Book Reviews

The 48 Laws Of Power by Robert Greene -Book Notes, Summary, and Review

26. The 48 Laws Of Power - Robert Greene

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Rating: 10/10

Date of reading: 29th of July – 21st of August, 2018

Description: There are 48 laws of power and whether we like them or not, whether we want to implement them or not, we have an obligation to know them. Greene shows the laws of power and provides us examples of people who (successfully) followed the laws, but also the (tragic) stories of those who ignored the laws. Learn the rules and then trust your best judgment and ethics to use them accordingly. 


My notes:




“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 subtle—congenial yet cunning, democratic yet devious.” ( :14)

“Niccolò Machiavelli wrote, “Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good.”” ( :14)

“Another strategy of the supposed nonplayer is to demand equality in every area of life. Everyone must be treated alike, whatever their status and strength.” ( :15)

“Treating everyone equally means ignoring their differences, elevating the less skillful and suppressing those who excel” ( :15)

“But being perfectly honest will inevitably hurt and insult a great many people, some of whom will choose to injure you in return.” ( :15)

“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.” ( :15)

“Children may be naive in many ways, but they often act from an elemental need to gain control over those around them.” ( :15)

“In fact, the better you are at dealing with power, the better friend, lover, husband, wife, and person you become.” ( :16)

“An emotional response to a situation is 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.” ( :16)

“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.” ( :16)

“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.” ( :17)

“Power is essentially amoral and one of the most important skills to acquire is the ability to see circumstances rather than good or evil.” ( :18)

“Half of your mastery of power comes from what you do not do, what you do not allow yourself to get dragged into.” ( :18)

“”The value of a thing sometimes lies not in what one attains with it, but in what one pays for it —what it costs us.”” ( :18)

“Never discriminate as to whom you study and whom you trust. Never trust anyone completely and study everyone, including friends and loved ones.” ( :18)

“The laws have a simple premise: Certain actions almost always increase one’s power (the observance of the law), while others decrease it and even ruin us (the transgression of the law). These transgressions and observances are illustrated by historical examples. The laws are timeless and definitive.” ( :19)




“Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power.” ( :20)

“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” ( :20)

“and sent to the most isolated prison in France, high in the Pyrenees Mountains, where he spent the last twenty years of his life in solitary confinement.” ( :21)

“Rather than flattering Louis XIV, Fouquet’s elaborate party offended the king’s vanity. Louis would not admit this to anyone, of course—instead, he found a convenient excuse to rid himself of a man who had inadvertently made him feel insecure.” ( :21)

“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.” ( :22)

“All masters want to appear more brilliant than other people.” ( :22)

“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.” ( :23)

“Remember the following: Never take your position for granted and never let any favors you receive go to your head.” ( :23)

“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 the chance to ask for his help.” ( :23)




“The former stable boy had more money, more allies in the army and senate, and in the end more power than the emperor himself.” ( :27)

“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 the end of a long pike.” ( :27)

“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 fowl,” 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 flowing uphill, it means that someone is repaying a kindness. AFRICAN FOLK TALE” ( :27)

“They forget the favors they have received and imagine they have earned their success by their own merits.” ( :28)

“Lord, protect me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies. Voltaire, 1694-1778” ( :28)

“The astonished generals realized that instead of a life of anxiety and struggle Sung was offering them riches and security. The next day, all of the generals tendered their resignations, and they retired as nobles to the estates that Sung bestowed on them.” ( :28)

“As King Liu took the glass that Sung offered him, he hesitated, fearing it contained poison. “Your subject’s crimes certainly merit death,” 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 the glass from Liu, and swallowed it himself. There was no poison. From then on Liu became his most trusted and loyal friend.” ( :29)

“No pauper is friend to the rich, no fool to the wise, no coward to the brave. An old friend—who needs him?” ( :29)

“Pick up a bee from kindness, and learn the limitations of kindness. SUFI PROVERB” ( :30)

“he Sung Dynasty ruled China for more than three hundred years.” ( :30)

“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?”” ( :30)

“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” ( :30)

“hus 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.” ( :31)

“Whenever you can, bury the hatchet with an enemy, and make a point of putting him in your service.” ( :31)

“Colleagues commented that he seemed to get along better with his enemies than with his friends.” ( :31)

“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.” ( :32)

“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?” Without a worthy opponent, he explained, a man or group cannot grow stronger.” ( :32)

“The wise man profits more from his enemies, than a fool from his friends. (Baltasar Gracián, 1601-1658)” ( :32)




“It was hard for Ninon to make the marquis understand, but she patiently explained that a woman who is interested in a man wants to see that other women are interested in him, too. Not only does that give him instant value, it makes it all the more satisfying to snatch him from their clutches.” ( :35)

“All of this would push her into the state of emotional confusion that is a prerequisite for successful seduction.” ( :35)

“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.” ( :36)

“Everything in seduction, however, depends on suggestion. You cannot announce your intentions or reveal them directly 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 signals—appear 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.” ( :36)

“The moment the marquis uttered that fatal word “love,” however, all was changed. This was no longer a game with 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.” ( :36)

“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.”” ( :37)

“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.” ( :37)

“At the 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 war—that 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 another. 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 the Prussian military and accomplish what he had wanted all along: the humiliation of Austria and the unification of Germany under Prussia’s leadership.” ( :37)

“Had he played up to the 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.” ( :38)

“Most people are open books. They say what they feel, blurt out their opinions at every opportunity, and constantly reveal their plans and intentions. They do this 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 that 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 truth of what you feel or think. More important, by being unabashedly open you make yourself so predictable and familiar that it is almost impossible to respect or fear you, and power will not accrue to a person who cannot inspire such emotions.” ( :38)

“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 wanted—to advance down that road. Instead, then, he merely captured the fort, and garrisoned it with some of his troops, making it appear” ( :38)

“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.” ( :39)

“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.” ( :39)

“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.” ( :39)

“false sincerity. People easily mistake sincerity for honesty.” ( :39)

“Michigan ten years ago, at a cheap price. They had not used the 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 reasons—good reasons—of 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 the property for $35,000 to a set up man (whom it was Weil’s job to find). The financiers were too wealthy to worry about this low price. The set-up man would then turn around and sell the property again for its real price, around $155,000. The uncle, Weil, and the third man would split the profits from this second sale. It was all legal and for a good cause—the uncle’s just retribution.” ( :41)

“Terrified, Geezil hightailed it out of the gym and back to Chicago, leaving behind his $35,000 which he was only too glad to forget, for it seemed a small price to pay to avoid being implicated in a crime. He never wanted to see Weil or any of the others again.” ( :42)

“chicken blood and hot water that he had hidden in his cheek. The whole affair had been masterminded by Weil, better known as “the Yellow Kid,” one of the most creative con artists in history. Weil split the $35,000 with the financiers and the boxers (all fellow con artists)—a nice little profit for a few days’ work.” ( :42)

“In the mid-1920s, the powerful warlords of Ethiopia were coming to the realization that a young man of the nobility named Haile Selassie, also known as Ras Tafari, was outcompeting them all and nearing the point where he could proclaim himself their leader, unifying the country for the first time in decades.” ( :43)

“The warlord decided to obey, but in doing so he would turn the tables on this pretender to the Ethiopian throne: He would come to Addis Ababa at his own speed, and with an army of 10,000 men, a force large enough to defend himself, perhaps even start a civil war.” ( :43)

“Ethiopia’s leaders, he made a point of allowing only songs honoring the warlord of Sidamo. It seemed to Balcha that Selassie was scared, intimidated by this great warrior who could not be outwitted. Sensing the change, Balcha believed that he would be the one to call the shots in the days to come.” ( :43)

“When Balcha came in sight of his camp, however, he saw that something was terribly wrong. Where before there had been colorful tents stretching as far as the eye could see, now there was nothing, only smoke from doused fires. What devil’s magic was” ( :43)

“this? A witness told Balcha what had happened. During the banquet, a large army, commanded by an ally of Selassie’s, had stolen up on Balcha’s encampment by a side route he had not seen. This army had not come to fight, however: Knowing that Balcha would have heard a noisy battle and hurried back with his 600-man bodyguard, Selassie had armed his own troops with baskets of gold and cash. They had surrounded Balcha’s army and proceeded to purchase every last one of their weapons. Those who refused were easily intimidated. Within a few hours, Balcha’s entire force had been disarmed and scattered in all directions” ( :44)

“The other way out was to march on the capital, but Selassie had set a large army to defend it. Like a chess player, he had predicted Balcha’s moves, and had checkmated him. For the first time in his life, Balcha surrendered. To repent his sins of pride and ambition, he agreed to enter a monastery.” ( :44)

“Selassie played on the man’s wariness, his suspicion that the banquet was a trap—which in fact it was, but not the one he expected. Selassie’s way of allaying Balcha’s fears—letting him bring his bodyguard to the banquet, giving him top billing there, making him feel in control—created a thick smoke screen, concealing the real action three miles away.” ( :44)

“The paranoid and wary are often the easiest to deceive. Win their trust in one area and you have a smoke screen that blinds their view in another, letting you creep up and level them with a devastating blow.” ( :44)

“Do not underestimate the power of Tafari. He creeps like a mouse but he has jaws like a lion. Bacha of Sidamo’s last worlds before entering the monastery” ( :44)

“Behind a bland, unreadable exterior, all sorts of mayhem can be planned, without detection. This is a weapon that the most powerful men in history have learned to perfect. It was said that no one could read Franklin D. Roosevelt’s face. Baron James Rothschild made a lifelong practice of disguising his real thoughts behind bland smiles and nondescript looks. Stendhal wrote of Talleyrand, “Never was a face less of a barometer.” Henry Kissinger would bore his opponents around the negotiating table to tears with his monotonous voice, his blank look, his endless recitations of details; then, as their eyes glazed over, he would suddenly hit them with a list of bold terms.” ( :45)

“Blending in is the perfect smoke screen for spying. The better you do it, the better you can conceal your intentions.” ( :46)

“Authority: Have you ever heard of a skillful general, who intends to surprise a citadel, announcing his plan to his enemy? Conceal your purpose and hide your progress; do not disclose the extent of your designs until they cannot be opposed, until the combat is over. Win the victory before you declare the war. In a word, imitate those warlike people whose designs are not known except by the ravaged country through which they have passed. (Ninon de Lenclos, 1623-1706)” ( :46)

“No smoke screen, red herring, false sincerity, or any other diversionary device will succeed in concealing your intentions if you already have an established reputation for deception. And as you get older and achieve success, it often becomes increasingly difficult to disguise your cunning. Everyone knows you practice deception; persist in playing naive and you run the risk of seeming the rankest hypocrite, which will severely limit your room to maneuver. In such cases it is better to own up, to appear the honest rogue, or, better, the repentant rogue. Not only will you be admired for your frankness, but, most wonderful and strange of all, you will be able to continue your stratagems.” ( :46)

“As Kierkegaard wrote, “The world wants to be deceived.”” ( :47)




“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.” ( :48)

“few Romans knew him personally, making him something of a legendary figure.” ( :48)

“One oft-told tale about Kissinger… involved a report that Winston Lord had worked on for days. After giving it to Kissinger, he got it back with the notation, “Is this the best you can do?” Lord rewrote and polished and finally resubmitted it; back it came with the same curt question. After redrafting it one more time—and once again getting the same question from Kissinger-Lord snapped, “Damn it, yes, it’s the best I can do. ” To which Kissinger replied: “Fine, then I guess I’ll read it this time. ” KISSINGER. WALTER ISAACSON, 1992″ ( :49)

“The tribunes conferred, condemned Coriolanus to death, and ordered the magistrates to take him at once to the top of the Tarpeian rock and throw him over. The delighted crowd seconded the decision. The patricians, however, managed to intervene, and the sentence was commuted to a lifelong banishment. When the people found out that Rome’s great military hero would never return to the city, they celebrated in the streets. In fact no one had ever seen such a celebration, not even after the defeat of a foreign enemy.” ( :49)

“a person who cannot control his words shows that he cannot control himself, and is unworthy of respect.” ( :50)

“Your short answers and silences will put them on the defensive, and they will jump in, nervously filling the silence with all kinds of comments that will reveal valuable information about them and their weaknesses. They will leave a meeting with you feeling as if they had been robbed, and they will go home and ponder your every word. This extra attention to your brief comments will only add to your power.” ( :51)

“”I learned that you actually have more power when you shut up.”” ( :51)

“master of enigma Marcel Duchamp, another twentieth-century artist who realized early on that the less he said about his work, the more people talked about it. And the more they talked, the more valuable his work became.” ( :52)

“The trapdoor opened—but as Ryleyev dangled, the rope broke, dashing him to the ground. At the time, events like this were considered signs of providence or heavenly will, and a man saved from execution this way was usually pardoned. As Ryleyev got to his feet, bruised and dirtied but believing his neck had been saved, he called out to the crowd, “You see, in Russia they don’t know how to do anything properly, not even how to make rope!” A messenger immediately went to the Winter Palace with news of the failed hanging. Vexed by this disappointing turnabout, Nicholas I nevertheless began to sign the pardon. But then: “Did Ryleyev say anything after this miracle?” the czar asked the messenger. “Sire,” the messenger replied, “he said that in Russia they don’t even know how to make rope.” “In that case,” said the Czar, “let us prove the contrary,” and he tore up the pardon. The next day Ryleyev was hanged again. This time the rope did not break.” ( :52)




“Sima Yi had fought against Chuko Liang dozens of times and knew him well. When he came on the empty city, with Liang praying on the wall, he was stunned. The Taoist robes, the chanting, the incense —this had to be a game of intimidation. The man was obviously taunting him, daring him to walk into a trap. The game was so obvious that for one moment it crossed Yi’s mind that Liang actually was” ( :55)

“alone, and desperate. But so great was his fear of Liang that he dared not risk finding out. Such is the power of reputation. It can put a vast army on the defensive, even force them into retreat, without a single arrow being fired.” ( :56)

“even those who argue against fame still want the books they write against it to bear their name in the title and hope to become famous for despising it. Everything else is subject to barter: we will let our friends have our goods and our lives if need be; but a case of sharing our fame and making someone else the gift of our reputation is hardly to be found. Montaigne, 1533-1592” ( :56)

“On the one hand they can deny the rumors, even prove that you have slandered them. But a layer of suspicion will remain: Why are they defending themselves so desperately? Maybe the rumor has some truth to it? If, on the other hand, they take the high road and ignore you, the doubts, unrefuted, will be even stronger.” ( :57)

“It is easier to cope with a bad conscience than with a bad reputation. Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900” ( :57)

“In the beginning, you must work to establish a reputation for one outstanding quality, whether generosity or honesty or cunning. This quality sets you apart and gets other people to talk about you. You then make your reputation known to as many people as possible (subtly, though; take care to build slowly, and with a firm foundation), and watch as it spreads like wildfire.” ( :58)

“Make your reputation simple and base it on one sterling quality. This single quality—efficiency, say, or seductiveness—becomes a kind of calling card that announces your presence and places others under a spell.” ( :58)

“Casanova used his reputation as a great seducer to pave the way for his future conquests; women who had heard of his powers became immensely curious, and wanted to discover for themselves what had made him so romantically successful.” ( :58)




“”A name without fame is like fire without flame.” ( :62)

“The quality of the attention is irrelevant. No matter how badly his shows were reviewed, or how slanderously personal were the attacks on his hoaxes, Barnum would never complain. If a newspaper critic reviled him particularly badly, in fact, he made sure to invite the man to an opening and to give him the best seat in the house. He would even write anonymous attacks on his own work, just to keep his name in the papers. From Barnum’s vantage, attention—whether negative or positive —was the main ingredient of his success. The worst fate in the world for a man who yearns fame, glory, and, of course, power is to be ignored.” ( :64)

“Society craves larger-than-life figures, people who stand above the general mediocrity. Never be afraid, then, of the qualities that set you apart and draw attention to you.” ( :65)

“The prize was eventually given to a pair of English physicists; only later was it discovered that the prize committee had actually approached Edison, but he had turned them down, refusing to share the prize with Tesla.” ( :65)

