement on the past. LAW 46 NEVER APPEAR TOO PERFECT Appearing better than others is always dangerous, but most dangerous of all is to appear to have no faults or weaknesses. Envy creates silent enemies. It is smart to occasionally display defects, and admit to harmless vices, in order to deflect envy and appear more human and approachable. Only gods and the dead can seem perfect with impunity. LAW 47 DO NOT GO PAST THE MARK YOU AIMED FOR; IN VICTORY, LEARN WHEN TO STOP The moment of victory is often the moment of greatest peril. In the heat of victory, arrogance and overconfi-dence can push you past the goal you had aimed for, and by going too far, you make more enemies than you defeat. Do not allow success to go to your head. There is no substitute for strategy and careful planning. Set a goal, and when you reach it, stop. LAW 48 ASSUME FORMLESSNESS By taking a shape, by having a visible plan, you open yourself to attack. Instead of taking a form for your enemy to grasp, keep yourself adaptable and on the move. Accept the fact that nothing is certain and no law is fixed. The best way to protect yourself is to be as fluid and formless as water; never bet on stability or lasting order. Everything changes. 48 Laws of Power PREFACE The feeling of having no power over people and events is generally unbearable to uswhen we feel helpless we feel miserable. No one wants less power; everyone wants more. In the world today, however, it is dangerous to seem too power hungry, to be overt with your power moves. We have to seem fair and decent. So we need to be subdecongenial yet cunning, democratic yet devious. This game of constant duplicity most resembles the power dynamic that existed in the scheming world of the old aristocratic court. Throughout history, a court has always formed itself around the person in powerking, queen, emperor, leader. The courtiers who filled this court were in an especially delicate position: They had to serve their masters, but if they seemed to fawn, if they curried favor too obviously, the other courtiers around them would notice and would act against them. Attempts to win the master's favor, then, had to be subde. And even skilled courtiers capable of such subdety still had to protect themselves from their fellow courtiers, who at all moments were scheming to push them aside. Meanwhile the court was supposed to represent the height of civilization and refinement. Violent or overt power moves were frowned upon; courtiers would work silendy and secredy against any among them who used force. This was die courtier's dilemma: While appearing the very paragon of elegance, tiiey had to outwit and diwart their own opponents in the subdest of ways. The successful courtier learned over time to make all of his moves indirect; if he stabbed an opponent in the back, it was widi a velvet glove on his hand and the sweetest of smiles on his face. Instead of using coercion or outright treachery, the perfect courtier got his way through seduction, charm, deception, and subde strategy, always planning several moves ahead. Life in die court was a never-ending game tfiat required constant vigilance and tactical thinking. It was civilized war. Today we face a peculiarly similar paradox to diat of the courtier: Everything must appear civilized, decent, democratic, and fair. But if we play by those rules too stricdy, if we take them too literally, we are crushed by tiiose around us who are not so foolish. As the great Renaissance diplomat and courtier Niccolo Machiavelli wrote, “Any man who tries to be good all die time is bound to come to ruin among die great number who are not good.” The court imagined itself die pinnacle of refinement, but underneath its glittering surface a cauldron of dark emotionsgreed, envy, lust, hatredboiled and simmered. Our world today similarly imagines itself the pinnacle of fairness, yet the same ugly emotions still stir within us, as they have forever. The game is the same. Outwardly, you must seem to respect the niceties, but inwardly, unless you are a fool, you learn quickly to be prudent, and to do as Napoleon advised: Place your iron hand inside a velvet glove. If, like the courtier of times gone by, you can master the arts of indirection, learning to seduce, charm, deceive, and subtiy outmaneuver your opponents, you will attain the heights of power. You will be able to make people bend to your will without their realizing what you have done. And if they do not realize what you have done, they will neitfier resent nor resist you. To some people the notion of consciously playing power gamesno matter how indirectseems evil, asocial, a relic of the past. They believe they can opt out of the game by behaving in ways that have nothing to do with power. You must beware of such people, for while diey express such opinions outwardly, they are often among the most adept players at power. They utilize strategies that cleverly disguise the nature of the manipulation involved. These types, for example, will often display their weakness and lack of power as a kind of moral virtue. But true powerlessness, without any motive of self-interest, would not publicize its weakness to gain sympathy or respect. Making a show of one's weakness is actually a very effective strategy, subtle and deceptive, in the game of power (see Law 22, the Surrender Tactic). Another strategy of the supposed nonplayer is to demand equality in every area of life. Everyone must be treated alike, whatever tiieir status and strength. But if, to avoid die taint of power, you attempt to treat everyone equally and fairly, you will confront the problem diat some people do certain things better than others. Treating everyone equally means ignoring their differences, elevating the less skillful and suppressing those who excel. Again, many of diose who behave this way are actually deploying another power strategy, redistributing people's rewards in a way that they determine. Yet another way of avoiding the game would be perfect honesty and straightforwardness, since one of the main techniques of those who seek power is deceit and secrecy. But being perfectly honest will inevitably hurt and insult a great many people, some of whom will choose to injure you in return. No one will see your honest statement as completely objective and free of some personal motivation. And they will be right: In truth, the use of honesty is indeed a power strategy, intended to convince people of one's noble, good-hearted, selfless character. It is a form of persuasion, even a subde form of coercion. Finally, those who claim to be nonplayers may affect an air of naivete, to protect them from the accusation that they are after power. Beware again, however, for die appearance of naivete can be an effective means of deceit (see Law 21, Seem Dumber Than Your Mark). And even genuine naivete is not free of the snares of power. Children may be naive in many ways, but they often act from an elemental need to gain control over those around them. Children suffer greatiy from feeling powerless in the adult world, and they use any means available to get their way. Genuinely innocent people may still be playing for power, and are often horribly effective at the game, since they are not hindered by reflection. Once again, those who make a show or display of innocence are the least innocent of all. You can recognize these supposed nonplayers by the way they flaunt their moral qualities, their piety, their exquisite sense of justice. But since all of us hunger for power, and almost all of our actions are aimed at gaining it, the nonplayers are merely throwing dust in our eyes, distracting us from their power plays with their air of moral superiority. If you observe them closely, you will see in fact that they are often the ones most skillful at indirect manipulation, even if some of them practice it unconsciously. And they greatly resent any publicizing of the tactics they use every day. If the world is like a giant scheming court and we are trapped inside it, there is no use in trying to opt out of the game. That will only render you powerless, and powerlessness will make you miserable. Instead of struggling against the inevitable, instead of arguing and whining and feeling guilty, it is far better to excel at power. In fact, the better you are at dealing with power, the better friend, lover, husband, wife, and person you become. By following the route of the perfect courtier (see Law 24) you learn to make others feel better about themselves, becoming a source of pleasure to them. They will grow dependent on your abilities and desirous of your presence. By mastering the 48 laws in this book, you spare others the pain that comes from bungling with powerby playing with fire without knowing its properties. If the game of power is inescapable, better to be an artist than a denier or a bungler. The only means to gain one's ends with people are force and cunning. Love also, they say; but that is to wait for sunshine, and life needs every moment. Learning the game of power requires a certain way of looking at the world, a shifting of perspective. It takes effort and years of practice, for much of the game may not come naturally. Certain basic skills are required, and once you master these skills you will be able to apply the laws of power more easily. The most important of these skills, and power's crucial foundation, the ability to master your emotions. An emotional response to a situation the single greatest barrier to power, a mistake that will cost you a lot more than any temporary satisfaction you might gain by expressing your feelings. Emotions cloud reason, and if you cannot see the situation clearly, you cannot prepare for and respond to it with any degree of control. Anger is the most destructive of emotional responses, for it clouds your vision the most. It also has a ripple effect that invariably makes situations less controllable and heightens your enemy's resolve. If you are trying to destroy an enemy who has hurt you, far better to keep him off-guard by feigning friendliness than showing your anger. I thought to myself with what means, with what deceptions, with how many varied arts, with what industry a man sharpens his wits to deceive another, and through these variations the world is made more beautiful Francesco Vettori, contemporary and friend of Machiavelli, early sixteenth CENTURY There are no principles; there are only events. There