“Then, near the end of World War I, she was arrested in France, tried, convicted, and finally executed as a German spy. Only during the trial did the truth come out: Mata Hari was not from Java or India, had not grown up in the Orient, did not have a drop of Eastern blood in her body. Her real name was Margaretha Zelle, and she came from the stolid northern province of Friesland, Holland.” ( :68)

“half a franc in her pocket. She was one of the thousands of beautiful young girls who flocked to Paris every year, taking work as artists’ models, nightclub dancers, or vaudeville performers at the Folies Bergère” ( :68)

“People are enthralled by mystery; because it invites constant interpretation, they never tire of it. The mysterious cannot be grasped. And what cannot be seized and consumed creates power.” ( :68)

“Both artists and con artists understand the vital link between being mysterious and attracting interest. Count Victor Lustig, the aristocrat of swindlers, played the game to perfection. He was always doing things that were different, or seemed to make no sense. He would show up at the best hotels in a limo driven by a Japanese chauffeur; no one had ever seen a Japanese chauffeur before, so this seemed exotic and strange. Lustig would dress in the most expensive clothing, but always with something—a medal, a flower, an armband—out of place, at least in conventional terms. This was seen not as tasteless but as odd and intriguing. In hotels he would be seen receiving telegrams at all hours, one after the other, brought to him by his Japanese chauffeur—telegrams he would tear up with utter nonchalance. (In fact they were fakes, completely blank.) He would sit alone in the dining room, reading a large and impressive-looking book, smiling at people yet remaining aloof. Within a few days, of course, the entire hotel would be abuzz with interest in this strange man.” ( :69)

“No one, not even his own wife, ever felt they understood him, and he therefore seemed larger than life. This also meant that the public paid constant attention to him, ever anxious to witness his next move.” ( :69)

“But in the middle of the night, the sentries looked down to see a mysterious sight: A huge procession of lights was heading up the mountain. Thousands and thousands of lights. If this was Hannibal’s army, it had suddenly grown a hundredfold. The sentries argued heatedly about what this could mean: Reinforcements from the sea? Troops that had been hidden in the area? Ghosts? No explanation made sense.” ( :70)

“By the next day, Hannibal had escaped from the marshland. What was his trick? Had he really conjured up demons? Actually what he had done was order bundles of twigs to be fastened to the horns of the thousands of oxen that traveled with his troops as beasts of burden. The twigs were then lit, giving the impression of the torches of a vast army heading up the mountain. When the flames burned down to the oxen’s skin, they stampeded in all directions, bellowing like mad and setting fires all over the mountainside. The key to this device’s success was not the torches, the fires, or the noises in themselves, however, but the fact that Hannibal had created a puzzle that captivated the sentries’ attention and gradually terrified them. From the mountaintop there was no way to explain this bizarre sight. If the sentries could have explained it they would have stayed at their posts.” ( :70)

“The attention you attract must never offend or challenge the reputation of those above you—not, at any rate, if they are secure. You will seem not only paltry but desperate by comparison.” ( :71)

“Everyone sat down and the lights were dimmed. Then, suddenly, all eyes turned to a box opposite Queen Victoria’s: A woman appeared from the shadows, taking her seat later than the queen. It was Lola Montez. She wore a diamond tiara on her dark hair and a long fur coat over her shoulders. People whispered in amazement as the ermine cloak was dropped to reveal a low-necked gown of crimson velvet. By turning their heads, the audience could see that the royal couple deliberately avoided looking at Lola’s box. They followed Victoria’s example, and for the rest of the evening Lola Montez was ignored. After that evening no one in fashionable society dared to be seen with her. All her magnetic powers were reversed. People would flee her sight. Her future in England was finished.” ( :71)




“He was a brilliant inventor, and Charles Batchelor,” ( :72)

“The elephant and the hippopotamus pulled and pulled, but neither could budge the other-they were of equal strength. They both agreed that the tortoise was as strong as they were. Never do what others can do for you. The tortoise let others do the work for him while he got the credit.” ( :72)

“There’s fifty thousand dollars in it for you—if you can do it.” Tesla labored day and night on the project and after only a year he produced a greatly improved version of the dynamo, complete with automatic controls.” ( :73)

“Westinghouse explained to the scientist that his company would not survive if it had to pay him his full royalties; he persuaded Tesla to accept a buyout of his patents for $216,000—a large sum, no doubt, but far less than the $12 million they were worth at the time. The financiers had divested Tesla of the riches, the patents, and essentially the credit for the greatest invention of his career.” ( :73)

“Guglielmo Marconi is forever linked with the invention of radio. But few know that in producing his invention—he broadcast a signal across the English Channel in 1899—Marconi made use of a patent Tesla had filed in 1897, and that his work depended on Tesla’s research. Once again Tesla received no money and no credit. Tesla invented an induction motor as well as the AC power system, and he is the real “father of radio.” Yet none of these discoveries bear his name. As an old man, he lived in poverty.” ( :73)

“Tesla was told he was to receive the Edison Medal of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. He turned the medal down. “You propose,” he said, “to honor me with a medal which I could pin upon my coat and strut for a vain hour before the members of your Institute. You would decorate my body and continue to let starve, for failure to supply recognition, my mind and its creative products, which have supplied the foundation upon which the major portion of your Institute exists.”” ( :73)

“As he grew older, though, this ruined his scientific work. Not associated with any particular discovery, he could attract no investors to his many ideas. While he pondered great inventions for the future, others stole the patents he had already” ( :73)

“developed and got the glory for themselves.” ( :74)

“Of the two poles of this game, one can be illustrated by the example of the explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa. Balboa had an obsession—the discovery of El Dorado, a legendary city of vast riches. Early in the sixteenth century, after countless hardships and brushes with death, he found evidence of a great and wealthy empire to the south of Mexico, in present-day Peru. By conquering this empire, the Incan, and seizing its gold, he would make himself the next Cortés. The problem was that even as he made this discovery, word of it spread among hundreds of other conquistadors. He did not understand that half the game was keeping it quiet, and carefully watching those around him. A few years after he discovered the location of the Incan empire, a soldier in his own army, Francisco Pizarro, helped to get him beheaded for treason. Pizarro went on to take what Balboa had spent so many years trying to find.” ( :75)

“There is another application of this law that does not require the parasitic use of your contemporaries’ labor: Use the past, a vast storehouse of knowledge and wisdom. Isaac Newton called this “standing on the shoulders of giants.”” ( :75)

“Shakespeare borrowed plots, characterizations, and even dialogue from Plutarch, among other writers, for he knew that nobody surpassed Plutarch in the writing of subtle psychology and witty quotes.” ( :75)

“Learn to use the knowledge of the past and you will look like a genius, even” ( :75)

“when you are really just a clever borrower.” ( :76)

“stupidity and folly, kings and queens who have learned the hard way how to handle the burdens of power—their knowledge is gathering dust, waiting for you to come and stand on their shoulders. Their wit can be your wit, their skill can be your skill, and they will never come around to tell people how unoriginal you really are.” ( :76)

“Bismarck once said, “Fools say that they learn by experience. I prefer to profit by others’ experience.”” ( :76)

“To be a brilliant exploiter of talent your position must be unshakable, or you will be accused of deception.” ( :76)

“Kissinger played the game expertly: He took credit for the work of those below him while graciously giving credit for his own labors to those above. That is the way to play the game.” ( :76)




“That winter, however, there occurred a series of events so strange and dramatic they might have been scripted in a play. Elba was surrounded by British ships, their cannons covering all possible exit points. Yet somehow, in broad daylight on 26 February 1815, a ship with nine hundred men on board picked up Napoleon and put to sea. The English gave chase but the ship got away. This almost impossible escape astonished the public throughout Europe, and terrified the statesmen at the Congress of Vienna.” ( :77)

“For the next hundred days, Napoleon ruled France. Soon, however, the giddiness subsided. France was bankrupt, its resources nearly exhausted, and there was little Napoleon could do about this. At the Battle of Waterloo, in June of that year, he was finally defeated for good. This time his enemies had learned their lesson: They exiled him to the barren island of Saint Helena, off the west coast of Africa. There he had no more hope of escape.” ( :78)

“Why am I always having to react to events instead of directing them? The answer is simple: Your idea of power is wrong. You have mistaken aggressive action for effective action.” ( :79)

“Once the fleet passed the Cape, the Japanese spread another false story: They were sailing to launch a counterattack. So the Russians made the entire journey to Japan on combat alert. By the time they arrived, their seamen were tense, exhausted, and overworked, while the Japanese had been waiting at their ease. Despite the odds and their lack of experience in modern naval warfare, the Japanese crushed the Russians.” ( :79)

“Manipulation is a dangerous game. Once someone suspects he is being manipulated, it becomes harder and harder to control him.” ( :80)




“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.” ( :82)

“The sultan and the other witnesses were amazed, and the sultan asked the vizier why the dogs had spared his life. The vizier replied, “I have looked after these dogs for ten days. The sultan has seen the result for himself. I have looked after you for thirty years, and what is the result? I am condemned to death on the strength of accusations brought by my enemies.” ( :83)

“Since each man believes that he is right, and words will rarely convince him otherwise, the arguer’s reasoning falls on deaf ears. When cornered, he only argues more, digging his own grave. Once he has made the other person feel insecure and inferior in his beliefs, the eloquence of Socrates could not save the situation.” ( :84)

“You must be careful, then: Learn to demonstrate the correctness of your ideas indirectly.” ( :84)

“Weeks later, as Michelangelo was putting the final touches on the statue, Soderini entered the studio. Fancying himself a bit of a connoisseur, he studied the huge work, and told Michelangelo that while he thought it was magnificent, the nose, he judged, was too big. Michelangelo realized that Soderini was standing in a place right under the giant figure and did not have the proper perspective. Without a word, he gestured for Soderini to follow him up the scaffolding. Reaching the nose, he picked up his chisel, as well as a bit of marble dust that lay on the planks. With Soderini just a few feet below him on the scaffolding, Michelangelo started to tap lightly with the chisel, letting the bits of dust he had gathered in his hand to fall little by little. He actually did nothing to change the nose, but gave every appearance of working on it. After a few minutes of this charade he stood aside: “Look at it now.” “I like it better,” replied Soderini, “you’ve made it come alive.”” ( :84)

“Fortunately for posterity, Michelangelo found a way to keep the perfection of the statue intact while at the same time making Soderini believe he had improved it. Such is the double power of winning through actions rather than argument: No one is offended, and your point is proven.” ( :85)

“The problem in trying to prove a point or gain a victory through argument is that in the end you can never be certain how it affects the people you’re arguing with: They may appear to agree with you politely, but inside they may resent you. Or perhaps something you said inadvertently even offended them—words have that insidious ability to be interpreted according to the other person’s mood and insecurities.” ( :85)

“No one can argue with a demonstrated proof. As Baltasar Gracián remarks, “The truth is generally seen, rarely heard.”” ( :86)

“Wren, the consummate engineer, knew that these columns would serve no purpose, and that the mayor’s fears were baseless. But build them he did, and the mayor was grateful. It was only years later that workmen on a high scaffold saw that the columns stopped just short of the ceiling.” ( :86)

“A heckler once interrupted Nikita Khrushchev in the middle of a speech in which he was denouncing the crimes of Stalin. “You were a colleague of Stalin’s,” the heckler yelled, “why didn’t you stop him then?” Khrushschev apparently could not see the heckler and barked out, “Who said that?” No hand went up. No one moved a muscle. After a few seconds of tense silence, Khrushchev finally said in a quiet voice, “Now you know why I didn’t stop him.” Instead of just arguing that anyone facing Stalin was afraid, knowing that the slightest sign of rebellion would mean certain death, he had made them feel what it was like to face Stalin—had made them feel the paranoia, the fear of speaking up, the terror of confronting the leader, in this case Khrushchev. The demonstration was visceral and no more argument was necessary.” ( :86)

“He paid a visit to the ruins of the ancient fortress of Masada, known to all Israelis as the place where seven hundred Jewish warriors committed mass suicide in A.D. 73 rather than give in to the Roman troops besieging them.” ( :86)

“And also choose your battles carefully. If it does not matter in the long run whether the other person agrees with you—or if time and their own experience will make them understand what you mean—then it is best not even to bother with a demonstration. Save your energy and walk away.” ( :86)

“Authority: Never argue. In society nothing must be discussed; give only results. (Benjamin Disraeli, 1804-1881)” ( :87)

“When caught in a lie, the more emotional and certain you appear, the less likely it seems that you are lying.” ( :87)

“There’s no way you can lose on that.” The sheriff reluctantly agreed. To satisfy him totally, Lustig took out a hundred one-hundred-dollar bills and gave them to him, telling him to relax and have a fun weekend in Chicago. Calmer and a little confused, the sheriff finally left. Over the next few days Lustig checked the paper every morning. He finally found what he was looking for: A short article reporting Sheriff Richards’s arrest, trial, and conviction for passing counterfeit notes. Lustig had won the argument; the sheriff never bothered him again.” ( :88)


LAW 10


“tered his room anyway. In the process, the front of her dress somehow got torn (perhaps by her, perhaps by one of the sentries), and to the astonishment of all, most especially the king, her bare breasts were brazenly exposed. Lola was granted her audience with Ludwig. Fifty-five hours later she made her debut on the Bavarian stage; the reviews were terrible, but that did not stop Ludwig from arranging more performances.” ( :90)

“In his own time Simon Thomas was a great doctor. I remember that I happened to meet him one day at the home of a rich old consumptive: He told his patient when discussing ways to cure him that one means was to provide occasions for me to enjoy his company: He could then fix his eyes on the freshness of my countenance and his thoughts on the overflowing cheerfulness and vigor of my young manhood; by filling all his senses with the flower of my youth his condition might improve. He forgot to add that mine might get worse.” ( :90)

“MONTAIGNE, 1533-1592” ( :91)

“Sleepiness can be infectious, and yawning as well. In largescale strategy when the enemy is agitated and shows an inclination to rush, do not mind in the least. Make a show of complete calmness, and the enemy will be taken by this and will become relaxed. You infect their spirit. You can infect them with a carefree, drunklike spirit, with boredom, or even weakness. A BOOK OF FIVE RINGS, MIYAMOTO MUSASHI, SEVENTEENTH CENTURY” ( :91)

“At the age of forty-one, Lola gave away her clothes and finery and turned to God. She toured America, lecturing on religious topics, dressed in white and wearing a halolike white headgear. She died two years later, in 1861.” ( :91)

“It would be a great thing if we could raise them up, change their patterns, but more often than not it is their patterns that end up getting inside and changing us. The reason is simple—humans are extremely susceptible to the moods, emotions, and even the ways of thinking of those with whom they spend their time.” ( :92)

“esar sensed the man’s interminable sourness, he passed him up for the position of first praetorship, and gave the position to Brutus instead. Cassius brooded and brooded, his hatred for Caesar becoming patliological. Brutus himself, a devoted republican, disliked Caesar’s dictatorship; had he had the patience to wait, he would have become the first man in Rome after Caesar’s death, and could have undone the evil that the leader had wrought. But Cassius infected him with his own rancor, bending his ear daily with tales of Caesar’s evil. He finally won Brutus over to the conspiracy. It was the beginning of a great tragedy. How many misfortunes could have been avoided had Brutus learned to fear the power of infection.” ( :93)

“There is only one solution to infection: quarantine.” ( :93)

“The answer lies in judging people on the effects they have on the world and not on the reasons they give for their prob-Image: A Virus.” ( :93)

“The answer lies in judging people on the effects they have on the world and not on the reasons they give for their prob-Image: A Virus. Unseen, it lems.” ( :93)

“There was no one Napoleon admired more than Talleyrand. He envied his minister’s way with people, his wit and his ability to charm women, and as best he could, he kept Talleyrand around him, hoping to soak up the culture he lacked.” ( :93)

“This law admits of no reversal. Its application is universal. There is nothing to be gained by associating with those who infect you with their misery; there is only power and good fortune to be obtained by associating with the fortunate. Ignore this law at your peril.” ( :94)