is no good and bad, there are only circumstances. The superior man espouses events and circumstances in order to guide them. If there were principles and fixed laws, nations would not change them as we change our shirts and a man can not be expected to be wiser than an entire nation. Honore de Balzac, 1799-1850 Love and affection are also potentially destructive, in that they blind you to die often self-serving interests of those whom you least suspect of playing a power game. You cannot repress anger or love, or avoid feeling them, and you should not try. But you should be careful about how you express them, and most important, they should never influence your plans and strategies in any way. Related to mastering your emotions is the ability to distance yourself from the present moment and think objectively about the past and future. Like Janus, the double-faced Roman deity and guardian of all gates and doorways, you must be able to look in bodi directions at once, the better to handle danger from wherever it comes. Such is the face you must create for yourselfone face looking continuously to the future and die odier to the past. For the future, die motto is, “No days unalert.” Nothing should catch you by surprise because you are constandy imagining problems before they arise. Instead of spending your time dreaming of your plan's happy ending, you must work on calculating every possible permutation and pitfall that might emerge in it. The further you see, the more steps ahead you plan, die more powerful you become. The other face of Janus looks constandy to the pastdiough not to remember past hurts or bear grudges. That would only curb your power. Half of die game is learning how to forget those events in die past that eat away at you and cloud your reason. The real purpose of the backward-glancing eye is to educate yourself constantlyyou look at the past to learn from those who came before you. (The many historical examples in this book will gready help that process.) Then, having looked to die past, you look closer at hand, to your own actions and diose of your friends. This is die most vital school you can learn from, because it comes from personal experience. You begin by examining the mistakes you have made in die past, die ones diat have most grievously held you back. You analyze diem in terms of the 48 laws of power, and you extract from them a lesson and an oath: “I shall never repeat such a mistake; I shall never fall into such a trap again.” If you can evaluate and observe yourself in this way, you can learn to break the patterns of the pastan immensely valuable skill. Power requires the ability to play with appearances. To this end you must learn to wear many masks and keep a bag full of deceptive tricks. Deception and masquerade should not be seen as ugly or immoral. All human interaction requires deception on many levels, and in some ways what separates humans from animals is our ability to lie and deceive. In Greek myths, in India's Mahabharata cycle, in the Middle Eastern epic of Gilga-mesh, it is the privilege of the gods to use deceptive arts; a great man, Odysseus for instance, was judged by his ability to rival the craftiness of the gods, stealing some of dieir divine power by matching them in wits and deception. Deception is a developed art of civilization and die most potent weapon in the game of power. You cannot succeed at deception unless you take a somewhat distanced approach to yourselfunless you can be many different people, wearing the mask that the day and the moment require. With such a flexible approach to all appearances, including your own, you lose a lot of the inward heaviness that holds people down. Make your face as malleable as the actor's, work to conceal your intentions from others, practice luring people into traps. Playing with appearances and mastering arts of deception are among the aesthetic pleasures of life. They are also key components in die acquisition of power. If deception is the most potent weapon in your arsenal, then patience in all things is your crucial shield. Patience will protect you from making moronic blunders. Like mastering your emotions, patience is a skillit does not come naturally. But nothing about power is natural; power is more godlike than anything in the natural world. And patience is the supreme virtue of the gods, who have nothing but time. Everything good will happenthe grass will grow again, if you give it time and see several steps into the future. Impatience, on the other hand, only makes you look weak. It is a principal impediment to power. Power is essentially amoral and one of the most important skills to acquire is the ability to see circumstances rather than good or evil. Power is a gamethis cannot be repeated too oftenand in games you do not judge your opponents by dieir intentions but by the effect of dieir actions. You measure their strategy and their power by what you can see and feel. How often are someone's intentions made the issue only to cloud and deceive! What does it matter if another player, your friend or rival, intended good things and had only your interests at heart, if the effects of his action lead to so much ruin and confusion It is only natural for people to cover up their actions with all kinds of justifications, always assuming that they have acted out of goodness. You must learn to inwardly laugh each time you hear this and never get caught up in gauging someone's intentions and actions through a set of moral judgments that are really an excuse for the accumulation of power. It is a game. Your opponent sits opposite you. Both of you behave as gendemen or ladies, observing the rules of the game and taking nodiing personally. You play with a strategy and you observe your opponent's moves with as much calmness as you can muster. In die end, you will appreciate the politeness of those you are playing with more than their good and sweet intentions. Train your eye to follow the results of dieir moves, the outward circumstances, and do not be distracted by anything else. Half of your mastery of power comes from what you do not do, what you do not allow yourself to get dragged into. For this skill you must learn to judge all mings by what diey cost you. As Nietzsche wrote, “The value of a thing sometimes lies not in what one attains with it, but in what one pays for itwhat it costs us.” Perhaps you will attain your goal, and a worthy goal at that, but at what price Apply this standard to everydiing, including wheuier to collaborate wim other people or come to their aid. In die end, life is short, opportunities are few, and you have only so much energy to draw on. And in this sense time is as important a consideration as any other. Never waste valuable time, or mental peace of mind, on the affairs of othersthat is too high a price to pay. Power is a social game. To learn and master it, you must develop die ability to study and understand people. As the great seventeenth-century thinker and courtier Baltasar Gracian wrote: “Many people spend time studying die properties of animals or herbs; how much more important it would be to study those of people, with whom we must live or die!” To be a master player you must also be a master psychologist. You must recognize motivations and see through the cloud of dust with which people surround their actions. An understanding of people's hidden motives is die single greatest piece of knowledge you can have in acquiring power. It opens up endless possibilities of deception, seduction, and manipulation. People are of infinite complexity and you can spend a lifetime watching them without ever fully understanding them. So it is all the more important, dien, to begin your education now. In doing so you must also keep one principle in mind: Never discriminate as to whom you study and whom you trust. Never trust anyone completely and study everyone, including friends and loved ones. Finally, you must learn always to take the indirect route to power. Disguise your cunning. Like a billiard ball that caroms several times before it hits its target, your moves must be planned and developed in the least obvious way. By training yourself to be indirect, you can thrive in the modern court, appearing die paragon of decency while being the consummate manipulator. Consider The 48 Laws of Power a kind of handbook on the arts of indirection. The laws are based on die writings of men and women who have studied and mastered the game of power. These writings span a period of more dian three diousand years and were created in civilizations as disparate as ancient China and Renaissance Italy; yet they share common threads and themes, together hinting at an essence of power diat has yet to be fully articulated. The 48 laws of power are the distillation of this accumulated wisdom, gadiered from the writings of the most illustrious strategists (Sun-tzu, Clausewitz), statesmen (Bismarck, Talleyrand), courtiers (Castiglione, Gracian), seducers (Ninon de Lenclos, Casanova), and con artists (“Yellow Kid” Weil) in history. The laws have a simple premise: Certain actions almost always increase one's power (the observance of the law), while otfiers decrease it and even ruin us (the transgression of die law). These transgressions and observances are illustrated by historical examples. The laws are timeless and definitive. The 48 Laws of Power can be used in several ways. By reading die book straight through you can learn about power in general. Although several of the laws may seem not to pertain direcdy to your life, in time you will probably find that all of them have some application, and that in fact they are interrelated. By getting an overview of the entire subject you will best be able to evaluate your own past actions and gain a greater degree of control over your immediate affairs. A thorough reading of the book will inspire thinking and reevaluation long after you finish it. The book has also been designed for browsing and for examining the law that seems at mat particular moment most pertinent to you. Say you are experiencing problems with a superior and cannot understand why your efforts have not lead to more gratitude or a promotion. Several laws specifically address the master-underling relationship, and you are almost certainly transgressing one of them. By browsing the initial paragraphs for the 48 laws in the table of contents, you can identify the pertinent law. Finally, the book can be browsed through and picked apart for entertainment, for an enjoyable ride through the foibles and great deeds of our predecessors in power. A warning, however, to those who use the book for this purpose: It might be better to turn back. Power is endlessly seductive and deceptive in its own way. It is a labyrinthyour mind becomes consumed widi solving its infinite problems, and you soon realize how pleas-andy lost you have become. In other words, it becomes most amusing by taking it seriously. Do not be frivolous with such a critical matter. The gods of power frown on the frivolous; they give ultimate satisfaction only to those who study and reflect, and punish tiiose who skim the surfaces looking for a good time. Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good. Hence a prince who wants to keep his authority must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires. The Prince, Niccolb Machiavelli, 1469-1527 48 Laws of Power LAW 1 NEVER OUTSHINE THE MASTER JUDGMENT Always make those above you feel comfortably superior. In your desire to please and impress them, do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might accomplish the oppositeinspire fear and insecurity. Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power. TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW Nicolas Fouquet, Louis XIV's finance minister in the first years of his reign, was a generous man who loved lavish parties, pretty women, and poetry. He also loved money, for he led an extravagant lifestyle. Fouquet was clever and very much indispensable to the king, so when the prime minister, Jules Mazarin, died, in 1661, the finance minister expected to be named the successor. Instead, the king decided to abolish the position. This and other signs made Fouquet suspect that he was falling out of favor, and so he decided to ingratiate himself with the king by staging the most spectacular party the world had ever seen. The party's ostensible purpose would be to commemorate the completion of Fouquet's chateau, Vaux-le-Vicomte, but its real function was to pay tribute to the king, the guest of honor. The most brilliant nobility of Europe and some of the greatest minds of the timeLa Fontaine, La Rochefoucauld, Madame de Sevigne attended the party. Moliere wrote a play for the occasion, in which he himself was to perform at the evening's conclusion. The party began with a lavish seven-course dinner, featuring foods from the Orient never before tasted in France, as well as new dishes created especially for the night. The meal was accompanied with music commissioned by Fouquet to honor the king. After dinner there was a promenade through the chateau's gardens. The grounds and fountains of Vaux-le-Vicomte were to be the inspiration for Versailles. Fouquet personally accompanied the young king through the geometrically aligned arrangements of shrubbery and flower beds. Arriving at the gardens' canals, they witnessed a fireworks display, which was followed by the performance of Moliere's play. The party ran well into the night and everyone agreed it was the most amazing affair they had ever attended. The next day, Fouquet was arrested by the king's head musketeer, D'Artagnan. Three months later he went on trial for stealing from the country's treasury. (Actually, most of the stealing he was accused of he had done on the king's behalf and with the king's permission.) Fouquet was found guilty and sent to the most isolated prison in France, high in the Pyrenees Mountains, where he spent die last twenty years of his life in solitary confinement. Interpretation Louis XIV, the Sun King, was a proud and arrogant man who wanted to be the center of attention at all times; he could not countenance being outdone in lavishness by anyone, and certainly not his finance minister. To succeed Fouquet, Louis chose Jean-Baptiste Colbert, a man famous for his parsimony and for giving the dullest parties in Paris. Colbert made sure that any money liberated from the treasury went straight into Louis's hands. With the money, Louis built a palace even more magnificent than Fouquet'sthe glorious palace of Versailles. He used the same architects, decorators, and garden designer. And at Versailles, Louis hosted parties even more extravagant uian the one that cost Fouquet his freedom. Let us examine the situation. The evening of the party, as Fouquet presented spectacle on spectacle to Louis, each more magnificent than the one before, he imagined the affair as demonstrating his loyalty and devotion to the king. Not only did he think the party would put him back in die king's favor, he thought it would show his good taste, his connections, and his popularity, making him indispensable to die king and demonstrating that he would make an excellent prime minister. Instead, however, each new spectacle, each appreciative smile bestowed by the guests on Fouquet, made it seem to Louis that his own friends and subjects were more charmed by the finance minister dian by the king himself, and that Fouquet was actually flaunting his wealth and power. Rather than flattering Louis XIV, Fouquet's elaborate party offended the king's vanity. Louis would not admit this to anyone, of courseinstead, he found a convenient excuse to rid himself of a man who had inadvertently made him feel insecure. Such is the fate, in some form or other, of all those who unbalance the master's sense of self, poke holes in his vanity, or make him doubt his preeminence. When the evening began, Fouquet was at the top of the world. By the time it had ended, he was at the bottom. Voltaire, 1694-1778 OBSERVANCE OF THE LAW In the early 1600s, the Italian astronomer and mathematician Galileo found himself in a precarious position. He depended on the generosity of great rulers to support his research, and so, like all Renaissance scientists, he would sometimes make gifts of his inventions and discoveries to the leading patrons of the time. Once, for instance, he presented a military compass he had invented to the Duke of Gonzaga. Then he dedicated a book explaining the use of the compass to the Medicis. Both rulers were grateful, and dirough them Galileo was able to find more students to teach. No matter how great the discovery, however, his patrons usually paid him with gifts, not cash. This made for a life of constant insecurity and dependence. There must be an easier way, he thought. Galileo hit on a new strategy in 1610, when he discovered the moons of Jupiter. Instead of dividing the discovery among his patronsgiving one the telescope he had used, dedicating a book to another, and so onas he had done in the past, he decided to focus exclusively on the Medicis. He chose the Medicis for one reason: Shortly after Cosimo I had established the Medici dynasty, in 1540, he had made Jupiter, the mightiest of the gods, the Medici symbola symbol of a power that went beyond politics and banking, one linked to ancient Rome and its divinities. Galileo turned his discovery of Jupiter's moons into a cosmic event honoring the Medicis' greatness. Shortly after the discovery, he announced that “the bright stars [the moons of Jupiter] offered themselves in the heavens” to his telescope at the same time as Cosimo IPs enthronement. He said that the number of the moonsfourharmonized with the number of the Medicis (Cosimo II had three brothers) and that the moons orbited Jupiter as these four sons revolved around Cosimo I, the dynasty's founder. More than coincidence, this showed that the heavens themselves reflected the ascendancy of the Medici family. After he dedicated the discovery to the Medicis, Galileo commissioned an emblem representing Jupiter sitting on a cloud with the four stars circling about him, and presented this to Cosimo II as a symbol of his link to the stars. In 1610 Cosimo II made Galileo his official court philosopher and mathematician, with a full salary. For a scientist this was the coup of a lifetime. The days of begging for patronage were over. Interpretation In one stroke, Galileo gained more with his new strategy than he had in years of begging. The reason is simple: All masters want to appear more brilliant than other people. They do not care about science or empirical trutii or the latest invention; they care about their name and their glory. Galileo gave the Medicis infinitely more glory by linking their name with cosmic forces than he had by making them the patrons of some new scientific gadget or discovery. Scientists are not spared the vagaries of court life and patronage. They too must serve masters who hold the purse strings. And their great intellectual powers can make the master feel insecure, as if he were only there to supply the fundsan ugly, ignoble job. The producer of a great work wants to feel he is more than just the provider of the financing. He wants to appear creative and powerful, and also more important than the work produced in his name. Instead of insecurity you must give him glory. Galileo did not challenge the intellectual authority of the Medicis with his discovery, or make them feel inferior in any way; by literally aligning them with the stars, he made them shine brilliantly among the courts of Italy. He did not outshine the master, he made the master outshine all others. KEYS TO POWER Everyone has insecurities. When you show yourself in the world and display your talents, you naturally stir up all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity. This is to be expected. You cannot spend your life worrying about the petty feelings of others. With those above you, however, you must take a different approach: When it comes to power, outshining the master is perhaps the worst mistake of all. Do not fool yourself into thinking that life has changed much since the days of Louis XIV and the Medicis. Those who attain high standing in life are like kings and queens: They want to feel secure in their positions, and superior to those around them in intelligence, wit, and charm. It is a deadly but common misperception to believe that by displaying and vaunting your gifts and talents, you are winning die master's affection. He may feign appreciation, but at his first opportunity he will replace you with someone less intelligent, less attractive, less threatening, just as Louis XIV replaced the sparkling Fouquet with the bland Colbert. And as with Louis, he will not admit the truth, but will find an excuse to rid himself of