LAW 11


“To maintain your independence you must always be needed and wanted. The more you are relied on, the more freedom you have.” ( :95)

“At last one of them stood before the assembly called to debate this matter and said, “Let us kill him and then worship him as our patron saint.” And so they did.” ( :95)

“Two horses were carrying two loads. The front Horse went well, but the rear Horse was lazy. The men began to pile the rear Horse’s load on the front Horse; when they had transferred it all, the rear Horse found it easy going, and he said to the front Horse: “Toil and sraeat! The more you try, the more you have to suffer.” When they reached the tavern, the owner said; “Why should I fodder two horses when I carry all on one? I had better give the one all the food it wants, and cut the throat of the other; at least I shall have the hide.” And so he did.” ( :95)

“Be the only one who can do what you do, and make the fate of those who hire you so entwined with yours that they cannot possibly get rid of you. Otherwise you will someday be forced to cross your own Bridge of Sighs.” ( :96)

“Now Bismarck finagled the king into letting himself be crowned emperor of Germany. Yet it was really Bismarck who had reached the heights of power. As right-hand man to the emperor, and as imperial chancellor and knighted prince, he pulled all the levers.” ( :97)

“Necessity rules the world. People rarely act unless compelled to. If you create no need for yourself, then you will be done away with at first opportunity.” ( :97)

“The best way to achieve this position is to create a relationship of dependence. The master requires your services; he is weak, or unable to function without you; you have enmeshed yourself in his work so deeply that doing away with you would bring him great difficulty, or at least would mean valuable time lost in training another to replace you.” ( :98)

“Do not be one of the many who mistakenly believe that the ultimate form of power is independence. Power involves a relationship between people; you will always need others as allies, pawns, or even as weak masters who serve as your front.” ( :98)

“The astrologer soon arrived, but before giving the signal, Louis decided to ask him one last” ( :98)

“question: “You claim to understand astrology and to know the fate of others, so tell me what your fate will be and how long you have to live.” “I shall die just three days before Your Majesty,” the astrologer replied. The king’s signal was never given. The man’s life was spared.” ( :99)

“The astrologer survived Louis by several years, disproving his power of prophecy but proving his mastery of power. This is the model: Make others dependent on you.” ( :99)

“You do not have to have the talent of a Michelangelo; you do have to have a skill that sets you apart from the crowd. You should create a situation in which you can always latch on to another master or patron but your master cannot easily ,find another servant with your particular talent. And if, in reality, you are not actually indispensable, you must find a way to make it look as if you are. Having the appearance of specialized knowledge and skill gives you leeway in your ability to deceive those above you into thinking they cannot do without you. Real dependence on your master’s part, however, leaves him more vulnerable to you than the faked variety, and it is always within your power to make your skill indispensable.” ( :99)

“Still, the intensive form of power provides more freedom than the extensive, because those who have it depend on no particular master, or particular position of power, for their security.” ( :100)

“But, as Machiavelli said, it is better to be feared than loved. Fear you can control; love, never.” ( :100)

“They also stir up powerful resentment, making their enemies bond together to fight them. The drive for complete control is often ruinous and fruitless. Interdependence remains the law, independence a rare and often fatal exception.” ( :100)


LAW 12


“”Double it in sixty days like you said.” Lustig left with the money, put it in a safe-deposit box in Chicago, then headed to New York, where he had several other money-making schemes in progress. The $50,000 remained in the bank box untouched. Lustig made no effort to double it. Two months later he returned to Chicago, took the money from the box, and paid Capone another visit. He looked at the gangster’s stony-faced bodyguards, smiled apologetically, and said, “Please accept my profound regrets, Mr. Capone. I’m sorry to report that the plan failed… I failed.” Capone slowly stood up. He glowered at Lustig, debating which part of the river to throw him in. But the count reached into his coat pocket, withdrew the $50,000, and placed it on the desk. “Here, sir, is your money, to the penny. Again, my sincere apologies. This is most embarrassing. Things didn’t work out the way I thought they would. I would have loved to have doubled your money for you and for myself—Lord knows I need it—but the plan just didn’t materialize.”” ( :101)

“He counted out five one-thousand-dollar bills out of the $50,000. The count seemed stunned, bowed deeply, mumbled his thanks, and left, taking the money. The $5,000 was what Lustig had been after all along.” ( :102)

“Everything turns gray when I don’t have at least one mark on the horizon. Life then seems empty and depressing. I cannot understand honest men.” ( :102)

“They lead desperate lives, full of boredom. Count Victor Lustig, 1890-1947” ( :103)

“Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, was disgusted with this idea; it was unmanly. Better for thousands to die on the battlefield than to gain victory so deceitfully.” ( :104)

“One gift did more for the Greek cause than ten years of fighting.” ( :104)

“The man was a Faliscan teacher, and the children, it turned out, were the sons and daughters of the noblest and wealthiest citizens of the town. On the pretense of taking these children out for a walk, he had led them straight to the Romans, offering them as hostages in hopes of ingratiating himself with Camillus, the city’s enemy. Camillus did not take the children hostage. He stripped the teacher, tied his hands behind his back, gave each child a rod, and let them whip him all the way back to the city. The gesture had an immediate effect on the Faliscans.” ( :104)

“Lustig bothered him. At the meeting in which he was to hand over the money, Lustig sensed his sudden distrust. Leaning over to the industrialist, Lustig explained, in a low whisper, how low his salary was, how difficult his finances were, on and on. After a few minutes of this, the industrialist realized that Lustig was asking for a bribe. For the first time he relaxed.” ( :105)

“Lustig bothered him. At the meeting in which he was to hand over the money, Lustig sensed his sudden distrust. Leaning over to the industrialist, Lustig explained, in a low whisper, how low his salary was, how difficult his finances were, on and on. After a few minutes of this, the industrialist realized that Lustig was asking for a bribe. For the first time he relaxed. Now he knew he could trust Lustig: Since all government officials were dishonest, Lustig had to be real.” ( :105)


LAW 13


“Stefano di Poggio is the embodiment of all those who believe that the justice and nobility of their cause will prevail.” ( :107)

“When Castruccio was told that it had been a terrible wrong to kill such an old friend, he replied that he had executed not an old friend but a new enemy.” ( :107)

“Most men are so thoroughly subjective that nothing really interests them but themselves. They always think of their own case as soon as ever any remark is made, and their whole attention is engrossed and absorbed by the merest chance reference to anything which affects them personally,” ( :107)

“be it never so remote.” ( :108)

“In 433 B.C., just before the Peloponnesian War, the island of Corcyra (later called Corfu) and the Greek city-state of Corinth stood on the brink of conflict. Both parties sent ambassadors to Athens to try to win over the Athenians to their side. The stakes were high, since whoever had Athens on his side was sure to win. And whoever won the war would certainly give the defeated side no mercy. Corcyra spoke first. Its ambassador began by admitting that the island had never helped Athens before, and in fact had allied itself with Athens’s enemies. There were no ties of friendship or gratitude between Corcyra and Athens. Yes, the ambassador admitted, he had come to Athens now out of fear and concern for Corcyra’s safety. The only thing he could offer was an alliance of mutual interests. Corcyra had a navy only surpassed in size and strength by Athens’s own; an alliance between the two states would create a formidable force, one that could intimidate the rival state of Sparta. That, unfortunately, was all Corcyra had to offer. The representative from Corinth then gave a brilliant, passionate speech, in sharp contrast to the dry, colorless approach of the Corcyran. He talked of everything Corinth had done for Athens in the past. He asked how it would look to Athens’s other allies if the city put an agreement with a former enemy over one with a present friend, one that had served Athens’s interest loyally: Perhaps those allies would break their agreements with Athens if they saw that their loyalty was not valued. He referred to Hellenic law, and the need to repay Corinth for all its good deeds. He finally went on to list the many services Corinth had performed for Athens, and the importance of showing gratitude to one’s friends. After the speech, the Athenians debated the issue in an assembly. On the second round, they voted overwhelmingly to ally with Corcyra and drop Corinth.” ( :108)

“What the Corinthian ambassador did not realize was that his references to Corinth’s past generosity to Athens only irritated the Athenians, subtly asking them to feel guilty and putting them under obligation.” ( :108)

“They start from the assumption that the people they are appealing to have a selfless interest in helping them. They talk as if their needs mattered to these people—who probably couldn’t care less.” ( :109)

“What they do not realize is that even the most powerful person is locked inside needs of his own, and that if you make no appeal to his self-interest, he merely sees you as desperate or, at best, a waste of time.” ( :109)

“Authority: The shortest and best way to make your fortune is to let people see clearly that it is in their interests to promote yours. (Jean de La Bruyère, 1645-1696)” ( :110)

“Some people will see an appeal to their self-interest as ugly and ignoble. They actually prefer to be” ( :110)

“able to exercise charity, mercy, and justice, which are their ways of feeling superior to you: When you beg them for help, you emphasize their power and position.” ( :111)


LAW 14


“When they returned to New York, Mellon visited Duveen’s exclusive gallery and fell in love with the collection. Everything, surprisingly enough, seemed to be precisely the kind of work he wanted to collect. For the rest of his life he was Duveen’s best and most generous client.” ( :113)

“Rulers see through spies, as cows through smell, Brahmins through scriptures and the rest of the people through their normal eyes. Kautilya, Indian philosopher third century B. C.” ( :113)

“Throughout Talleyrand’s life, people said he was a superb conversa tionalist—yet he actually said very little. He never talked about his own ideas; he got others to reveal theirs.” ( :114)

“If you have reason to suspect that a person is telling you a lie, look as though you believed every word he said. This will give him courage to go on; he will become more vehement in his assertions, and in the end betray himself. Again, if you perceive that a person is trying to conceal something from you, but with only partial success, look as though you did not believe him. The opposition on your part will provoke him into leading out his reserve of truth and bringing the whole force of it to bear upon your incredulity.” ( :114)

“a Rochefoucauld, who wrote, “Sincerity is found in very few men, and is often the cleverest of ruses—one is sincere in order to draw out the confidence and secrets of the other.”” ( :114)


LAW 15


“No rivalry between leaders is more celebrated in Chinese history than the struggle between Hsiang Yu and Liu Pang. These two generals began their careers as friends, fighting on the same side. Hsiang Yu came from the nobility; large and powerful, given to bouts of violence and temper, a bit dull witted, he was yet a mighty warrior who always fought at the head of his troops. Liu Pang came from peasant stock. He had never been much of a soldier, and preferred women and wine to fighting; in fact, he was something of a scoundrel. But he was wily, and he had the ability to recognize the best strategists, keep them as his advisers, and listen to their advice. He had risen in the army through these strengths.” ( :117)

“Fan Tseng, who warned him, “This village headman [Liu Pang] used to be greedy only for riches and women, but since entering the capital he has not been led astray by wealth, wine, or sex. That shows he is aiming high.”” ( :118)

“iu Pang learned this lesson well. After defeating Hsiang Yu, this son of a farmer went on to become supreme commander of the armies of Ch’u. Crushing his next rival—the king of Ch’u, his own former leader—he crowned himself emperor, defeated everyone in his path, and went down in history as one of the greatest rulers of China, the immortal Han Kao-tsu, founder of the Han Dynasty. To have ultimate victory, you must be ruthless.” ( :119)

“Those who seek to achieve things should show no mercy. Kautilya, Indian philosopher third century B.C.” ( :120)

“Wu became emperor because there was literally nobody left from the previous T’ang dynasty. And” ( :120)

“so she ruled unchallenged, for over a decade of relative peace. In 705, at the age of eighty, she was forced to abdicate.” ( :121)

“A priest asked the dying Spanish statesman and general Ramón Maria Narváez. (1800-1868), “Does your Excellency forgive all your enemies ? “I do not have to forgive my enemies,” answered Narváez, “I have had them all shot. “” ( :121)

“”We do claim that direct annihilation of the enemy’s forces must always be the dominant consideration…. Once a major victory is achieved there must be no talk of rest, of breathing space… but only of the pursuit, going for the enemy again, seizing his capital, attacking his reserves and anything else that might give his country aid and comfort.”” ( :122)


LAW 16


“Giving no reason for your absence excites even more: The other person assumes he or she is at fault. While you are away, the lover’s imagination takes flight, and a stimulated imagination cannot help but make love grow stronger.” ( :126)

“Absence diminishes minor passions and inflames great ones, as the wind douses a candle and fans a fire. La Rochefoucauld, 1613-1680” ( :126)

“Deioces ruled for fifty-three years, extended the Medean empire, and established the foundation for what would later be the Persian empire, under his great-great-grandson Cyrus. During Deioces’ reign, the people’s respect for him gradually turned into a form of worship: He was not a mere mortal, they believed, but the son of a god.” ( :127)

“Herodotus wrote, “There was a risk that if they saw him habitually, it might lead to jealousy and resentment, and plots would follow; but if nobody saw him, the legend would grow that he was a” ( :127)

“being of a different order from mere men.”” ( :128)

“Novelists J. D. Salinger and Thomas Pynchon have created cultlike followings by knowing when to disappear.” ( :128)

“This law only applies once a certain level of power has been attained. The need to withdraw only comes after you have established your presence; leave too early and you do not increase your respect, you are simply forgotten.” ( :130)

“Remember: In the beginning, make yourself not scarce but omnipresent. Only what is seen, appreciated, and loved will be missed in its absence.” ( :130)


LAW 17


“terrible case of the jitters. At 5:09 Fischer showed up, exactly one minute before the match was to be canceled.” ( :132)

“This game was different. Fischer made a terrible move early on, perhaps the worst of his career, and when Spassky had him on the ropes, he seemed to give up. Yet Spassky knew that Fischer never gave up. Even when facing checkmate, he fought to the bitter end, wearing the opponent down. This time, though, he seemed resigned. Then suddenly he broke out a bold move that put the room in a buzz. The move shocked Spassky, but he recovered and managed to win the game. But no one could figure out what Fischer was up to. Had he lost deliberately? Or was he rattled? Unsettled? Even, as some thought, insane?” ( :132)

“He tried to keep playing, but his mind was unraveling. He could not go on. On September 2, he resigned. Although still relatively young, he never recovered from this defeat.” ( :132)

“Chess contains the concentrated essence of life: First, because to win you have to be supremely patient and farseeing; and second, because the game is built on patterns, whole sequences of moves that have been played before and will be played again, with slight alterations, in any one match.” ( :133)


LAW 18


“The danger for most people comes when they feel threatened. In such times they tend to retreat and close ranks, to find security in a kind of fortress. In doing so, however, they come to rely for information on a smaller and smaller circle, and lose perspective on events around them.” ( :141)

“The danger is, however, that this kind of isolation will sire all kinds of strange and perverted ideas. You may gain perspective on the larger picture, but you lose a sense of your own smallness and limitations. Also, the more isolated you are, the harder it is to break out of your isolation when you choose to—it sinks you deep into its quicksand without your noticing. If you need time to think, then, choose isolation only as a last resort, and only in small doses. Be careful to keep your way back into society open.” ( :143)


LAW 19


“The highest form of the art of power is the ability to distinguish the wolves from the lambs, the foxes from the hares, the hawks from the vultures.” ( :144)

“When you meet a swordsman, draw your sword: Do not recite poetry to one who is not a poet. FROM A CH’AN BUDDHIST CLASSIC, QUOTED IN THUNDER IN THE SKY, TRANSLATED BY THOMAS CLEARY, 1993” ( :144)

“After five years of hunting, Norfleet had single-handedly destroyed the country’s largest” ( :147)

“confederation of con artists. The effort bankrupted him and ruined his marriage, but he died a satisfied man.” ( :148)


LAW 20


“Play the Virgin Queen: Give them hope but never satisfaction.” ( :151)

“As your reputation for independence grows, more and more people will come to desire you, wanting to be the one who gets you to commit.” ( :153)

“Nixon man. When Nixon was reelected in 1972, men much more loyal to him than Kissinger were fired. Kissinger was also the only Nixon high official to survive Watergate and serve under the next president, Gerald Ford. By maintaining a little distance he thrived in turbulent times.” ( :154)