your presence. This Law involves two rules that you must realize. First, you can inadvertently outshine a master simply by being yourself. There are masters who are more insecure than others, monstrously insecure; you may naturally outshine them by your charm and grace. No one had more natural talents than Astorre Manfredi, prince of Faenza. The most handsome of all the young princes of Italy, he captivated his subjects with his generosity and open spirit. In the year 1500, Cesare Borgia laid siege to Faenza. When the city surrendered, the citizens expected the worst from the cruel Borgia, who, however, decided to spare the town: He simply occupied its fortress, executed none of its citizens, and allowed Prince Manfredi, eighteen at the time, to remain with his court, in complete freedom. A few weeks later, though, soldiers hauled Astorre Manfredi away to a Roman prison. A year after that, his body was fished out of the River Tiber, a stone tied around his neck. Borgia justified the horrible deed with some sort of trumped-up charge of treason and conspiracy, but the real problem was that he was notoriously vain and insecure. The young man was outshining him without even trying. Given Manfredi's natural talents, the prince's mere presence made Borgia seem less attractive and charismatic. The lesson is simple: If you cannot help being charming and superior, you must learn to avoid such monsters of vanity. Either that, or find a way to mute your good qualities when in the company of a Cesare Borgia. Second, never imagine that because the master loves you, you can do anything you want. Entire books could be written about favorites who fell out of favor by taking their status for granted, for daring to outshine. In late-sixteenth-century Japan, the favorite of Emperor Hideyoshi was a man called Sen no Rikyu. The premier artist of the tea ceremony, which had become an obsession with the nobility, he was one of Hideyoshi's most trusted advisers, had his own apartment in the palace, and was honored throughout Japan. Yet in 1591, Hideyoshi had him arrested and sentenced to death. Rikyu took his own life, instead. The cause for his sudden change of fortune was discovered later: It seems that Rikyu, former peasant and later court favorite, had had a wooden statue made of himself wearing sandals (a sign of nobility) and posing loftily. He had had this statue placed in the most important temple inside the palace gates, in clear sight of the royalty who often would pass by. To Hideyoshi this signified that Rikyu had no sense of limits. Presuming that he had the same rights as those of the highest nobility, he had forgotten that his position depended on the emperor, and had come to believe that he had earned it on his own. This was an unforgivable miscalculation of his own importance and he paid for it with his life. Remember the following: Never take your position for granted and never let any favors you receive go to your head. Knowing the dangers of outshining your master, you can turn tiiis Law to your advantage. First you must flatter and puff up your master. Overt flattery can be effective but has its limits; it is too direct and obvious, and looks bad to other courtiers. Discreet flattery is much more powerful. If you are more intelligent than your master, for example, seem the opposite: Make him appear more intelligent than you. Act naive. Make it seem that you need his expertise. Commit harmless mistakes that will not hurt you in the long run but will give you die chance to ask for his help. Masters adore such requests. A master who cannot bestow on you the gifts of his experience may direct rancor and ill will at you instead. If your ideas are more creative dian your master's, ascribe them to him, in as public a manner as possible. Make it clear that your advice is merely an echo of his advice. If you surpass your master in wit, it is okay to play the role of the court jester, but do not make him appear cold and surly by comparison. Tone down your humor if necessary, and find ways to make him seem the dispenser of amusement and good cheer. If you are naturally more sociable and generous than your master, be careful not to be the cloud that blocks his radiance from odiers. He must appear as the sun around which everyone revolves, radiating power and brilliance, die center of attention. If you are dirust into the position of entertaining him, a display of your limited means may win you his sympathy. Any attempt to impress him with your grace and generosity can prove fatal: Learn from Fouquet or pay die price. In all of diese cases it is not a weakness to disguise your strengdis if in die end they lead to power. By letting others outshine you, you remain in control, instead of being a victim of tiieir insecurity. This will all come in handy the day you decide to rise above your inferior status. If, like Galileo, you can make your master shine even more in the eyes of odiers, then you are a godsend and you will be instantiy promoted. Image: The Stars in the Sky. There can be only one sun at a time. Never obscure the sunlight, or rival the sun's brilliance; rather, fade into the sky and find ways to heighten the master star's intensity. Authority: Avoid outshining the master. All superiority is odious, but the superiority of a subject over his prince is not only stupid, it is fatal. This is a lesson that the stars in the sky teach usthey may be related to the sun, and just as brilliant, but they never appear in her company. (Baltasar Gracian, 1601-1658) REVERSAL You cannot worry about upsetting every person you come across, but you must be selectively cruel. If your superior is a falling star, there is nothing to fear from outshining him. Do not be mercifulyour master had no such scruples in his own cold-blooded climb to the top. Gauge his strength. If he is weak, discreetly hasten his downfall: Outdo, outcharm, outsmart him at key moments. If he is very weak and ready to fall, let nature take its course. Do not risk outshining a feeble superiorit might appear cruel or spiteful. But if your master is firm in his position, yet you know yourself to be the more capable, bide your time and be patient. It is the natural course of things that power eventually fades and weakens. Your master will fall someday, and if you play it right, you will oudive and someday outshine him. 48 Laws of Power LAW 2 NEVER PUT TOO MUCH TRUST IN FRIENDS, LEARN HOW TO USE ENEMIES JUDGMENT Be wary of friendsthey will betray you more quickly, for they are easily aroused to envy. They also become spoiled and tyrannical. But hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove. In fact, you have more to fear from friends than from enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make them. TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW In the mid-ninth century A.D., a young man named Michael III assumed the dirone of the Byzantine Empire. His mother, the Empress Theodora, had been banished to a nunnery, and her lover, Theoctistus, had been murdered; at the head of the conspiracy to depose Theodora and enthrone Michael had been Michael's uncle, Bardas, a man of intelligence and ambition. Michael was now a young, inexperienced ruler, surrounded by intriguers, murderers, and profligates. In this time of peril he needed someone he could trust as his councillor, and his tiioughts turned to Basilius, his best friend. Basilius had no experience whatsoever in government and politicsin fact, he was the head of the royal stablesbut he had proven his love and gratitude time and again. They had met a few years before, when Michael had been visiting the stables just as a wild horse got loose. Basilius, a young groom from peasant Macedonian stock, had saved Michael's life. The groom's strength and courage had impressed Michael, who immediately raised Basilius from die obscurity of being a horse trainer to die position of head of die stables. He loaded his friend with gifts and favors and tiiey became inseparable. Basilius was sent to the finest school in Byzantium, and the crude peasant became a cultured and sophisticated courtier. Now Michael was emperor, and in need of someone loyal. Who could he better trust with the post of chamberlain and chief councillor than a young man who owed him everything Basilius could be trained for the job and Michael loved him like a brother. Ignoring die advice of those who recommended die much more qualified Bardas, Michael chose his friend. Basilius learned well and was soon advising the emperor on all matters of state. The only problem seemed to be moneyBasilius never had enough. Exposure to the splendor of Byzantine court life made him avaricious for the perks of power. Michael doubled, then tripled his salary, ennobled him, and married him off to his own mistress, Eudoxia Ingerina. Keeping such a trusted friend and adviser satisfied was worth any price. But more trouble was to come. Bardas was now head of die army, and Basilius convinced Michael diat die man was hopelessly ambitious. Under die illusion diat he could control his nephew, Bardas had conspired to put him on the dirone, and he could conspire again, diis time to get rid of Michael and assume die crown himself. Basilius poured poison into Michael's ear until the emperor agreed to have his uncle murdered. During a great horse race, Basilius closed in on Bardas in the crowd and stabbed him to death. Soon after, Basilius asked that he replace Bardas as head of the army, where he could keep control of die realm and quell rebellion. This was granted. Now Basilius's power and wealdi only grew, and a few years later Michael, in financial straits from his own extravagance, asked him to pay back some of die money he had borrowed over the years. To Michael's shock and astonishment, Basilius refused, wiui a look of such impudence To have a good enemy, choose a friend: He knows where to strike. Diane de Poitiers, 1499-1566, mistress of Henri II of France Every time I bestow a vacant office I make a hundred discontented persons and one ingrate. Louis XIV, 1638-1715 Thus for my own part I have more than once been deceived by the person I loved most and of whose love, above everyone else's, I have been most confident. So that I believe that it rnay be right to love and serve one person above all others, according to merit and worth, but never to trust so much in this tempting trap of friendship as to have cause to repent of it later