“Their aloofness is powerful, and everyone wants them on their side.” ( :154)

“When you want to seduce a woman, Stendhal advises, court her sister first.” ( :154)

“The weak benefit by the quarrels of the mighty. ” INDIAN FABLES” ( :155)

“A great deal changed in Italy during Isabella’s reign: Popes came and went, Cesare Borgia rose and then fell, Venice lost its empire, Milan was invaded, Florence fell into decline, and Rome was sacked by the Hapsburg Emperor Charles V Through all this, tiny Mantua not only survived but thrived, its court the envy of Italy. Its wealth and sovereignty would remain intact for a century after Isabella’s death, in 1539.” ( :157)

“With every battle they grow weaker, while you grow stronger with every battle you avoid. When the snipe and the mussel struggle, the fisherman gets the benefit. Ancient Chinese saying” ( :158)

“The fox again put on his spectacles and looked judiciously at the cat’s share. “Right you are!” said the fox. “Just a moment, and I’ll make it right.” And he went and bit off a piece from the dog’s cheese This went on so long, with the fox nibbling first at the dog’s and then at the cat’s share. that he finally ate up the whole cheese before their eyes.” ( :159)

“Remember: You have only so much energy and so much time. Every moment wasted on the affairs of others subtracts from your strength. You may be afraid that people will condemn you as heartless, but in the end, maintaining your independence and self-reliance will gain you more respect and place you in a position of power from which you can choose to help others on your own initiative.” ( :160)

“Authority: Regard it as more courageous not to become involved in an engagement than to win in battle, and where there is already one interfering fool, take care that there shall not be two. (Baltasar Gracian, 1601-1658)” ( :160)


LAW 21


“A few weeks later, on their first trip back to the site, they learned the hard truth: Not a single diamond or ruby was to be found. It was all a fake. They were ruined. Harpending had unwittingly lured the richest men in the world into the biggest scam of the century.” ( :164)

“In the end, Harpending’s reputation was ruined and he never recovered; Rothschild learned his lesson and never fell for another con; Slack took his money and disappeared from view, never to be found. Arnold simply went home to Kentucky. After all, his sale of his mining rights had been legitimate; the buyers had taken the best advice, and if the mine had run out of diamonds, that was their problem. Arnold used the money to greatly enlarge his farm and open up a bank of his own.” ( :164)

“The night before the negotiations were to begin, Bismarck innocently engaged Blome in a game of quinze. The Prussian would later write, “That was the very last time I ever played quinze. I played so recklessly that everyone was astonished. I lost several thousand talers [the currency of the time], but I succeeded in fooling [Blome], for he believed me to be more venturesome than I am and I gave way.”” ( :165)

“As soon as the ink was dry, a joyous Bismarck exclaimed in his face, “Well, I could never have believed that I should find an Austrian diplomat willing to sign that document!”” ( :165)

“Know how to make use of stupidity: The wisest man plays this card at times. There are occasions when the highest wisdom consists in appearing not to know—you must not be ignorant but capable of playing it.” ( :166)

“Know how to make use of stupidity: The wisest man plays this card at times. There are occasions when the highest wisdom consists in appearing not to know—you must not be ignorant but capable of playing it. It is not much good being wise among fools and sane among lunatics. He who poses as a fool is not a fool. The best way to be well received by all is to clothe yourself in the skin of the dumbest of brutes. (Baltasar Gracián, 1601-1658)” ( :166)


LAW 22


“The Athenians wasted no time—they put to death all the men of military age that they could capture, they sold the women and children as slaves, and they repopulated the island with their own colonists. Only a handful of Melians survived.” ( :169)

“Hang the Frenchman,”they yelled. Voltaire calmly addressed the mob with the following words: “Men of England’ You wish to kill me because I am a Frenchman. Am I not punished enough in not being born an Englishman?” The crowd cheered his thoughtfill words, and escorted him safely back to his lodgings.” ( :169)

“Weak people never give way when they ought to.” ( :169)

“Cardinal de Retz, 1613-1679” ( :170)

“Brecht answered the question of whether he belonged to the Communist Party: He was not a member, he said, which happened to be the truth. One committee member asked him, “Is it true you have written a number of revolutionary plays?” Brecht had written many plays with overt Communist messages, but he responded, “I have written a number of poems and songs and plays in the fight against Hitler and, of course, they can be considered, therefore, as revolutionary because I, of course, was for the overthrow of that government.”” ( :170)

“”No,” he responded, “I wrote a German poem, which is very different from this.” The author’s elusive answers baffled the committee members, but his politeness and the way he yielded to their authority made it impossible for them to get angry with him.” ( :171)

“After only an hour of questioning, the committee members had had enough. “Thank you very much,” said the chairman, “You are a good example to the [other] witnesses.” Not only did they free him, they offered to help him if he had any trouble with immigration officials who might detain him for their own reasons. The following day, Brecht left the United States, never to return” ( :171)

“When the great lord passes, the wise peasant bows deeply and silently farts. Ethiophan proverb” ( :171)

“By yielding, you in fact control the situation, because your surrender is part of a larger plan to lull them into believing they have defeated you.” ( :172)

“Inwardly you stay firm, but outwardly you bend.” ( :172)

“Milan Kundera’s novel The Joke, based on the author’s experiences in a penal camp in Czechoslovakia, tells the story of how the prison guards organized a relay race, guards against prisoners. For the guards this was a chance to show off their physical superiority. The prisoners knew they were expected to lose, so they went out of their way to oblige—miming exaggerated exertion while barely moving, running a few yards and collapsing, limping, jogging ever so slowly while the” ( :172)

“Both by joining the race and by losing it, they had obliged the guards obediently; but their “overobedience” had mocked the event to the point of ruining it.” ( :173)

“guards raced ahead at full speed. Both by joining the race and by losing it, they had obliged the guards obediently; but their “overobedience” had mocked the event to the point of ruining it. Overobedience —surrender—was here a way to demonstrate superiority in a reverse manner. Resistance would have engaged the prisoners in the cycle of violence, lowering them to the guards’ level. Overobeying the guards, however, made them ridiculous, yet they could not rightly punish the prisoners, who had only done what they asked.” ( :173)

“Authority: Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let them have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. (Jesus Christ, in Matthew 5:38-41)” ( :173)

“For every famous martyr there are thousands more who have inspired neither a religion nor a rebellion, so that if martyrdom does sometimes grant a certain power, it does so unpredictably.” ( :174)


LAW 23


“intensity defeats extensity every time.” ( :175)

“Once Mayer Amschel’s sons controlled the family business, they decided that the key to wealth on a larger scale was to secure a foothold in the finances of Europe as a whole, rather than being tied to any one country or prince. Of the five brothers, Nathan had already opened up shop in London. In 1813 James moved to Paris. Amschel remained in Frankfurt, Salomon established himself in Vienna, and Karl, the youngest son, went to Naples. With each sphere of influence covered, they could tighten their hold on Europe’s financial markets” ( :177)

“In 1824 James Rothschild decided it was time to get married. This presented a problem for the Rothschilds, since it meant incorporating an outsider into the Rothschild clan, an outsider who could betray its secrets. James therefore decided to marry within the family, and chose the daughter of his brother Salomon. The brothers were ecstatic—this was the perfect solution to their marriage problems. James’s choice now became the family policy: Two years later, Nathan married off his daughter to Salomon’s son. In the years to come, the five brothers arranged eighteen matches among their children, sixteen of these being contracted between first cousins.” ( :177)

“Throughout his life Aretino suffered the indignities of having to please this prince and that. At last, he had had enough, and decided to woo Charles V, promising the emperor the services of his powerful pen. He finally discovered the freedom that came from attachment to a single source of power. Michelangelo found this freedom with Pope Julius II, Galileo with the Medicis. In the end, the single patron appreciates your loyalty and becomes dependent on your services; in the long run the master serves the slave.” ( :179)

“Authority: Prize intensity more than extensity. Perfection resides in quality, not quantity. Extent alone never rises above mediocrity, and it is the misfortune of men with wide general interests that while they would like to have their finger in every pie, they have one in none. Intensity gives eminence, and rises to the heroic in matters sublime. (Baltasar Gracián, 1601-1658)” ( :179)


LAW 24


“Great courtiers throughout history have mastered the science of manipulating people. They make the king feel more kingly; they make everyone else fear their power.” ( :181)

“There may be no more” ( :181)

“Sun Kings but there are still plenty of people who believe the sun revolves around them.” ( :182)

“Wax, a substance naturally hard and brittle, can be made soft by the application of a little warmth, so that it will take any shape you please. In the same way, by being polite and friendly, you can make people pliable and obliging, even though they are apt to be crabbed and malevolent. Hence politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.” ( :183)

“You must change your style and your way of speaking to suit each person. This is not lying, it is acting, and acting is an art, not a gift from God. Learn the art. This is also true for the great variety of cultures found in the modern court: Never assume that your criteria of behavior and judgment are universal. Not only is an inability to adapt to another culture the height of barbarism, it puts you at a disadvantage.” ( :183)

“You must be the master of your own face. Call it lying if you like; but if you prefer to not play the game and to always be honest and upfront, do not complain when others call you obnoxious and arrogant.” ( :184)

“Aristotle had schooled Callisthenes in the skills of being a courtier, but the young man secretly scoffed at them. He believed in pure philosophy, in unadorned words, in speaking the naked truth. If Alexander loved learning so much, Callisthenes thought, he could not object to one who spoke his mind. During one of Alexander’s major campaigns, Callisthenes spoke his mind one too many times and Alexander had him put to death.” ( :185)

“To be made safely, their criticisms had to be indirect—yet if they were too indirect they would not be heeded. The chronicles were their solution: Identify no one person as the source of criticism, make the advice as impersonal as possible, but let the emperor know the gravity of the situation” ( :186)

“At the age of thirty, having used these methods time and time again, Mansart received a prestigious royal commission: Although he was less talented and experienced than a number of other French designers, he was to take charge of the enlargement of Versailles. He was the king’s architect from then on.” ( :186)

“Never imagine that skill and talent are all that matter. In court the courtier’s art is more important than his talent; never spend so much time on your studies that you neglect your social skills. And the greatest skill of all is the ability to make the master look more talented than those around him.” ( :186)

“The ever polite Isabey agreed that the great duke should indeed be the center of attention. Back in his studio, Isabey pondered the dilemma. If he gave the spotlight to either of the two men, he could create a diplomatic rift, stirring up all sorts of resentment at a time when peace and concord were critical. When the painting was finally unveiled, however, both Talleyrand and Wellington felt honored and satisfied. The work depicts a large hall filled with diplomats and politicians from all over Europe. On one side the Duke of Wellington enters the room, and all eyes are turned toward him; he is the “center” of attention. In the very center of the painting, meanwhile, sits Talleyrand.” ( :187)

“host as Big Ben. Since trimness of figure was an important quality for a dandy, this was a withering criticism. At dinner once, when the service was slow, Brummell said to the prince, “Do ring, Big Ben.” The prince rang, but when the valet arrived he ordered the man to show Brummell the door and never admit him again. Despite falling into the prince’s disfavor, Brummell continued to treat everyone around him with the same arrogance. Without the Prince of Wales’ patronage to support him, he sank into horrible debt, but he maintained his insolent manners, and everyone soon abandoned him. He died in the most pitiable poverty, alone and deranged.” ( :187)

“One afternoon in ancient China, Chao, ruler of Han from 358 to 333 B.C., got drunk and fell asleep in the palace gardens. The court crown-keeper, whose sole task was to look after the ruler’s head apparel, passed through the gardens and saw his master sleeping without a coat. Since it was getting cold, the crown-keeper placed his own coat over the ruler, and left. When Chao awoke and saw the coat upon him, he asked his attendants, “Who put more clothes on my body?” “The crown-keeper,” they replied. The ruler immediately called for his official coatkeeper and had him punished for neglecting his duties. He also called for the crown-keeper, whom he had beheaded.” ( :188)

“On several occasions Filippo saw the man who had bought him pass by, and one day he decided to sketch this man’s portrait, using burnt coal—charcoal—from the fire. Still in his chains, he found a white wall, where he drew a full-length likeness of his owner in Moorish clothing. The owner soon heard about this, for no one had seen such skill in drawing before in these parts; it seemed like a miracle, a gift from God. The drawing so pleased the owner that he instantly gave Filippo his freedom and employed him in his court. All the big men on the Barbary coast came to see the magnificent color portraits that Fra Filippo then proceeded to do, and finally, in gratitude for the honor in this way brought upon him, Filippo’s owner returned the artist safely to Italy.” ( :189)

“A little while later, the same servant announced to Alfonso that he had had yet another dream, and in this one Alfonso had given him a considerable pile of gold florins. The king smiled and said, “Don’t believe in dreams from now on; they lie.”” ( :189)

“Turner, eminent courtier, knew that his good fortune and fame depended on his fellow painters as well as on his dealers and patrons. How many of the great have been felled by envious colleagues! Better temporarily to dull your brilliance than to suffer the slings and arrows of envy.” ( :190)

“It was arranged that Napoleon would arrive at Talleyrand’s house the following day at seven A.M. and would spend the morning there. The “boar hunt” would take place in the afternoon. Throughout the morning the excited general talked nothing but boar hunting. Meanwhile, Talleyrand secretly had his servants go to the market, buy two enormous black pigs, and take them to the great park.” ( :191)

“It took months for Napoleon to be able to trust Talleyrand again, and he never totally forgave him his humiliation.” ( :192)


LAW 25


“Those who knew Sand well understood that her male persona protected her from the public’s prying eyes. Out in the world, she enjoyed playing the part to the extreme; in private she remained herself. She also realized that the character of “George Sand” could grow stale or predictable, and to avoid this she would every now and then dramatically alter the character she had created; instead of conducting affairs with famous men, she would begin meddling in politics, leading demonstrations, inspiring student rebellions.” ( :196)


LAW 26


“The judge nodded in agreement and reconsidered his verdict. “Good people of Chelm,”he said, “what you say is true. Since we have only one cobbler it would he a great wrong against the community to let him die. As there are two roofers in the town let one of them be hanged instead.” A TREASURY OF JEWISH FOLKLORE, NATHAN AUSUBEL, ED.. 1948″ ( :201)

“I would rather betray the whole world than let the world betray me. General Ts’ao Ts’ao, c. A.D. 155-220” ( :202)

“Cesare foresaw the future with amazing clarity in Romagna: Only brutal justice would bring order to the region. The process would take several years, and at first the people would welcome it. But it would soon make many enemies, and the citizens would come to resent the imposition of such unforgiving justice, especially by outsiders.” ( :203)

“When Mao Tse-tung’s Cultural Revolution failed miserably, he made no apologies or excuses to the Chinese people; instead, like Ts’ao Ts’ao before him, he offered up scapegoats, including his own personal secretary and high-ranking member of the Party, Ch’en Po-ta.” ( :204)

“D. Roosevelt had a reputation for honesty and fairness. Throughout his career, however, he faced many situations in which being the nice guy would have spelled political disaster—yet he could not be seen as the agent of any foul play. For twenty years, then, his secretary, Louis Howe, played the role de Orco had. He handled the backroom deals, the manipulation of the press, the underhanded campaign maneuvers. And whenever a mistake was committed, or a dirty trick contradicting Roosevelt’s carefully crafted image became public, Howe served as the scapegoat, and never complained.” ( :204)

“In fact it is often wise to choose the most innocent victim possible as a sacrificial goat. Such people will not be powerful enough to fight you, and their naive protests may be seen as protesting too much—may be seen, in other words, as a sign of their guilt.” ( :204)

“Legend has it that Cleopatra succeeded through her seductive charms, but in reality her power came from an ability to get people to do her bidding without realizing they were being manipulated. Caesar and Antony not only rid her of her most dangerous siblings—Ptolemy XIII and Arsinoe—they decimated all of her enemies, in both the government and the military. The two men became her cat’spaws. They entered the fire for her, did the ugly but necessary work, while shielding her from appearing as the destroyer of her siblings and fellow Egyptians. And in the end, both men acquiesced to her desire to rule Egypt not as a Roman colony but as an independent allied kingdom. And they did all this for her without realizing how she had manipulated them. This was persuasion of the subtlest and most powerful kind.” ( :208)

“In the late 1920s, civil war broke out in China as the Nationalist and Communist parties battled for control of the country. In 1927 Chiang Kai-shek, the Nationalist leader, vowed to kill every last Communist, and over the next few years he nearly accomplished his task, pushing his enemies hard until, in 1934-1935, he forced them into the Long March, a six-thousand-mile retreat from the southeast to the remote northwest, through harsh terrain, in which most of their ranks were decimated. In late 1936 Chiang planned one last offensive to wipe them out, but he was caught in a mutiny: His own soldiers captured him and turned him over to the Communists. Now he could only expect the worst.” ( :209)

“The Communists proceeded to fight the Japanese in their usual fashion, with hit-and-run guerrilla tactics, while the Nationalists fought a more conventional war. Together, after several years, they succeeded in evicting the Japanese. Now, however, Chiang finally understood what Mao had really planned. His own army had met the brunt of the Japanese artillery, was greatly weakened, and would take a few years to recover. The Communists, meanwhile, had not only avoided any direct hits from the Japanese, they had used the time to recoup their strength, and to spread out and gain pockets of influence all over China. As soon as the war against the Japanese ended, the civil war started again— but this time the Communists enveloped the weakened Nationalists and slowly beat them into submission. The Japanese had served as Mao’s cat’s-paw, inadvertently ploughing the fields for the Communists and making possible their victory over Chiang Kai-shek.” ( :209)

“A wise man, walking alone, Was being bothered by a fool throwing stones at his head. Turning to face him, he said: “My dear chap, well thrown! Please accept these few francs. You’ve worked hard enough to get more than mere thanks. Every effort deserves its reward. But see that man over there? He can afford More than I can. Present him with some of your stones: they’ll earn a good wage.” Lured by the bait, the stupid man Ran off to repeat the outrage On the other worthy citizen. This time he wasn’t paid in money for his stones. Up rushed serving-men, And seized him and thrashed him and broke all his bones.” ( :210)

“The truly powerful, on the other hand, seem never to be in a hurry or overburdened. While others work their fingers to the bone, they take their leisure.” ( :212)

“On the eve of an important river battle, the great third-century Chinese strategist Chuko Liang found himself falsely accused of secretly working for the other side. As proof of his loyalty, his commander ordered him to produce 100,000 arrows for the army within three days, or be put to death. Instead of trying to manufacture the arrows, an impossible task, Liang took a dozen boats and had bundles of straw lashed to their sides. In the late afternoon, when mist always blanketed the river, he floated the boats toward the enemy camp. Fearing a trap from the wily Chuko Liang, the enemy did not attack the barely visible boats with boats of their own, but showered them with arrows from the bank. As Liang’s boats inched closer, they redoubled the rain of arrows, which stuck in the thick straw. After several hours, the men hiding on board saile” ( :212)

“One evening David got up from his couch and, as he walked about on the roof of the palace, he saw from there a woman bathing and she was very beautiful. He sent to inquire who she was, and the answer came, “It must be Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah the Hittite….” David wrote a letter to Joab and sent Uriah with it. He wrote in the letter: “Put Uriah opposite the enemy where the fighting is fiercest and then fall back, and leave him to meet his death.”… Joab… stationed Uriah at a point where he knew they would put up a stout fight. The men of the city sallied out and engaged Joab, and some of David’s guards fell; Uriah the Hittite was also killed. Joab sent David a dispatch with all the news of the battle…. When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him; and when the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her into his house. She became his wife and bore him a son.” ( :213)

“. Eventually the failed assassination and the arguments that ensued from it set off a chain of events that led to a bloody civil war between Catholics and Protestants, culminating in the horrifying Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve, in which thousands of Protestants were killed.” ( :215)


LAW 27


“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.” ( :216)

“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.” ( :216)

“The chronicles of the new trends and cults that have made a mass following for themselves could fill a library. After a few centuries, a few decades, a few years, a few months, they generally look ridiculous, but at the time they seem so attractive, so transcendental, so divine.” ( :216)

“they stumbled on a truth of human nature: The larger the group they gathered around themselves, the easier it was to deceive.” ( :217)

“Ste p 1: Keep It Vague; Keep It Simple. To create a cult you must first attract attention.” ( :217)

“do not through actions, which are too clear and readable, but through words, which are hazy and deceptive.” ( :217)

“vagueness attractive, use words of great resonance but cloudy meaning, words full of heat and enthusiasm. Fancy titles for simple things are helpful, as are the use of numbers and the creation of new words for vague concepts.” ( :218)

“Most people’s problems have complex causes: deep-rooted neurosis, interconnected social factors, roots that go way back in time and are exceedingly hard to unravel. Few, however, have the patience to deal with this; most people want to hear that a simple solution will cure their problems. The ability to offer this kind of solution will give you great power and build you a following.” ( :218)

“You need to amuse the bored, then, and ward off the cynics.” ( :218)

“When the owl appeared among the animals it was high noon and the sun was shining brightly. He walked very slowly, which gave him an appearance of great dignity, and he peered about him with large, staring eyes, which gave him an” ( :218)

“air of tremendous importance. “He’s God!” screamed a Plymouth Rock hen. And the others took up the cry “He’s God!” So they followed him wherever he went and when he began to bump into things they began to bump into things. too. Finally he came to a concrete highway and he started up the middle of it and all the other creatures followed him. Presently a hawk, who was acting as outrider, observed a truck coming toward them at fifty miles an hour, and he reported to the secretary bird and the secretary bird reported to the owl. “There’s danger ahead, ” said the secretary bird. “To wit?” said the owl. The secretary bird told him. “Aren’t you afraid?” He asked. “Who?” said the owl calmly, for he could not see the truck. “He’s God!” cried all the creatures again, and they were still crying “He’s God!” when the truck hit them and ran them down. Some of the animals were merely injured, but most of them, including the owl, were killed. Moral: You can fool too many of the people too much of the time.” ( :219)

“To emphasize your gathering’s quasi-religious nature, talk and act like a prophet. You are not a dictator, after all; you are a priest, a guru, a sage, a shaman, or any other word that hides your real power in the mist of religion.” ( :219)

“By surrounding yourself with luxury you become living proof of the soundness of your belief system. Never reveal that your wealth actually comes from your followers’ pockets; instead, make it seem to come from the truth of your methods.” ( :219)

“By surrounding yourself with luxury you become living proof of the soundness of your belief system. Never reveal that your wealth actually comes from your followers’ pockets; instead, make it seem to come from the truth of your methods. Followers will copy your each and every move in the belief that it will bring them the same results, and their imitative enthusiasm will blind them to the charlatan nature of your wealth.” ( :219)

“If you have no enemies, invent one. Given a straw man to react against, your followers will tighten and cohere. They have your cause to believe in and infidels to destroy.” ( :220)

“Borri—whom they called “His Excellency,” and “Universal Doctor”—demanded from them the strictest vows of poverty. All the goods and moneys they possessed had to be turned over to him. But they did not mind handing over their property, for Borri had told them, “I shall soon bring my chemical studies to a happy conclusion by the discovery of the philosopher’s stone, and by this means” ( :220)

“we shall all have as much gold as we desire.”” ( :221)

“To become the founder of a new religion one must be psychologically infallible in one’s knowledge of a certain average type of souls who have not yet recognized that they belong together. FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, 1844-1900” ( :221)

“Men are so simple of mind, and so much dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived. NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI, 1469-1527” ( :221)

“And so Borri’s power grew and grew, until one day he left the city of Amsterdam (where he had settled for a while), absconding with huge sums of borrowed money and diamonds that had been entrusted to him. (He claimed to be able to remove the flaws from diamonds through the power of his gifted mind.) Now he was on the run. The Inquisition eventually caught up with him, and for the last twenty years of his life he was imprisoned in Rome. But so great was the belief in his occult powers that to his dying day he was visited by wealthy believers, including Queen Christina of Sweden. Supplying him with money and materials, these visitors allowed him to continue his search for the elusive philosopher’s stone.” ( :221)

“Remember: People are not interested in the truth about change. They do not want to hear that it has come from hard work, or from anything as banal as exhaustion, boredom, or depression; they are dying to believe in something romantic, otherworldly. They want to hear of angels and out-of-body experiences. Indulge them. Hint at the mystical source of some personal change, wrap it in ethereal colors, and a cultlike following will form around you. Adapt to people’s needs: The messiah must mirror the desires of his followers. And always aim high. The bigger and bolder your illusion, the better.” ( :222)

“Europe’s fashionable society of a Swiss country doctor named Michael Schüppach who practiced a different kind of medicine:” ( :222)

“In 1788, at the age of fifty-five, the doctor and scientist Franz Mesmer was at a crossroads.” ( :224)

“A great crowd of men, women and children, all running toward the synagogue. “What’s iep?” he cried, sticking his head out of the window. “What a question! Why, don’t you know?” they answered. “Right in front of the synagogue there’s a sea monster. It’s a creature with five legs, three eyes, and a beard like that of a goat, only it’s green!” And as the crowd hurried by, Reb Feivel suddenly noticed that the rabbi himself was among them. “Lord of the world!” he exclaimed. “If the rabbi himself is running with them surely there must be something happening. Where there’s smoke there’s fire!” Without further thought Reb Feivel grabbed his hat, left his house, and also began running. “Who can tell?” he muttered to himself as he ran, all out of breath, toward the synagogue. A TREASURY OF JEWISH FOLKLORE, NATHAN AUSUBEL, ED., 1948″ ( :225)

“Mesmer expanded his theories to proclaim that all humanity could be brought into harmony through the power of magnetism, a concept with much appeal during the French Revolution. A cult of Mesmerism spread across the country; in many towns,” ( :226)

“They tended to be led by libertines who would turn their sessions into a kind of group orgy.” ( :226)

“Most important, from now on he practiced his magnetism only on a group. The group provided the setting in which the magnetism would have its proper effect, one believer infecting the other, overwhelming any individual doubter.” ( :226)

“The biggest trick of all was to play on the repressed sexuality that bubbles under the surface of any group setting. In a group, a longing for social unity, a longing older than civilization, cries out to be awakened.” ( :226)

“Our tendency to doubt, the distance that allows us to reason, is broken down when we join a group.” ( :226)

“Authority: The charlatan achieves his great power by simply opening a possibility for men to believe what they already want to believe…. The credulous cannot keep at a distance; they crowd around the wonder worker, entering his personal aura, surrendering themselves to illusion with a heavy solemnity, like cattle. (Grete de Francesco)” ( :227)

“following is that a group is often easier to deceive than an individual, and turns over to you that much more power.” ( :227)

“For this reason you may often prefer to deal with people one by one. Isolating them from their normal milieu can have the same effect as putting them in a group—it makes them more prone to suggestion and intimidation. Choose the right sucker and if he eventually sees through you he may prove easier to escape than a crowd.” ( :227)


LAW 28


“The path of pleasure never leads to glory!” ( :228)

“The reasoner then departed; but the adventurous man rushed with his eyes closed across the water; neither depth nor violence prevented him. and according to the inscription he saw the elephant lying on the opposite bank. He took it and carried it to the top of the hill, where he saw a town. A shriek from the elephant alarmed the people of the city, who rose in arms; but the adventurer, nothing daunted, was determined to die a hero. The people, however, were awed by his presence, and he was astonished to hear them proclaim him successor to their king, who had recently died. Great enterprises are only achieved by adventurous spirits. They who calculate with too great nicety every difficulty and obstacle which is likely to lie in their way, lose that time in hesitation, which the more daring seize and render available to the loftiest purposes. FABLES. JEAN DE LA FONTAINE, 1621-1695” ( :228)

“Hesitation puts obstacles in your path, boldness eliminates them.” ( :229)

“Con artists know that the bolder the lie, the more convincing it becomes. The sheer audacity of the story makes it more credible, distracting attention from its inconsistencies.” ( :229)

“If, in a first encounter, you demonstrate your willingness to compromise, back down, and retreat, you bring out the lion even in people who are not necessarily bloodthirsty.” ( :229)

“In seduction, hesitation is fatal—it makes your victim conscious of your intentions. The bold move crowns seduction with triumph: It leaves no time for reflection.” ( :229)

“It dawned on Monsieur P. that this high government official was asking for a bribe. The effect on him, though, was not outrage but relief. Now he was sure that Lustig was for real, since in all of his previous encounters with French bureaucrats, they had inevitably asked for a little greasing of the palm. His confidence restored, Monsieur P. slipped the director several thousand francs in bills, then handed him the certified check. In return he received the documentation, including an impressive-looking bill of sale. He left the hotel, dreaming of the profits and fame to come. Over the next few days, however, as Monsieur P. waited for correspondence from the government,” ( :230)

“he began to realize that something was amiss. A few telephone calls made it clear that there was no deputy director general Lustig, and there were no plans to destroy the Eiffel Tower: He had been bilked of over 250,000 francs! Monsieur P. never went to the police. He knew what kind of reputation he would get if word got out that he had fallen for one of the most absurdly audacious cons in history. Besides the public humiliation, it would have been business suicide.” ( :231)

“Had Count Victor Lustig, con artist extraordinaire, tried to sell the Arc de Triomphe, a bridge over the Seine, a statue of Balzac, no one would have believed him. But the Eiffel Tower was just too large, too improbable to be part of a con job. In fact it was so improbable that Lustig was able to return to Paris six months later and “resell” the Eiffel Tower to a different scrap-iron dealer, and for a higher price—a sum in francs equivalent today to over $1,500,000!” ( :231)

“If you sense that the sucker has suspicions, do as the intrepid Lustig did: Instead of backing down, or lowering his price, he simply raised his price higher, by asking for and getting a bribe.” ( :231)

“the city, he slopped a passing gentleman. “Hello, my friend! Who is the richest man in town?” “Poor countryman! Don’t you know Bvôn-ssi, the millionaire? His glittering tile-roofed house pierced by twelve gates is just over there.” Huh Saeng bent his steps to the rich man’s house. Having entered the btg gate, he flung the guest-room door open and addressed the host:”I need 10,000 yang for capital for my commercial business and I want you to lend me the money.” “Alright, sir. Where shall I send the money?” “To the Ansông Market in care of a commission merchant.” “Very well. sir. I will draw on Kim, who does the biggest commission business in the Ansông Market. You’ll get the money there.” “Good-bye. sir.” When Huh Saeng was gone, all the other guests in the room asked Bvôn-ssi why he gave so much money to a beggarlike stranger whose family name was unknown to him. But the” ( :231)

“rich man replied with a triumphant face: “Even though he was in ragged clothes, he spoke clearly to the point without betraying shame or inferiority, unlike common people who want to borrow money for a bad debt. Such a man as he is either mad or self-confident in doing business. But judging from his dauntless eyes and booming voice he is an uncommon man with a superhuman brain, worthy of my trust. I know money and I know men. Money often makes a man small, but a man like him makes big money. I am only glad to have helped a big man do big business.” BEHIND THE SCENES OF ROYAL PALACES IN KOREA, HA TAE-HUNG, 1983″ ( :232)

“Throughout all this Ivan maintained a strict silence. To the boyars it seemed that their plan had worked: The young man had turned into a terrified and obedient idiot. They could ignore him now, even leave him alone. But on the evening of December 29, 1543, Ivan, now thirteen, asked Prince Andrei Shuisky to come to his room. When the prince arrived, the room was filled with palace guards. Young Ivan then pointed his finger at Andrei and ordered the guards to arrest him, have him killed, and throw his body to the bloodhounds in the royal kennel. Over the next few days Ivan had all of Andrei’s close associates arrested and banished. Caught off-guard by his sudden boldness, the boyars now stood in mortal terror of this youth, the future Ivan the Terrible, who had planned and waited for five years to execute this one swift and bold act that would secure his power for decades to come.” ( :232)