on. Baldassare Castiglione, 1478-1529 I'l II', SNAKK. TIIK I ARMKR. AM) TIIK IIKIiON A snake chased by hunters asked a farmer to save its life. To hide it from its pursuers, the farmer squatted and let the snake crawl into his belly. But when the danger had passed and the farmer asked the snake to come out, the snake refused. It was warm and safe inside. On his way home, the man saw a heron and went up to him and whispered what had happened. The heron told him to squat and strain to eject the snake. When the snake snuck its head out, the heron caught it, pulled it out, and killed it. The farmer was worried that the snake's poison might still be inside him, and the heron told him that the cure for snake poison was to cook and eat six white fowl. “ You 're a white fo w I, ” said the farmer. “You'll do for a start.” He grabbed the heron, put it in a bag, and carried it home, where he hung it up while he told his wife what had happened. “I'm surprised at you,” said the wife. “The bird does you a kindness, rids you of the evil in your belly, saves your life in fact, yet you catch it and talk of killing it. ” She immediately released the heron, and it flew away. But on its way, it gouged out her eyes. Moral: When you see water flo wing uphill, it means that someone that me emperor suddenly realized his predicament: The former stable boy had more money, more allies in the army and senate, and in the end more power than the emperor himself. A few weeks later, after a night of heavy drinking, Michael awoke to find himself surrounded by soldiers. Basilius watched as they stabbed the emperor to death. Then, after proclaiming himself emperor, he rode his horse through the streets of Byzantium, brandishing the head of his former benefactor and best friend at die end of a long pike. Interpretation Michael III staked his future on the sense of gratitude he thought Basilius must feel for him. Surely Basilius would serve him best; he owed die emperor his wealtii, his education, and his position. Then, once Basilius was in power, anything he needed it was best to give to him, strengdiening the bonds between the two men. It was only on the fateful day when the emperor saw that impudent smile on Basilius's face diat he realized his deadly mistake. He had created a monster. He had allowed a man to see power up closea man who tiien wanted more, who asked for anything and got it, who felt encumbered by the charity he had received and simply did what many people do in such a situation: They forget the favors they have received and imagine they have earned dieir success by their own merits. At Michael's moment of realization, he could still have saved his own life, but friendship and love blind every man to their interests. Nobody believes a friend can betray. And Michael went on disbelieving until the day his head ended up on a pike. Lord, protect me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies. Voltaire, 1694-1778 OBSERVANCE OF THE LAW For several centuries after the fall of the Han Dynasty (a.D. 222), Chinese history followed the same pattern of violent and bloody coups, one after the other. Army men would plot to kill a weak emperor, dien would replace him on the Dragon Throne with a strong general. The general would start a new dynasty and crown himself emperor; to ensure his own survival he would kill off his fellow generals. A few years later, however, die pattern would resume: New generals would rise up and assassinate him or his sons in their turn. To be emperor of China was to be alone, surrounded by a pack of enemiesit was die least powerful, least secure position in the realm. In A.D. 959, General Chao K'uang-yin became Emperor Sung. He knew die odds, die probability diat witiiin a year or two he would be murdered; how could he break the pattern Soon after becoming emperor, Sung ordered a banquet to celebrate the new dynasty, and invited die most powerful commanders in die army. After tiiey had drunk much wine, he is repaying a kindness. African folk faff dismissed the guards and everybody else except the generals, who now feared he would murder them in one fell swoop. Instead, he addressed them: “The whole day is spent in fear, and I am unhappy both at the table and in my bed. For which one of you does not dream of ascending the throne I do not doubt your allegiance, but if by some chance your subordinates, seeking wealth and position, were to force die emperor's yellow robe upon you in turn, how could you refuse it” Drunk and fearing for their lives, the generals proclaimed their innocence and their loyalty. But Sung had other ideas: “The best way to pass one's days is in peaceful enjoyment of riches and honor. If you are willing to give up your commands, I am ready to provide you with fine estates and beautiful dwellings where you may take your pleasure with singers and girls as your companions.” The astonished generals realized that instead of a life of anxiety and struggle Sung was offering diem riches and security. The next day, all of me generals tendered their resignations, and diey retired as nobles to the estates mat Sung bestowed on them. In one stroke, Sung turned a pack of “friendly” wolves, who would likely have betrayed him, into a group of docile lambs, far from all power. Over the next few years Sung continued his campaign to secure his rule. In A.D. 971, King Liu of the Southern Han finally surrendered to him after years of rebellion. To Liu's astonishment, Sung gave him a rank in die imperial court and invited him to the palace to seal meir newfound friendship widi wine. As King Liu took the glass that Sung offered him, he hesitated, fearing it contained poison. “Your subject's crimes certainly merit deafh,” he cried out, “but I beg Your Majesty to spare your subject's life. Indeed I dare not drink this wine.” Emperor Sung laughed, took die glass from Liu, and swallowed it himself. There was no poison. From men on Liu became his most trusted and loyal friend. At me time, China had splintered into many smaller kingdoms. When Ch'ien Shu, the king of one of these, was defeated, Sung's ministers advised the emperor to lock diis rebel up. They presented documents proving that he was still conspiring to kill Sung. When Ch'ien Shu came to visit the emperor, however, instead of locking him up, Sung honored him. He also gave him a package, which he told the former king to open when he was halfway home. Ch'ien Shu opened the bundle on his return journey and saw diat it contained all the papers documenting his conspiracy. He realized mat Sung knew of his murderous plans, yet had spared him nonetheless. This generosity won him over, and he too became one of Sung's most loyal vassals. Interpretation A Chinese proverb compares friends to die jaws and teeth of a dangerous animal: If you are not careful, you will find diem chewing you up. Emperor Sung knew die jaws he was passing between when he assumed die dirone: His “friends” in die army would chew him up like meat, and if he somehow survived, his “friends” in the government would have him for supper. There are many who think therefore that a wise prince ought, when he has the chance, to foment astutely some enmity, so that by suppressing it he will augment his greatness. Princes, and especially new ones, have found more faith and more usefulness in those men, whom at the beginning of their power they regarded with suspicion, than in those they at first confided in. Pandolfo Petrucci, prince of Siena, governed his state more by those whom he suspected than by others. Niccolo Machiavelli, 1469-1527 A brahman, a great expert in Veda who has become a great archer as well, offers his services to his good friend, who is now the king. The brahman cries out when he sees the king, “Recognize me, your friend!” The king answers him with contempt and then explains: "Yes, we were friends before, but our friendship was based on what power we had. . . . I was friends with you, good brahman, because it served my purpose. No pauper is friend to the rich, no fool to the wise, no coward to the brave. An old friend who needs him It is two men of equal wealth and equal birth who contract friendship and marriage, not a rich man and a pauper.... An old friendwho needs him THE MAHABHARATA, C. THIRD CENTURY B.C. Pick up a bee from kindness, and learn the limitations of kindness. Sufi proverb Emperor Sung would have no truck with “friends”he bribed his fellow generals witii splendid estates and kept diem far away. This was a much better way to emasculate them than killing them, which would only have led other generals to seek vengeance. And Sung would have nothing to do with “friendly” ministers. More often than not, they would end up drinking his famous cup of poisoned wine. Instead of relying on friends, Sung used his enemies, one after the other, transforming them into far more reliable subjects. While a friend expects more and more favors, and seethes with jealousy, these former enemies expected nothing and got everything. A man suddenly spared the guillotine is a grateful man indeed, and will go to die ends of die earth for the man who has pardoned him. In time, these former enemies became Sung's most trusted friends. And Sung was finally able to break die pattern of coups, violence, and civil warthe Sung Dynasty ruled China for more man Uiree hundred years. In a speech Abraham Lincoln delivered at the height of the Civil War, he referred to the Southerners as fellow human beings who were in error. An elderly lady chastised him for not calling them irreconcilable enemies who must be destroyed. “Why, madam,” Lincoln replied, “do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends” Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit, because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure. Tacitus, c. a.d. 55-120 KEYS TO POWER It is natural to want to employ your friends when you find yourself in times of need. The world is a harsh place, and your friends soften die harshness. Besides, you know diem. Why depend on a stranger when you have a friend at hand The problem is that you often do not know your friends as well as you imagine. Friends often agree on tilings in order to avoid an argument. They cover up their unpleasant qualities so as to not offend each other. They laugh extra hard at each odier's jokes. Since honesty rarely strengthens friendship, you may never know how a friend truly feels. Friends will say that they love your poetry, adore