“On and on the anonymous pamphlet went, sparing none of the great in Rome, not even the pope. With each one it took aim at their best-known weakness. The pamphlet ended with verse, “See to it that Aretino is your friend / For he is a bad enemy to have. / His words alone could ruin the high pope / So God guard everyone from his tongue.”” ( :233)

“The larger the target, the more attention you gain. The bolder the attack, the more you stand out from the crowd, and the more admiration you earn. Society is full of those who think daring thoughts but lack the guts to print and publicize them. Voice what the public feels—the expression of shared feelings is always powerful. Search out the most prominent target possible and sling your boldest shot. The world will enjoy the spectacle, and will honor the underdog—you, that is —with glory and power.” ( :234)

“Although we may disguise our timidity as a concern for others, a desire not to hurt or offend them, in fact it is the opposite—we are really self-absorbed, worried about ourselves and how others perceive us. Boldness, on the other hand, is outer-directed, and often makes people feel more at ease, since it is less self-conscious and less repressed.” ( :234)

“All great seducers succeed through effrontery” ( :234)

“At no point during the seduction would he show hesitation or doubt, simply because he never felt it.” ( :235)

“The moment the seducer hesitates, the charm is broken, because we become aware of the process, of their deliberate effort to seduce us, of their selfconsciousness.” ( :235)

“”A reasonable man in love may act like a madman, but he should not and cannot act like an idiot.”” ( :235)

“You must practice and develop your boldness. You will often find uses for it. The best place to begin is often the delicate world of negotiation, particularly those discussions in which you are asked to set your own price. How often we put ourselves down by asking for too little. When Christopher Columbus proposed that the Spanish court finance his voyage to the Americas, he also made the insanely bold demand that he be called “Grand Admiral of the Ocean.” The court agreed. The price he set was the price he received—he demanded to be treated with respect, and so he was. Henry Kissinger too knew that in negotiation, bold demands work better than starting off with piecemeal concessions and trying to meet the other person halfway. Set your value high, and then, as Count Lustig did, set it higher.” ( :235)

“Boldness should never be the strategy behind all of your actions. It is a tactical instrument, to be used at the right moment. Plan and think ahead, and make the final element the bold move that will bring you success.” ( :236)


LAW 29


“There are very few men—and they are the exceptions—who are able to think and feel beyond the present moment. CARL VON CLAUSEWITZ, 1780-1831” ( :238)

“On his return voyage to Spain, this man drowned; the drowning was accidental, but under Spanish law, Balboa had murdered the governor and usurped his position.” ( :239)

“Balboa became the first European to lay eyes on the Pacific Ocean.” ( :239)

“Pedrarias had in any case invited Balboa back to discuss a new plan, and on the outskirts of the settlement, the explorer was met by Francisco Pizarro, an old friend who had accompanied him on his first crossing of the isthmus. But this was a trap: Leading one hundred soldiers, Pizarro surrounded his former friend, arrested him, and returned him to Pedrarias, who tried him on charges of rebellion. A few days later Balboa’s head fell into a basket, along with those of his most trusted followers. Years later Pizarro himself reached Peru, and Balboa’s deeds were forgotten.” ( :240)

“The king, seeing that the surgeon was now trembling, asked him what was wrong with hun. And so he confessed the truth, at that very moment. The plotter was seized; and the king sent for all the people who had been present when the abdal gave his advice, and said to them: “Do you still laugh at the dervish?” CARAVAN OF DREAMS. IDRIES SHAH, 1968″ ( :240)

“Most men are ruled by the heart, not the head. Their plans are vague, and when they meet obstacles they improvise. But improvisation will only bring you as far as the next crisis, and is never a substitute for thinking several steps ahead and planning to the end.” ( :241)

“What good is it to have the greatest dream in the world if others reap the benefits and the glory? Never lose your head over a vague, open-ended dream—plan to the end.” ( :241)

“The world began to see that Austria was weakening and that Prussia was on the rise.” ( :241)

“German kingdoms vehemently opposed such a war. But Bismarck, undaunted, succeeded in forcing the conflict, and Prussia’s superior army defeated the Austrians in the brutally short Seven Weeks War.” ( :241)

“taking as much land from Austria as possible. But Bismarck stopped them —now he presented himself as on the side of peace.” ( :241)

“and its allies destroyed the enemy army in a matter of months. Although Bismarck opposed taking any French land, the generals convinced him that Alsace-Lorraine would become part of the federation.” ( :242)

“But then something strange happened: Bismarck instigated no more wars. And while the other European powers grabbed up land for colonies in other continents, he severely limited Germany’s colonial acquisitions. He did not want more land for Germany, but more security. For the rest of his life he struggled to maintain peace in Europe and to prevent further wars. Everybody assumed he had changed, mellowing with the years. They had failed to understand: This was the final move of his original plan.” ( :242)

“He who asks fortune-tellers the future unwittingly forfeits an inner intimation of coming events that is a thousand times more exact than anything they may say. WALTER BENJAMIN, 1892-1940” ( :242)

“From the beginning of his career in politics, Bismarck had one goal: to form an independent German state led by Prussia.” ( :242)

“From the beginning of his career in politics, Bismarck had one goal: to form an independent German state led by Prussia. He instigated the war with Denmark not to conquer territory but to stir up Prussian nationalism and unite the country. He incited the war with Austria only to gain Prussian independence. (This was why he refused to grab Austrian territory.) And he fomented the war with France to unite the German kingdoms against a common enemy, and thus to prepare for the formation of a united Germany.” ( :242)

“In 415 B.C., the ancient Athenians attacked Sicily, believing their expedition would bring them riches, power, and a glorious ending to the sixteen-year Peloponnesian War. They did not consider the dangers of an invasion so far from home; they did not foresee that the Sicilians would fight all the harder since the battles were in their own homeland, or that all of Athens’s enemies would band together against them, or that war would break out on several fronts, stretching their forces way too thin. The Sicilian expedition was a complete disaster, leading to the destruction of one of the greatest civilizations of all time. The Athenians were led into this disaster by their hearts, not their minds. They saw only the chance of glory, not the dangers that loomed in the distance.” ( :243)

“So much of power is not what you do but what you do not do—the rash and foolish actions that you refrain from before they get you into trouble.” ( :243)

“The French elections of 1848 came down to a struggle between Louis-Adolphe Thiers, the man of order, and General Louis Eugène Cavaignac, the rabble-rouser of the right. When Thiers realized he was hopelessly behind in this high-stakes race, he searched desperately for a solution. His eye fell on Louis Bonaparte, grand-nephew of the great general Napoleon, and a lowly deputy in the parliament. This Bonaparte seemed a bit of an imbecile, but his name alone could get him elected in a country yearning for a strong ruler. He would be Thiers’s puppet and eventually would be pushed offstage. The first part of the plan worked to perfection, and Napoleon was elected by a large margin. The problem was that Thiers had not foreseen one simple fact: This “imbecile” was in fact a man of enormous ambition. Three years later he dissolved parliament, declared himself emperor, and ruled France for another eighteen years, much to the horror of Thiers and his party.” ( :244)

“Your conclusion must be crystal clear, and you must keep it constantly in mind. You must also figure out how to ward off the vultures circling overhead, trying to live off the carcass of your creation. And you must anticipate the many possible crises that will tempt you to improvise. Bismarck overcame these dangers because he planned to the end, kept on course through every crisis, and never let others steal the glory. Once he had reached his stated goal, he withdrew into his shell like a turtle. This kind of self-control is godlike.” ( :244)


LAW 30


“On another evening, while having tea at a friend’s house, Rikyu saw his host go outside, hold up a lantern in the darkness, cut a lemon off a tree, and bring it in. This charmed Rikyu—the host needed a relish for the dish he was serving, and had spontaneously gone outside to get one. But when the man offered the lemon with some Osaka rice cake, Rikyu realized that he had planned the cutting of the lemon all along, to go with this expensive delicacy.” ( :247)

“He had accidentally revealed how hard he was trying. Having seen enough, Rikyu politely declined the cake, excused himself, and left.” ( :247)

“When Lord Sakai arrived, later that same day, he was awed by the lantern, which was more magnificent than he had imagined—so graceful and at one with the elements. Fortunately he had no idea what time and effort it had cost Yorinobu to create this sublime effect.” ( :247)

“At the gong the youth barged forward with a lusty yell, only to be confronted with the unfamiliar 360th feint. The master seized his former pupil, lifted him high above his head, and flung him crashing to the ground. The sultan and the assembly let out a loud cheer. When the sultan asked the master how he was able to overcome such a strong opponent, the master confessed that he had reserved a secret technique for himself for just such a contingency. Then he related the lamentation of a master of archery, who taught everything he knew. “No one has learned archery from me,” the poor fellow complained, “who has not tried to use me as a butt in the end.”” ( :248)

“Nature created such things by its own laws and processes, but men had to create their effects through labor and contrivance. And when they showed the effort of producing the effect, the effect was spoiled.” ( :248)

“Nature does not reveal its tricks, and what imitates nature by appearing effortless approximates nature’s power.” ( :248)

“The crowd watched the experts secure the manacles on Houdini’s wrists. Then the escape artist” ( :248)

“entered a black cabinet on stage. The minutes went by; the more time passed, the more certain it seemed that these manacles would be the first to defeat him. At one point he emerged from the cabinet, and asked that the cuffs be temporarily removed so that he could take off his coat—it was hot inside. The challengers refused, suspecting his request was a trick to find out how the locks worked. Undeterred, and without using his hands, Houdini managed to lift the coat over his shoulders, turn it inside out, remove a penknife from his vest pocket with his teeth, and, by moving his head, cut the coat off his arms. Freed from the coat, he stepped back into the cabinet, the audience roaring with approval at his grace and dexterity. Finally, having kept the audience waiting long enough, Houdini emerged from the cabinet a second time, now with his hands free, the manacles raised high in triumph. To this day no one knows how he managed the escape. Although he had taken close to an hour to free himself, he had never looked concerned, had shown no sign of doubt” ( :249)

“nineteen weeks. No one has ever really explained how he did this, for in the auditorium where he performed the trick,” ( :249)

“The cuffs that Kleppini himself had opened behind the screen with the word “C-L-E-F-S” (French for “keys”) now clicked open only with the word “F-R-A-U-D.” Kleppini never figured out how Houdini had accomplished this uncanny feat.” ( :250)

“Although we do not know for certain how Houdini accomplished many of his most ingenious escapes, one thing is clear: It was not the occult, or any kind of magic, that gave him his powers, but hard work and endless practice, all of which he carefully concealed from the world. Houdini never left anything to chance—day and night he studied the workings of locks, researched centuries-old sleight-of-hand tricks, pored over books on mechanics, whatever he could use. Every moment not spent researching he spent working his body, keeping himself exceptionally limber, and learning how to control his muscles and his breathing.” ( :250)

“Kleppini, in fact, was completely outwitted by Houdini, who set the whole thing up. He let his opponent learn the code to the French cuffs, then baited him into choosing those cuffs onstage. Then, during the two men’s tussle, the dexterous Houdini was able to change the code to “F-R-A-U-D.” He had spent weeks practicing this trick, but the audience saw none of the sweat and toil behind the scenes. Nor was Houdini ever nervous; he induced nervousness in others. (He deliberately dragged out the time it would take to escape, as a way of heightening the drama, and making the audience squirm.) His escapes from death, always graceful and easy, made him look like a superman” ( :250)

“Never expose the sweat and labor behind your poise. Some think such exposure will demonstrate their diligence and honesty, but it actually just makes them look weaker— as if anyone who practiced and worked at it could do what they had done, or as if they weren’t really up to the job. Keep your effort and your tricks to yourself and you seem to have the grace and ease of a god. One never sees the source of a god’s power revealed; one only sees its effects.” ( :250)

“One of the first European writers to expound on this principle came from that most unnatural of environments, the Renaissance court. In The Book of the Courtier, published in 1528, Baldassare Castiglione describes the highly elaborate and codified manners of the perfect court citizen.” ( :251)

“sprezzatura, the capacity to make the difficult seem easy.” ( :251)

“When you reveal the inner workings of your creation, you become just one more mortal among others. What is understandable is not awe-inspiring —we tell ourselves we could do as well if we had the money and time.” ( :252)

“Avoid the temptation of showing how clever you are—it is far more clever to conceal the mechanisms of your cleverness.” ( :252)

“Remember: The more mystery surrounds your actions, the more awesome your power seems. You appear to be the only one who can do what you do—and the appearance of having an exclusive gift is immensely powerful.” ( :252)

“As long as the partial disclosure of tricks and techniques is carefully planned, rather than the result of an uncontrollable need to blab, it is the ultimate in cleverness. It gives the audience the illusion of being superior and involved, even while much of what you do remains concealed from them.” ( :253)


LAW 31


“Faced with a choice between civil war and the acceptance of despotic power, almost every sector of Russian society “opted” for a strong czar, calling for Ivan’s return to Moscow and the restoration of law and order. In February, with much celebration, Ivan returned to Moscow. The Russians could no longer complain if he behaved dictatorially—they had given him this power themselves.” ( :255)

“Withdrawal and disappearance are classic ways of controlling the options. You give people a sense of how things will fall apart without you, and you offer them a “choice”: I stay away and you suffer the consequences, or I return under circumstances that I dictate.” ( :255)

“”What can I do for you?” asked His Majesty. “Sire!” said the poor man, slightly bewildered “Surely you remember? You owe me a pot of gold, and I have come to collect it.” “You are a pet feet liar, sir!’ exclaimed the king “I owe you no money'” “A perfect liar, am I?” said the poor man. “Then give me the golden apple!” The king, realizing that the man was Irving to trick him. started to hedge. “No. no! You are not a liar!” “Then give me the pot of gold you owe me. sire.” said the man. The king saw the dilemma, He handed over the golden apple. ARMENIAN FOLK-IALES AND FABLES. REIOLD BY CAHARLES DOWNING. 1993″ ( :256)

“J. P. Morgan Sr. once told a jeweler of his acquaintance that he was interested in buying a pearl scarf-pin. Just a few weeks later, the jeweler happened upon a magnificent pearl. He had it mounted in an appropriate setting and sent it to Morgan, together with a bill for $5,000. The following day the package was returned. Morgan’s accompanying note read: “I like the pin, but I don’t like the price. If you will accept the enclosed check for $4,000, please send back the box with the seal unbroken.” The enraged jeweler refused the check and dismissed the messenger in disgust. He opened up the box to reclaim the unwanted pin, only to find that it had been removed. In its place was a check for $5,000″ ( :258)

“But if he tried to determine policy, he would offend or perhaps enrage a notoriously insecure man. So Kissinger would propose three or four choices of action for each situation, and would present them in such a way that the one he preferred always seemed the best solution compared to the others.” ( :259)

“His patients might seem to be recovering rapidly, but their apparent susceptibility to the therapy masked a deep resistance: They would soon relapse into old habits, blame the doctor, and stop coming to see him. To avoid this, Erickson began ordering some patients to have a relapse, to make themselves feel as bad as when they first came in—to go back to square one. Faced with this option, the patients would usually “choose” to avoid the relapse —which, of course, was what Erickson really wanted.” ( :259)

“Customers would come to Vollard’s shop to see some Cézannes. He would show three paintings, neglect to mention a price, and pretend to doze off. The visitors would have to leave without deciding. They would usually come back the next day to see the paintings again, but this time Vollard would pull out less interesting works, pretending he thought they were the same ones. The baffled customers would look at the new offerings, leave to think them over, and return yet again. Once again the same thing would happen: Vollard would show paintings of lesser quality still. Finally the buyers would realize they had better grab what he was showing them, because tomorrow they would have to settle for something worse, perhaps at even higher prices. A variation on this technique is to raise the price every time the buyer hesitates and another day goes by. This is an excellent negotiating ploy to use on the chronically indecisive, who will fall for the idea that they are getting a better deal today than if they wait till tomorrow.” ( :259)


LAW 32


“People rarely believe that their problems arise from their own misdeeds and stupidity. Someone or something out there is to blame—the other, the world, the gods—and so salvation comes from the outside as well.” ( :264)