your music, envy your taste in clothesmaybe they mean it, often they do not. When you decide to hire a friend, you gradually discover the qualities he or she has kept hidden. Strangely enough, it is your act of kindness tiiat unbalances everything. People want to feel they deserve their good fortune. The receipt of a favor can become oppressive: It means you have been chosen because you are a friend, not necessarily because you are deserving. There is almost a touch of condescension in die act of hiring friends tiiat secredy afflicts diem. The injury will come out slowly: A littie more honesty, flashes of resentment and envy here and there, and before you know it your friendship fades. The more favors and gifts you supply to revive the friendship, die less gratitude you receive. Ingratitude has a long and deep history. It has demonstrated its powers for so many centuries, that it is truly amazing that people continue to underestimate them. Better to be wary. If you never expect gratitude from a friend, you will be pleasantly surprised when they do prove grateful. The problem with using or hiring friends is that it will inevitably limit your power. The friend is rarely the one who is most able to help you; and in the end, skill and competence are far more important than friendly feelings. (Michael III had a man right under his nose who would have steered him right and kept him alive: That man was Bardas.) All working situations require a kind of distance between people. You are trying to work, not make friends; friendliness (real or false) only obscures that fact. The key to power, then, is the ability to judge who is best able to further your interests in all situations. Keep friends for friendship, but work with the skilled and competent. Your enemies, on the other hand, are an untapped gold mine that you must learn to exploit. When Talleyrand, Napoleon's foreign minister, decided in 1807 that his boss was leading France to ruin, and the time had come to turn against him, he understood the dangers of conspiring against the emperor; he needed a partner, a confederatewhat friend could he trust in such a project He chose Joseph Fouche, head of the secret police, his most hated enemy, a man who had even tried to have him assassinated. He knew that their former hatred would create an opportunity for an emotional reconciliation. He knew that Fouche would expect nothing from him, and in fact would work to prove that he was worthy of Talleyrand's choice; a person who has something to prove will move mountains for you. Finally, he knew that his relationship with Fouche would be based on mutual self-interest, and would not be contaminated by personal feeling. The selection proved perfect; although the conspirators did not succeed in toppling Napoleon, the union of such powerful but unlikely partners generated much interest in the cause; opposition to the emperor slowly began to spread. And from then on, Talleyrand and Fouche had a fruitful working relationship. Whenever you can, bury the hatchet with an enemy, and make a point of putting him in your service. As Lincoln said, you destroy an enemy when you make a friend of him. In 1971, during the Vietnam War, Henry Kissinger was the target of an unsuccessful kidnapping attempt, a conspiracy involving, among others, the renowned antiwar activist priests the Berrigan brothers, four more Catholic priests, and four nuns. In private, without informing the Secret Service or the Justice Department, Kissinger arranged a Saturday-morning meeting with three of the alleged kidnappers. Explaining to his guests that he would have most American soldiers out of Vietnam by mid-1972, he completely charmed them. They gave him some “Kidnap Kissinger” buttons and one of them remained a friend of his for years, visiting him on several occasions. This was not just a onetime ploy: Kissinger made a policy of working with those who disagreed with him. Colleagues commented that he seemed to get along better with his enemies than with his friends. Without enemies around us, we grow lazy. An enemy at our heels sharpens our wits, keeping us focused and alert. It is sometimes better, PHOI-'ITI.V; B> 01 li I'AKMIKS King Hiero chanced upon a time, speaking with one of his enemies, to be told in a reproachful manner that he had stinking breath. Whereupon the good king, being somewhat dismayed in himself, as soon as he returned home chided his wife, “How does it happen that you never told me of this problem ”The woman, being a simple, chaste, and harmless dame, said, “Sir, I had thought all men's breath had smelled so. ” Thus it is plain that faults that are evident to the senses, gross and corporal, or otherwise notorious to the world, we know by our enemies sooner than by our friends and familiars. Plutarch, c. a.d. 46-120 then, to use enemies as enemies rather than transforming them into friends or allies. Mao Tse-tung saw conflict as key in his approach to power. In 1937 the Japanese invaded China, interrupting the civil war between Mao's Communists and their enemy, the Nationalists. Fearing that the Japanese would wipe them out, some Communist leaders advocated leaving the Nationalists to fight the Japanese, and using the time to recuperate. Mao disagreed: The Japanese could not possibly defeat and occupy a vast country like China for long. Once they left, the Communists would have grown rusty if they had been out of combat for several years, and would be ill prepared to reopen their struggle with the Nationalists. To fight a formidable foe like the Japanese, in fact, would be the perfect training for the Communists' ragtag army. Mao's plan was adopted, and it worked: By the time the Japanese finally retreated, the Communists had gained the fighting experience that helped them defeat the Nationalists. Years later, a Japanese visitor tried to apologize to Mao for his country's invasion of China. Mao interrupted, “Should I not thank you instead” Widiout a worthy opponent, he explained, a man or group cannot grow stronger. Mao's strategy of constant conflict has several key components. First, be certain that in the long run you will emerge victorious. Never pick a fight with someone you are not sure you can defeat, as Mao knew the Japanese would be defeated in time. Second, if you have no apparent enemies, you must sometimes set up a convenient target, even turning a friend into an enemy. Mao used this tactic time and again in politics. Third, use such enemies to define your cause more clearly to the public, even framing it as a struggle of good against evil. Mao actually encouraged China's disagreements with the Soviet Union and the United States; without clear-cut enemies, he believed, his people would lose any sense of what Chinese Communism meant. A sharply defined enemy is a far stronger argument for your side than all the words you could possibly put together. Never let the presence of enemies upset or distress youyou are far better off with a declared opponent or two than not knowing where your real enemies lie. The man of power welcomes conflict, using enemies to enhance his reputation as a surefooted fighter who can be relied upon in times of uncertainty. Image: The Jaws of Ingratitude. Authority: Knowing what would happen Know how to use if you put a finger in enemies for your own the mouth of a lion, profit. You must learn to grab a you would stay sword not by its blade, which would clear of it. cut you, but by the handle, which allows With friends you to defend yourself. The wise man you will have profits more from his enemies, no such caution, and than a fool from his friends. if you hire them, they will (Baltasar Gracian, eat you alive with ingratitude. 1601-16 5 8) REVERSAL Although it is generally best not to mix work with friendship, there are times when a friend can be used to greater effect than an enemy. A man of power, for example, often has dirty work that has to be done, but for the sake of appearances it is generally preferable to have other people do it for him; friends often do this the best, since their affection for him makes them willing to take chances. Also, if your plans go awry for some reason, you can use a friend as a convenient scapegoat. This “fall of the favorite” was a trick often used by kings and sovereigns: They would let their closest friend at court take the fall for a mistake, since the public would not believe that they would deliberately sacrifice a friend for such a purpose. Of course, after you play that card, you have lost your friend forever. It is best, then, to reserve the scapegoat role for someone who is close to you but not too close. Finally, the problem about working with friends is that it confuses the boundaries and distances that working requires. But if both partners in the arrangement understand the dangers involved, a friend often can be employed to great effect. You must never let your guard down in such a venture, however; always be on the lookout for any signs of emotional disturbance such as envy and ingratitude. Nothing is stable in the realm of power, and even the closest of friends can be transformed into the worst of enemies. 