“Never promise a gradual improvement through hard work; rather, promise the moon, the great and sudden transformation, the pot of gold.” ( :265)

“The Reality: Change is slow and gradual. It requires hard work, a bit of luck, a fair amount of selfsacrifice, and a lot of patience. The Fantasy: A sudden transformation will bring a total change in one’s fortunes, bypassing work, luck, self-sacrifice, and time in one fantastic stroke.” ( :265)

“The Reality: The social realm has hard-set codes and boundaries. We understand these limits and know that we have to move within the same familiar circles, day in and day out. The Fantasy: We can enter a totally new world with different codes and the promise of adventure.” ( :266)

“In the early 1700s, all London was abuzz with talk of a mysterious stranger, a young man named George Psalmanazar.” ( :266)

“After Psalmanazar died, however, his will revealed that he was in fact merely a Frenchman with a rich imagination. Everything he had said about Formosa—its alphabet, its language, its literature, its entire culture—he had invented. He had built on the English public’s ignorance of the place to concoct an elaborate story that fulfilled their desire for the exotic and strange. British culture’s rigid control of people’s dangerous dreams gave him the perfect opportunity to exploit their fantasy.” ( :266)

“The Reality: Society is fragmented and full of conflict. The Fantasy: People can come together in a mystical union of souls.” ( :266)

“Vermeer had been brought back to life. The past had been changed. Only later did it come out that the new Vermeers were the work of a middle-aged Dutch forger named Han van Meegeren. And he had chosen Vermeer for his scam because he understood fantasy: The paintings would seem real precisely because the public, and the experts as well, so desperately wanted to believe they were. Remember: The key to fantasy is distance. The distant has allure and promise, seems simple and problem free. What you are offering, then, should be ungraspable.” ( :267)

“The most detested person in the world is the one who always tells the truth, who never romances…. I found it far more interesting and profitable to romance than to tell the truth.” ( :267)


LAW 33


“If you suspect that someone has a particular soft spot, probe for it indirectly. If, for instance, you sense that a man has a need to be loved, openly flatter him. If he laps up your compliments, no matter how obvious, you are on the right track. Train your eye for details—how someone tips a waiter, what delights a person, the hidden messages in clothes.” ( :270)

“Look for Contrasts. An overt trait often conceals its opposite. People who thump their chests are often big cowards; a prudish exterior may hide a lascivious soul; the uptight are often screaming for adventure; the shy are dying for attention. By probing beyond appearances, you will often find people’s weaknesses in the opposite of the qualities they reveal to you.” ( :270)

“So he’s not coming down till the next weekend, so that’s when I’m going to bring it up. ” “Irving, I’m more and more confused.” “Look,” said Irving impatiently, “I know what I’m doing. I know how to sell Warner. This is a type of material that he’s uneasy with, so I have to hit him with it hard and suddenly to get an okay.” “But why Palm Springs?” “Because in Palm Springs, every day he goes to the baths at The Spa. And that’s where I’m going to be when he’s there. Now there’s a thing about Jack: He’s eighty and he’s very vain, and he doesn’t like people to see him naked. So when I walk up to him naked at The Spa—I mean he’s naked—well, I’m naked too, but I don’t care who sees me. He does. And I walk up to him naked, and I start to talk to him about this thing, he’ll be very embarrassed.And he’ll want to get away from me, and the easiest way is to say ‘Yes,’ because he knows if he says ‘No,’ then I’m going to stick with him, and stay right on it, and not give up. So to get rid of me, he’ll probably say, ‘Yes.'” Two weeks later, I read of the acquisition of this particular property by Warner Brothers. I phoned Lazar and asked how it had been accomplished. “How do you think?” he asked. “In the buff, that’s how… just the way I told you it was going to work.”” ( :271)

“Now Richelieu no longer needed Marie de Médicis. He stopped visiting and courting her, stopped listening to her opinions, even argued with her and opposed her wishes. Instead he concentrated on the king, making himself indispensable to his new master. All the previous premiers, understanding the king’s childishness, had tried to keep him out of trouble; the shrewd Richelieu played him differently, deliberately pushing him into one ambitious project after another, such as a crusade against the Huguenots and finally an extended war with Spain. The immensity of these projects only made the king more dependent on his powerful premier, the only man able to keep order in the realm” ( :272)

“Count Lustig had an eagle eye for other people’s weaknesses. He saw them in the smallest gesture. Loller, for instance, overtipped waiters, seemed nervous in conversation with the concierge, talked loudly about his business. His weakness, Lustig knew, was his need for social validation and for the respect that he thought his wealth had earned him. He was also chronically insecure. Lustig had come to the hotel to hunt for prey. In Loller he homed in on the perfect sucker—a man hungering for someone to fill his psychic voids.” ( :275)

“notorious weakness for young women, so she assigned one of her most attractive maids of honor, Louise de Rouet, to seduce him.” ( :275)

“at Catherine assigned another of her maids to Prince Condé, and thus was formed her escadron volant—”flying squadron”—of young girls whom she used to keep the unsuspecting males in the court under her control.” ( :275)

“Duveen never condescended to Arabella; rather than lecturing to her, he instilled his ideas in her indirectly. The result was one of his best and most devoted clients, and also the sale of The Blue Boy.” ( :278)

“”The great questions of the time will be decided, not by speeches and resolutions of majorities, but by iron and blood.” His speech was immediately disseminated throughout Germany.” ( :278)

“Yet as he contemplated his strategy, he decided not to apologize but to do the exact opposite. Bismarck knew the king well. When the two men met, William, predictably, had been worked into a tizzy by the queen. He reiterated his fear of being guillotined. But Bismarck only replied, “Yes, then we shall be dead! We must die sooner or later, and could there be a more respectable way of dying? I should die fighting for the cause of my king and master. Your Majesty would die sealing with your own blood your royal rights granted by God’s grace. Whether upon the scaffold or upon the battlefield makes no difference to the glorious staking of body and life on behalf of rights granted by God’s grace!” On he went, appealing to William’s sense of honor and the majesty of his position as head of the army. How could the king allow people to push him around? Wasn’t the honor of Germany more important than quibbling over words? Not only did the prime minister convince the king to stand up to both his wife and his parliament, he persuaded him to build up the army—Bismarck’s goal all along.” ( :278)

“Where a show of courage often conceals a man’s timidity, William’s timidity concealed his need to show courage and thump his chest.” ( :279)


LAW 34


“Rather it was that he disliked ceremony and the trappings of royalty; he had more friends among the bankers than among the nobility; and his style was not to create a new kind of royal rule, as Napoleon had done, but to downplay his status, the better to mix with the businessmen and middle-class folk who had called him to lead. Thus the symbols that came to be associated with Louis-Philippe were neither the scepter nor the crown, but the gray hat and umbrella with which he would proudly walk the streets of Paris, as if he were a bourgeois out for a stroll.” ( :281)

“Scoffing at the symbolism of grandeur, he believed a new world was dawning, where rulers should act and be like ordinary citizens. He was right: A new world, without kings and queens, was certainly on its way. He was profoundly wrong, however, in predicting a change in the dynamics of power.” ( :282)

“The only kind of common” ( :282)

“touch that works is the kind affected by Franklin Roosevelt, a style that said the president shared values and goals with the common people even while he remained a patrician at heart. He never pretended to erase his distance from the crowd.” ( :283)

“Columbus wanted a series of rights: the title Grand Admiral of the Oceanic Sea; the office of viceroy over any lands he found; and 10 percent of the future commerce with such lands. All of these rights were to be hereditary and for all time. Columbus made these demands even though he had previously been a mere merchant, he knew almost nothing about navigation, he could not work a quadrant, and he had never led a group of men. In short he had absolutely no qualifications for the journey he proposed. Furthermore, his petition included no details as to how he would accomplish his plans, just vague promises.” ( :283)

“By asking for the moon, he had instantly raised his own status, for the king assumed that unless a man who set such a high” ( :283)

“price on himself were mad, which Columbus did not appear to be, he must somehow be worth it.” ( :284)

“The only one she denied—and only in the contract’s fine print—was the 10 percent of all revenues from any lands discovered: an absurd demand, since he wanted no time limit on it. (Had the clause been left in, it would eventually have made Columbus and his heirs the wealthiest family on the planet. Columbus never read the fine print.)” ( :285)

“It is within your power to set your own price. How you carry yourself reflects what you think of yourself. If you ask for little, shuffle your feet and lower your head, people will assume this reflects your character. But this behavior is not you—it is only how you have chosen to present yourself to other people.” ( :285)

“This generally carries over into our first forays into society, as we begin our careers. But as we grow older the rebuffs and failures we experience set up boundaries that only get firmer with time. Coming to expect less from the world, we accept limitations that are really self-imposed. We start to bow and scrape and apologize for even the simplest of requests. The solution to such a shrinking of horizons is to deliberately force ourselves in the opposite direction—to downplay the failures and ignore the limitations, to make ourselves demand and expect as much as the child.” ( :286)

“People who wear crowns seem to feel no inner sense of the limits to what they can ask for or what they can accomplish. This too radiates outward. Limits and boundaries disappear. Use the Strategy of the Crown and you will be surprised how often it bears fruit.” ( :286)

“Dignity, in fact, is invariably the mask to assume under difficult circumstances: It is as if nothing can affect you, and you have all the time in the world to respond. This is an extremely powerful pose.” ( :286)

“First, the Columbus Strategy: Always make a bold demand. Set your price high and do not waver. Second, in a dignified way, go after the highest person in the building. This immediately puts you on the same plane as the chief executive you are attacking. It is the David and Goliath Strategy: By choosing a great opponent, you create the appearance of greatness” ( :287)

“Third, give a gift of some sort to those above you. This is the strategy of those who have a patron: By giving your patron a gift, you are essentially saying that the two of you are equal. It is the old con game of giving so that you can take.” ( :287)


LAW 35


“When Fouché arrived in Paris to take his seat at the convention, a violent rift had broken out between the moderates and the radical Jacobins. Fouché sensed that in the long run neither side would emerge victorious. Power rarely ends up in the hands of those who start a revolution, or even of those who further it; power sticks to those who bring it to a conclusion. That was the side Fouche wanted to be on.” ( :290)

“he played his most unexpected move: Having led the conspiracy against Robespierre, he was expected to sit with the moderates, but lo and behold, he once again changed sides, joining the radical Jacobins. For perhaps the first time in his life he aligned himself with the minority. Clearly he sensed a reaction stirring: He knew that the moderate faction that had executed Robespierre, and was now about to take power, would initiate a new round of the Terror, this time against the radicals. In siding with the Jacobins, then, Fouché was sitting with the martyrs of the days to come—the people who would be considered blameless in the troubles that were on their way.” ( :291)

“One of the first social trends he detected, in fact, came in the person of Napoleon, a brash young general whose destiny he right away saw was entwined with the future of France. When Napoleon unleashed a coup d’etat, on November 9, 1799, Fouche pretended to be asleep. Indeed he slept the whole day. For this indirect assistance—it might have been thought his job, after all, to prevent a military coup—Napoleon kept him on as minister of police in the new regime.” ( :291)

“Although the conspiracy failed—Talleyrand was fired; Fouché stayed, but was kept on a tight leash” ( :291)

“Napoleon greeted his former minister of police and gladly restored him to his old post. During the 100 days that Napoleon remained in power, until Waterloo, it was essentially Fouché who governed France. After Napoleon fell, Louis XVIII returned to the throne, and like a cat with nine lives, Fouche stayed on to serve in yet another government—by then his power and influence had grown so great that not even the king dared challenge him.” ( :292)

“Space we can recover, time never. Napoleon Bonaparte, 1769-1821” ( :293)

“The sultan [of Persia] had sentenced two men to death. One of them, knowing how much the sultan loved his stallion, offered to teach the horse to fly within a year in return for his life. The sultan, fancying himself as the rider of the only flying horse in the world, agreed. The other prisoner looked at his friend in disbelief “You know horses don’t fly. What made you come up with a crazv idea like that? You’re only postponing the inevitable.” “Not so, ” said the (first prisoner]. “I have actuallv given myself four chances for freedom. First, the sultan might die during the year. Second, I might die. Third, the horse might die. And fourth … I might teach the horse to fly!”” ( :293)

“You do not deliberately slow time down to live longer, or to take more pleasure in the moment, but the better to play the game of power.” ( :294)

“The great nineteenth-century magician Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin took explicit notice of this effect: “The more slowly a story is told,” he said, “the shorter it seems.” Going slower also makes what you are doing more interesting—the audience yields to your pace, becomes entranced. It is a state in which time whizzes delightfully by. You must practice such illusions, which share in the hypnotist’s power to alter perceptions of time.” ( :296)


LAW 36


“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.” ( :298)

“Once when G. K. Chesterton’s economic views were abused in print by George Bernard Shaw, his friends waited in vain for him to reply. Historian Hilaire Belloc reproached him. “My dear Belloc,” Chesterton said, “I have answered him. To a man of Shaw’s wit, silence is the one unbearable repartee. THE LITTLE, BROWN BOOK OF ANECDOTES, CLIFTON FADIMAN, ED., 1985” ( :299)

“As a minor annoyance became an international embarrassment, and the enraged Americans dispatched more troops, the imbalance between the size of the pursuer and the size of the pursued—who still managed to stay free—made the affair a joke.” ( :300)

“Remember: You choose to let things bother you. You can just as easily choose not to notice the irritating offender, to consider the matter trivial and unworthy of your interest. That is the powerful move.” ( :300)

“Just think—it cost your government $130 million to try to get me. I took them over rough, hilly country. Sometimes for fifty miles at a stretch they had no water. They had nothing but the sun and mosquitoes…. And nothing was gained. Pancho Villa, 1878-1923” ( :301)

“He had read in the Bible the passage, “And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be” ( :301)

“He had read in the Bible the passage, “And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.”” ( :301)

“And in this view it is advisable to let everyone of your acquaintance—whether man or woman— feel now and then that you could very well dispense with their company. This will consolidate friendship.” ( :302)

“to disregard is to win regard. But if we really think very highly of a person, we should conceal it from him like a crime. This is not a very gratifying thing to do, but it is right. Why, a dog will not bear being treated too kindly, let alone a man! ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER, 1788-1860” ( :302)

“MAN: Kick him—he’ll forgive you. Flatter him—he may or may not see through you. But ignore him and he’ll hate you. Idries Shah, Caravan of Dreams, 1968” ( :303)

“Many things which seemed important [at the time] turn out to be of no account when they are ignored; and others, which seem trifling, appear formidable when you pay attention to them.” ( :303)

“Desire often creates paradoxical effects: The more you want something, the more you chase after it, the more it eludes you. The more interest you show, the more you repel the object of your desire. This is because your interest is too strong—it makes people awkward, even fearful. Uncontrollable desire makes you seem weak, unworthy, pathetic.” ( :303)

“Critics railed at his insensitivity—spending taxpayers’ money on a dog while so many Americans were still in poverty. But Roosevelt had a response: How dare his critics attack a defenseless little dog? His speech in defense of Fala was one of the most popular he ever gave. In this case, the weak party involved was the president’s dog and the attack backfired—in the long run, it only made the president more sympathetic, since many people will naturally side with the “underdog,” just as the American public came to sympathize with the wily but outnumbered Pancho Villa.” ( :304)

“First there is the sour-grapes approach. If there is something you want but that you realize you cannot have, the worst thing you can do is draw attention to your disappointment by complaining about it.” ( :304)

“Crying “sour grapes” is sometimes seen as a reflection of the weak; it is actually the tactic of the powerful.” ( :304)

“But see! our eccentric friend suddenly turns round, and walks away from it. And presently he looks behind him; now the shadow runs after him. Ladies fair, I have often observed… that Fortune treats us in a similar way. One man tries with all his might to seize the goddess, and only loses his time and his trouble. Another seems, to all appearance, to be running out of her sight; but, no: she herself takes a pleasure in pursuing him. FABLES, IVAN KRILOFF, 1768-1844” ( :304)