48 Laws of Power LAW 3 CONCEAL YOUR INTENTIONS JUDGMENT Keep people off-balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions. If they have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense. Guide them far enough down the wrong path, envelop them in enough smoke, and by the time they realize your intentions, it will be too late. PART I: USE DECOYED OBJECTS OF DESIRE AND RED HERRINGS TO THROW PEOPLE OFF THE SCENT If at any point in the deception you practice people have the slightest suspicion as to your intentions, all is lost. Do not give them the chance to sense what you are up to: Throw them off the scent by dragging red herrings across the path. Use false sincerity, send ambiguous signals, set up misleading objects of desire. Unable to distinguish the genuine from the false, they cannot pick out your real goal. TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW Over several weeks, Ninon de Lenclos, the most infamous courtesan of seventeendi-century France, listened patiently as the Marquis de Sevigne explained his struggles in pursuing a beautiful but difficult young countess. Ninon was sixty-two at me time, and more than experienced in matters of love; the marquis was a lad of twenty-two, handsome, dashing, but hopelessly inexperienced in romance. At first Ninon was amused to hear the marquis talk about his mistakes, but finally she had had enough. Unable to bear ineptitude in any realm, least of all in seducing a woman, she decided to take the young man under her wing. First, hi had to understand mat mis was war, and that the beautiful countess was a Citadel to which he had to lay siege as carefully as any general. Every step had to be planned and executed with die utmost attention to detail and nuance. Instructing die marquis to start over, Ninon told him to approach the countess with a bit of distance, an air of nonchalance. The next time die two were alone togemer, she said, he would confide in the countess as would a friend but not a potential lover. This was to mrow her off the scent. The countess was no longer to take his interest in her for grantedperhaps he was only interested in friendship. Ninon planned ahead. Once the countess was confused, it would be time to make her jealous. At the next encounter, at a major fete in Paris, die marquis would show up wim a beautiful young woman at his side. This beautiful young woman had equally beautiful friends, so tiiat wherever die countess would now see die marquis, he would be surrounded by the most stunning young women in Paris. Not only would die countess be seething widi jealousy, she would come to see die marquis as someone who was desired by otiiers. It was hard for Ninon to make the marquis understand, but she patiendy explained that a woman who is interested in a man wants to see mat omer women are interested in him, too. Not only does tiiat give him instant value, it makes it all the more satisfying to snatch him from their clutches. Once the countess was jealous but intrigued, it would be time to beguile her. On Ninon's instructions, the marquis would fail to show up at affairs where die countess expected to see him. Then, suddenly, he would appear at salons he had never frequented before, but tiiat die countess at- tended often. She would be unable to predict his moves. All of this would push her into the state of emotional confusion that is a prerequisite for successful seduction. These moves were executed, and took several weeks. Ninon monitored the marquis's progress: Through her network of spies, she heard how the countess would laugh a little harder at his witticisms, listen more closely to his stories. She heard that the countess was suddenly asking questions about him. Her friends told her that at social affairs the countess would often look up at the marquis, following his steps. Ninon felt certain that the young woman was falling under his spell. It was a matter of weeks now, maybe a month or two, but if all went smoothly, the citadel would fall. A few days later the marquis was at the countess's home. They were alone. Suddenly he was a different man: This time acting on his own impulse, rather than following Ninon's instructions, he took the countess's hands and told her he was in love with her. The young woman seemed confused, a reaction he did not expect. She became polite, then excused herself. For the rest of the evening she avoided his eyes, was not there to say good-night to him. The next few times he visited he was told she was not at home. When she finally admitted him again, the two felt awkward and uncomfortable with each other. The spell was broken. Interpretation Ninon de Lenclos knew everything about the art of love. The greatest writers, thinkers, and politicians of the time had been her loversmen like La Rochefoucauld, Moliere, and Richelieu. Seduction was a game to her, to be practiced with skill. As she got older, and her reputation grew, the most important families in France would send their sons to her to be instructed in matters of love. Ninon knew that men and women are very different, but when it comes to seduction they feel the same: Deep down inside, they often sense when they are being seduced, but they give in because they enjoy the feeling of being led along. It is a pleasure to let go, and to allow the other person to detour you into a strange country. Everything in seduction, however, depends on suggestion. You cannot announce your intentions or reveal them direcdy in words. Instead you must throw your targets off the scent. To surrender to your guidance they must be appropriately confused. You have to scramble your signalsappear interested in another man or woman (the decoy), then hint at being interested in the target, then feign indifference, on and on. Such patterns not only confuse, they excite. Imagine this story from the countess's perspective: After a few of the marquis's moves, she sensed the marquis was playing some sort of game, but die game delighted her. She did not know where he was leading her, but so much the better. His moves intrigued her, each of them keeping her waiting for the next oneshe even enjoyed her jealousy and confusion, for sometimes any emotion is better than the boredom of security. Perhaps the marquis had ulterior motives; most men do. But she was willing to wait and see, and probably if she had been made to wait long enough, what he was up to would not have mattered. The moment the marquis uttered that fatal word “love,” however, all was changed. This was no longer a game widi moves, it was an artless show of passion. His intention was revealed: He was seducing her. This put everything he had done in a new light. All that before had been charming now seemed ugly and conniving; the countess felt embarrassed and used. A door closed that would never open again. Do not be held a cheat, even though it is impossible to live today without being one. Let your greatest cunning lie in covering up what looks like cunning, Baltasar (Wacidn, 1601-1658 OBSERVANCE OF THE LAW In 1850 the young Otto von Bismarck, then a thirty-five-year-old deputy in the Prussian parliament, was at a turning point in his career. The issues of the day were the unification of the many states (including Prussia) into which Germany was then divided, and a war against Austria, the powerful neighbor to the south diat hoped to keep die Germans weak and at odds, even threatening to intervene if tiiey tried to unite. Prince William, next in line to be Prussia's king, was in favor of going to war, and die parliament rallied to the cause, prepared to back any mobilization of troops. The only ones to oppose war were the present king, Frederick William IV, and his ministers, who preferred to appease the powerful Austrians. Throughout his career, Bismarck had been a loyal, even passionate supporter of Prussian might and power. He dreamed of German unification, of going to war against Austria and humiliating the country that for so long had kept Germany divided. A former soldier, he saw warfare as a glorious business. This, after all, was the man who years later would say, “The great questions of the time will be decided, not by speeches and resolutions, but by iron and blood.” Passionate patriot and lover of military glory, Bismarck nevertheless gave a speech in parliament at the height of the war fever mat astonished all who heard it. “Woe unto the statesman,” he said, “who makes war without a reason mat will still be valid when the war is over! After the war, you will all look differendy at these questions. Will you men have the courage to turn to the peasant contemplating the ashes of his farm, to the man who has been crippled, to the father who has lost his children” Not only did Bismarck go on to talk of the madness of this war, but, strangest of all, he praised Austria and defended her actions. This went against everything he had stood for. The consequences were immediate. Bismarck was against the warwhat could diis possibly mean Otiier deputies were confused, and several of them changed their votes. Eventually die king and his ministers won out, and war was averted. A few weeks after Bismarck's infamous speech, the king, grateful that he had spoken for peace, made him a cabinet minister. A few years later he became the Prussian premier. In this role he eventually led his country and a peace-loving king into a war against Austria, crushing the former empire and establishing a mighty German state, with Prussia at its head. Interpretation At me time of his speech in 1850, Bismarck made several calculations. First, he sensed that the Prussian military, which had not kept pace with other European armies, was unready for warthat Austria, in fact, might very well win, a disastrous result for the future. Second, if the war were lost and Bismarck had supported it, his career would be gravely jeopardized. The king and his conservative ministers wanted peace; Bismarck wanted power. The answer was to throw people off the scent by supporting a cause he detested, saying things he would laugh at if said by anomer. A whole country was fooled. It was because of Bismarck's speech that the king made him a minister, a position from which he quickly rose to be prime minister, attaining the power to strengthen die Prussian military and accomplish what he had wanted all along: the humiliation of Austria and the unification of Germany under Prussia's leadership. Bismarck was certainly one of die cleverest statesman who ever lived, a master of strategy and deception. No one suspected what he was up to in mis case. Had he announced his real intentions, arguing that it was better to wait now and fight later, he would not have won the argument, since most Prussians wanted war at that moment and mistakenly believed diat their army was superior to the Austrians. Had he played up to die king, asking to be made a minister in exchange for supporting peace, he would not have succeeded either: The king would have distrusted his ambition and doubted his sincerity. By being completely insincere and sending misleading signals, however, he deceived everyone, concealed his purpose, and attained every-diing he wanted. Such is the power of hiding your intentions. KEYS TO POWER Most people are open books. They say what they feel, blurt out their opinions at every opportunity, and constandy reveal their plans and intentions. They do tiiis for several reasons. First, it is easy and natural to always want to talk about one's feelings and plans for the future. It takes effort to control your tongue and monitor what you reveal. Second, many believe mat by being honest and open they are winning people's hearts and showing their good nature.They are greatly deluded. Honesty is actually a blunt instrument, which bloodies more than it cuts. Your honesty is likely to offend people; it is much more prudent to tailor your words, telling people what they want to hear rather than the coarse and ugly trum of what you feel or diink. More important, by being unabashedly open you make yourself so predictable and familiar diat it is almost impossible to respect or fear you, and power will not accrue to a person who cannot inspire such emotions. If you yearn for power, quickly lay honesty aside, and train yourself in the art of concealing your intentions. Master the art and you will always have the upper hand. Basic to an ability to conceal one's intentions is a simple truth about human nature: Our first instinct is to always trust appearances. We cannot go around doubting the reality of what we see and hearconstantly imagining that appearances concealed sometiiing else would exhaust and terrify us. This fact makes it relatively easy to conceal one's intentions. Simply dangle an object you seem to desire, a goal you seem to aim for, in front of people's eyes and they will take the appearance for reality. Once their eyes focus on the decoy, they will fail to notice what you are really up to. In seduction, set up conflicting^ signals, such as desire and indifference, and you not only throw them off the scent, you inflame meir desire to possess you. A tactic that is often effective in setting up a red herring is to appear to support an idea or cause that is actually contrary to your own sentiments. (Bismarck used this to great effect in his speech in 1850.) Most people will believe you have experienced a change of heart, since it is so unusual to play so lightly with something as emotional as one's opinions and values. The same applies for any decoyed object of desire: Seem to want something in which you are actually not at all interested and your enemies will be thrown off the scent, making all kinds of errors in their calculations. During the War of the Spanish Succession in 1711, the Duke of Marlborough, head of the English army, wanted to destroy a key French fort, because it protected a vital thoroughfare into France. Yet he knew that if he destroyed it, the French would realize what he wantedto advance down that road. Instead, then, he merely captured the fort, and garrisoned it with some of his troops, making it appear as if he wanted it for some purpose of his own. The French attacked the fort and the duke let them recapture it. Once they had it back, though, they destroyed it, figuring that the duke had wanted it for some important reason. Now that the fort was gone, the road was unprotected, and Marlborough could easily march into France. Use this tactic in the following manner: Hide your intentions not by closing up (with the risk of appearing secretive, and making people suspicious) but by talking endlessly about your desires and goals!just not your real ones. You will kill three birds with one stone: You appear friendly, open, and trusting; you conceal your intentions; and you send your rivals on time-consuming wild-goose chases. Another powerful tool in throwing people off the scent is false sincerity. People easily mistake sincerity for honesty. Remembertheir first instinct is to trust appearances, and since they value honesty and want to believe in the honesty of those around tiiem, they will rarely doubt you or see through your act. Seeming to believe what you say gives your words great weight. This is how Iago deceived and destroyed Othello: Given the depth of his emotions, the apparent sincerity of his concerns about Desde-mona's supposed infidelity, how could Othello distrust him This is also how the great con artist Yellow Kid Weil pulled the wool over suckers' eyes: Seeming to believe so deeply in the decoyed object he was dangling in front of them (a phony stock, a touted racehorse), he made its reality hard to doubt. It is important, of course, not to go too far in this area. Sincerity is a tricky tool: Appear overpassionate and you raise suspicions. Be measured and believable or your ruse will seem the put-on mat it is. To make your false sincerity an effective weapon in concealing your intentions, espouse a belief in honesty and forthrightness as important social values. Do tiiis as publicly as possible. Emphasize your position on tiiis subject by occasionally divulging some heartfelt thoughtthough only one that is actually meaningless or irrelevant, of course. Napoleon's minister Talleyrand was a master at taking people into his confidence by revealing some apparent secret. This feigned confidencea decoywould then elicit a real confidence on die other person's part. Remember: The best deceivers do everything they can to cloak their roguish qualities. They cultivate an air of honesty in one area to disguise their dishonesty in omers. Honesty is merely another decoy in their arsenal of weapons. PART II: USE SMOKE SCREENS TO DISGUISE YOUR ACTIONS Deception is always the best strategy, but the best deceptions require a screen of smoke to distract people's attention from your real purpose. The bland exteriorlike the unreadable poker faceis often the perfect smoke screen, hiding your intentions behind the comfortable and familiar. If you lead the sucker down a familiar path, he won't catch on when you lead him into a trap. OBSERVANCE OF THE LAW I In 1910, a Mr. Sam Geezil of Chicago sold his warehouse business for close to $ 1 million. He settled down to semiretirement and the managing of his many properties, but deep inside he itched for the old days of deal-making. One day a young man named Joseph Weil visited his office, wanting to buy an apartment he had up for sale. Geezil explained the terms: The price was $8,000, but he only required a down payment of $2,000. Weil said he would sleep on it, but he came back the following day and offered to pay the full $8,000 in cash, if Geezil could wait a couple of days, until a deal Weil was working on came through. Even in semiretirement, a clever businessman like Geezil was curious as to how Weil would be able to come up wim so much cash (roughly $150,000 today) so quickly. Weil seemed reluctant to say, and quickly changed the subject, but Geezil was persistent. Finally, after assurances of confidentiality, Weil told Geezil the following story. Weil's uncle was the secretary to a coterie of multimillionaire financiers. These wealthy gentlemen had purchased a hunting lodge in Michigan ten years ago, at a cheap price. They had not used die lodge for a few years, so they had decided to sell it and had asked Weil's uncle to get whatever he could for it. For reasonsgood reasonsof his own, the uncle had been nursing a grudge against the millionaires for years; this was his chance to get back at them. He would sell die property for $35,000 to a setup man (whom it was Weil's job to find). The financiers were too wealdiy to worry about this low price. The set-up man would men turn around and sell the property again for its real price, around $155,000. The uncle, Weil, and die tiiird man would split the profits from this second sale. It was all legal and for a good causethe uncle's just retribution. Geezil had heard enough: He wanted to be the set-up buyer. Weil was reluctant to involve him, but Geezil would not back down: The idea of a large profit, plus a little adventure, had him champing at the bit. Weil explained mat Geezil would have to put up the $35,000 in cash to bring die deal off. Geezil, a millionaire, said he could get die money with a snap of his fingers. Weil finally relented and agreed to arrange a meeting between the uncle, Geezil, and die financiers, in the town of Galesburg, Illinois. On die train ride to Galesburg, Geezil met the unclean impressive JKIIl'. KINC OF ISUAFI.. I-'KICNS WORSHIP Oh Till'. 1DOI. BAAL Then Jehu assembled all the people, and said to them, “Ahab served Ba 'al a little; but Jehu will serve him much more. Now therefore call to me all the prophets of Ba'al, all his worshippers and all his priests; let none be missing, for I have a great sacrifice to offer to Ba 'al; whoever is missing shall not live.” But Jehu did it with cunning in order to destroy the worshippers of Ba 'al. And Jehu ordered, “Sanctify a solemn assembly for Ba 'al. ” So they proclaimed it. And Jehu sent throughout all Israel; and all the worshippers of Ba'al came, so that there was not a man left who did not come. And they entered the house of Ba'al, and the house of Ba'al was filled from one end to the other. . . . Then Jehu went into the house of Ba'al... and he said to the worshippers of Ba'al, "Search, and see that there is no servant of the LORD here among you, but only the worshippers of Ba'al." Then he went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings. Now Jehu had stationed eighty men outside, and said, "The man who allows any of those whom I give into your hands to escape shall forfeit his life." So as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, Jehu said to the guard and to the officers, "Go in and slay them; let not a man escape." So when they put them to the sword, the guard and the officers cast them out and went into the inner room of the house of Ba'al and they brought out the pillar that was in the house of Ba'al and burned it. And they demolished the pillar of Ba 'al and demolished the house of Ba'al, and made it a latrine to this day. Thus Jehu wiped out Ba'al from Israel. old testament, 2 kings 10:18-28 man, with whom he avidly discussed business. Weil also brought along a companion, a somewhat paunchy man named George Gross. Weil explained to Geezil that he himself was a boxing trainer, that Gross was one of the promising prizefighters he trained, and that he had asked Gross to come along to make sure the fighter stayed in shape. For a promising fighter, Gross was unimpressive lookinghe had gray hair and a beer bellybut Geezil was so excited about the deal that he didn't really think about the man's flabby appearance. Once in Galesburg, Weil and his uncle went to fetch the financiers while Geezil waited in a hotel room with Gross, who promptly put on his boxing trunks. As Geezil half watched, Gross began to shadowbox. Distracted as he was, Geezil ignored how badly die boxer wheezed after a few minutes of exercise, although his style seemed real enough. An hour later, Weil and his uncle reappeared with the financiers, an impressive, intimidating group of men, all wearing fancy suits. The meetin