“Among equals this tactic might backfire: Your indifference could make you seem callous. But with a master, if you act quickly and without great fuss, it can work to great effect: You bypass his angry response, save him the time and energy he would waste by brooding over it, and allow him the opportunity to display his own lack of pettiness publicly.” ( :305)

“He announced that he was indeed the son of a shoemaker, but this only proved his greatness, since he had risen from the lowest stratum of society to its very pinnacle. From then on he never mentioned his previous lie, trumpeting instead his new position on the matter of his ancestry.” ( :305)

“Remember: The powerful responses to niggling, petty annoyances and irritations are contempt and disdain.” ( :305)


LAW 37


“He recognized that people do not always want words, or rational explanations, or demonstrations of the powers of science; they want an immediate appeal to their emotions.” ( :308)

“The words people use to persuade us virtually invite us to reflect on them with words of our own; we mull them over, and often end up believing the opposite of what they say. (That is part of our perverse nature.) It also happens that words offend us, stirring up associations unintended by the speaker.” ( :311)

“Understand: Words put you on the defensive. If you have to explain yourself your power is already in question.” ( :311)

“Words stir up arguments and divisions; images bring people together. They are the quintessential instruments of power.” ( :311)

“whether it is visual (the statue of Diana) or a verbal description of something visual (the words “the Sun King”).” ( :311)

“As Gracián said, “The truth is generally seen, rarely heard.”” ( :312)

“The Roman emperor Constantine worshipped the sun as a god for most of his life; one day, though, he looked up at the sun, and saw a cross superimposed on it. The vision of the cross over the sun proved to him the ascendancy of the new religion, and he converted not just himself but the whole Roman Empire to Christianity soon thereafter. All the preaching and proselytizing in the world could not have been as powerful. Find and associate yourself with the images and symbols that will communicate in this immediate way today, and you will have untold power.” ( :312)

“Near the end of World War II, orders came down from General Eisenhower that American troops were to lead the way into Paris after its liberation from the Nazis. The French general Charles de Gaulle, however, realized that this sequence would imply that the Americans now commanded the fate of France. Through much manipulation, de Gaulle made certain that he and the French Second Armored Division would appear at the head of the liberating force. The strategy worked: After he had successfully pulled off this stunt, the Allies started treating him as the new leader of an independent France. De Gaulle knew that a leader has to locate himself literally at the head of his troops. This visual association is crucial to the emotional response that he needs to elicit.” ( :312)

“Use the power of symbols as a way to rally, animate, and unite your troops or team. During the rebellion against the French crown in 1648, those loyal to the king disparaged the rebels by comparing them to the slingshots (in French, frondes) that little boys use to frighten big boys. Cardinal de Retz decided to turn this disparaging term into the rebels’ symbol: The uprising was now known as the Fronde, and the rebels as frondeurs. They began to wear sashes in their hats that symbolized the slingshot, and the word became their rallying cry. Without it the rebellion might well have petered out. Always find a symbol to represent your cause—the more emotional associations, the better.” ( :313)


LAW 38


“Share your originality only with tolerant friends and those who are sure to appreciate your uniqueness.” ( :315)

“Thought is free; it cannot and should not be coerced; retire into the sanctuary of your silence and if you sometimes allow yourself to break it, do so under the aegis of a discreet few.” ( :315)

“The Spartans declared him a public enemy and sent a ship to capture him. Pausanias surrendered, certain that he could clear himself of the charges of treason. It did come out during the trial that during his reign as commander he had offended his fellow Greeks time and again, erecting monuments, for instance, in his own name, rather than in those of the cities whose troops had fought alongside him, as was the custom. Yet Pausanias proved right: Despite the evidence of his numerous contacts with the enemy, the Spartans refused to imprison a man of such noble birth, and let him go.” ( :316)

“On his way home from the temple, Pausanias got word of what had happened. He ran to another temple to hide, but the authorities followed him there and placed sentries all around. Pausanias refused to surrender. Unwilling to forcibly remove him from the sacred temple, the authorities kept him trapped inside, until he eventually died of starvation. Bene vixit, qui bene latuit—”He lives well who conceals himself well. “” ( :316)

“People who flaunt their infatuation with a different culture are expressing a disdain and contempt for their own.” ( :316)

“As Thucydides wrote of Pausanias, “By his contempt for the laws and his imitation of foreign ways he had made himself very widely suspected of being unwilling to abide by normal standards.” Cultures have norms that reflect centuries of shared beliefs and ideals. Do not expect to scoff at such things with impunity. You will be punished somehow, even if just through isolation—a position of real powerlessness.” ( :317)

“Wise men [should be] like coffers with double bottoms: Which when others look into, being opened, they see not all that they hold. SIR WALTER RALEIGH, 1554-1618” ( :317)

“Among its victims was the scientist Galileo, but an important thinker who suffered even greater persecution was the Dominican monk and philosopher Tommaso” ( :317)

“Campanella” ( :318)

“He was subjected to the infamous la veglia, a torture in which he was suspended by his arms in a squatting position a few inches above a seat studded with spikes. The posture was impossible to sustain, and in time the victim would end up sitting on the spikes, which would tear his flesh at the slightest contact.” ( :318)

“The Hispanic Monarchy was in fact a ploy, an attempt to show his conversion to orthodoxy in the boldest manner possible. It worked: In 1626, six years after its publication, the pope finally let Campanella out of prison.” ( :318)

“Catholics who read the book found it disturbing and ambiguous, but they could not claim it was heretical, or that Campanella should be returned to prison. His defense of Catholicism, after all, used arguments they had used themselves. Yet in the years to come, Atheism Conquered became a bible for atheists, Machiavellians and libertines who used the arguments Campanella had put in their mouths to defend their dangerous ideas” ( :318)

“First he feigned madness— the medieval equivalent of disavowing responsibility for one’s actions, like blaming one’s parents today.” ( :319)

“Finally, and most brilliantly of all, he disguised his ideas while insinuating them at the same time.” ( :319)

“You pretend to disagree with dangerous ideas, but in the course of your disagreement you give those ideas expression and exposure. You seem to conform to the prevailing orthodoxy, but those who know will understand the irony involved. You are protected.” ( :319)

“As Campanella was forced to realize, however, there is no point in making a display of your dangerous ideas if they only bring you suffering and persecution” ( :319)

“Meanwhile find a way to express your ideas subtly for those who understand you. Laying your pearls before swine will only bring you trouble.” ( :319)

“If you feel irritated by the absurd remarks of two people whose conversation you happen to overhear, you should imagine that you are listening to the dialogue of two fools in a comedy. Probatum est.” ( :319)

“For a long time I have not said what I believed, nor do I ever believe what I say, and if indeed sometimes I do happen to tell the truth, I hide it among so many lies that it is hard to find. Niccolò Machiavelli, in a letter to Francesco Gnicciardini, May 17, 1521” ( :319)

“superiority of their values and beliefs. In the end, though, their arguments convince only a few and offend a great deal more.” ( :319)

“Wise and clever people learn early on that they can display conventional behavior and mouth conventional ideas without having to believe in them.” ( :320)

“The power these people gain from blending in is that of being left alone to have the thoughts they want to have, and to express them to the people they want to express them to, without suffering isolation or ostracism.” ( :320)

“In the late fourteenth century, the Spanish began a massive persecution of the Jews, murdering thousands and driving others out of the country. Those who remained in Spain were forced to convert. Yet over the next three hundred years, the Spanish noticed a phenomenon that disturbed them: Many of the converts lived their outward lives as Catholics, yet somehow managed to retain their Jewish beliefs, practicing the religion in private. Many of these so-called Marranos (originally a derogatory term, being the Spanish for “pig”) attained high levels of government office, married into the nobility, and gave every appearance of Christian piety, only to be discovered late in life as practicing Jews. (The Spanish Inquisition was specifically commissioned to ferret them out.) Over the years they mastered the art of dissimulation, displaying crucifixes liberally, giving generous gifts to churches, even occasionally making anti-Semitic remarks—and all the while maintaining their inner freedom and beliefs.” ( :320)

“”Look around you,” said the citizen. “This is the largest market in the world.” “Oh surely not,” said the traveller. “Well, perhaps not the largest,” said the citizen, “but much the best.” “You are certainly wrong there,” said the traveller. “I can tell you….” They buried the stranger in the dusk. FABLES, ROBERT Louis STEVENSON, 1850-1894″ ( :320)

“If Machiavelli had had a prince for disciple, the first thing he would have recommended him to do would have been to write a book against Machiavellism. VOLTAIRE, 1694-1778” ( :320)

“Jonas Salk, for instance, thought science had gotten past politics and protocol. And so, in his search for a polio vaccine, he broke all the rules—going public with a discovery before showing it to the scientific community, taking credit for the vaccine without acknowledging the scientists who had paved the way, making himself a star.” ( :320)

“Bertolt Brecht underwent a modem form of Inquisition—the House Un-American Activities Committee—and approached it with considerable canniness.” ( :320)

“Brecht then moved to East Germany, where he encountered a different kind of Inquisition. Here the Communists were in power, and they criticized his plays as decadent and pessimistic. He did not argue with them, but made small changes in the performance scripts to shut them up. Meanwhile he managed to preserve the published texts as written.” ( :321)

“Leaders like Julius Caesar and Franklin D. Roosevelt have overcome their natural aristocratic stance to cultivate a familiarity with the common man. They have expressed this familiarity in little gestures, often symbolic, to show the people that their leaders share popular values, despite their different status.” ( :321)

“People will swallow the bait because it flatters them to believe that you share their ideas.” ( :321)

“Of course you have values—the values you share with them, while in their company.” ( :321)

“Stay with the herd—there is safety in numbers. Keep your differences in your thoughts and not in your fleece.” ( :321)

“Oscar Wilde, for example, achieved considerable social power on this foundation: He made it clear that he disdained the usual ways of doing things, and when he gave public readings his audiences not only expected him to insult them but welcomed it. We notice, however, that his eccentric role eventually destroyed him. Even had he come to a better end, remember that he possessed an unusual genius: Without his gift to amuse and delight, his barbs would simply have offended people.” ( :322)


LAW 39


“Talleyrand leaned on the mantelpiece, looking completely indifferent. Facing Talleyrand directly, Napoleon announced, “For these ministers, treason has begun when they permit themselves to doubt.” At the word “treason” the ruler expected his minister to be afraid. But Talleyrand only smiled, calm and bored.” ( :324)

“Why didn’t I have you hanged from the gates of the Tuileries? But there is still time for that.” Yelling, almost out of breath, his face red, his eyes bulging, he went on, “You, by the way, are nothing but shit in a silk stocking…. What about your wife? You never told me that San Carlos was your wife’s lover?” “Indeed, sire, it did not occur to me that this information had any bearing on Your Majesty’s glory or my own,” said Talleyrand calmly, completely unflustered. After a few more insults, Napoleon walked away. Talleyrand slowly crossed the room, moving with his characteristic limp. As an attendant helped him with his cloak, he turned to his fellow ministers (all afraid they would never see him again), and said, “What a pity, gentlemen, that so great a man should have such bad manners.”” ( :324)

“A feeling spread that he was on the way down. As Talleyrand later said, “This is the beginning of the end.”” ( :324)

“This is the problem with the angry response. At first it may strike fear and terror, but only in some, and as the days pass and the storm clears, other responses emerge—embarrassment and uneasiness about the shouter’s capacity for going out of control, and resentment of what has been said.” ( :325)

“To show your frustration is to show that you have lost your power to shape events; it is the helpless action of the child who resorts to a hysterical fit to get his way. The powerful never reveal this kind of weakness.” ( :325)

“Remember: Tantrums neither intimidate nor inspire loyalty. They only create doubts and uneasiness about your power. Exposing your weakness, these stormy eruptions often herald a fall.” ( :325)

“Gugsa’s army swelled, and some of the tribes from which its soldiers came secretly agreed to fight Selassie. In March of 1930 an enormous force of 35,000 men began to march, not on the Azebu Gallas but south, toward the capital of Addis Ababa.” ( :326)

“He did not see the trap that had been laid for him. Before Selassie had ordered Gugsa to fight the Azebu Gallas, he had secured the support of the Ethiopian church. And before the revolt got underway, he had bribed several of Gugsa’s key allies not to show up for battle. As the rebel army marched south, airplanes flew overhead dropping leaflets announcing that the highest church officials had recognized Selassie as the true Christian leader of Ethiopia, and that they had excommunicated Gugsa for fomenting a civil war.” ( :326)

“This is the essence of the Law: When the waters are still, your opponents have the time and space to plot actions that they will initiate and control. So stir the waters, force the fish to the surface, get them to act before they are ready, steal the initiative.” ( :326)

“The best way to do this is to play on uncontrollable emotions—pride, vanity, love, hate.” ( :326)

“A sovereign should never launch an army out of anger, a leader should never start a war out of wrath. Sun-tzu, fourth century B.C.” ( :327)

“More comical still is their belief that their outbursts signify power. The truth is the opposite: Petulance is not power, it is a sign of helplessness.” ( :327)

“The answer, however, is not to repress our angry or emotional responses. For repression drains us of energy and pushes us into strange behavior. Instead we have to change our perspective: We have to realize that nothing in the social realm, and in the game of power, is personal.” ( :327)

“If a person explodes with anger at you (and it seems out of proportion to what you did to them), you must remind yourself that it is not exclusively directed at you—do not be so vain.” ( :327)

“Ts’ao Ts’ao discovered documents showing that certain of his generals had conspired with the enemy, and urged him to arrest and execute them. Instead he ordered the documents burned and the matter forgotten. At this critical moment in the battle, to get upset or demand justice would have reverberated against him: An angry action would have called attention to the generals’ disloyalty, which would have harmed the troops’ morale. Justice could wait—he would deal with the generals in time. Ts’ao Ts’ao kept his head and made the right decision.” ( :328)

“Anger only cuts off our options, and the powerful cannot thrive without options.” ( :328)

“Sun Pin, commander of the armies of Ch’i and loyal disciple of Sun-tzu, once led his troops against the armies of Wei, which outnumbered him two to one. “Let us light a hundred thousand fires when our army enters Wei,” suggested Sun Pin, “fifty thousand on the next day, and only thirty thousand on the third.” On the third day the Wei general exclaimed, “I knew the men of Ch’i were cowards, and after only three days more than half of them have deserted!” So, leaving behind his slow-moving heavy infantry, the general decided to seize the moment and move swiftly on the Ch’I camp with a lightly armed force. Sun Pin’s troops retreated, luring Wei’s army into a narrow pass, where they ambushed and destroyed them. With the Wei general dead and his forces decimated, Sun Pin now easily defeated the rest of his army.” ( :328)

“Nothing is as infuriating as a man who keeps his cool while others are losing theirs. If it will work to your advantage to unsettle people, affect the aristocratic, bored pose, neither mocking nor triumphant but simply indifferent. This will light their fuse.” ( :328)

“This pushed Alexander over the edge. Now it did not matter to him how long the siege lasted or how large an army it needed; he had the resources, and would do whatever it took. He remounted his assault so strenuously that he captured Tyre within days, burned it to the ground, and sold its people into slavery.” ( :329)

“Find the gap in their strength. If there is no gap—if they are impossibly strong—you have nothing to gain and everything to lose by provoking them. Choose carefully whom you bait, and never stir up the sharks” ( :329)


LAW 40


“The powerful learn early to protect their most valuable resources: independence and room to maneuver.” ( :330)

“The Bargain Demon. Powerful people judge everything by what it costs, not just in money but in time, dignity, and peace of mind. And this is exactly what Bargain Demons cannot do.” ( :331)

“The Indiscriminate Giver. Generosity has a definite function in power: It attracts people, softens them up, makes allies out of them. But it has to be used strategically, with a definite end in mind. Indiscriminate Givers, on the other hand, are generous because they want to be loved and admired by all. And their generosity is so indiscriminate and needy that it may not have the desired effect: If they give to one and all, why should the recipient feel special?” ( :332)

“But a neighbor who saw him in this extravagant grief, and learned the cause of it, said: “Fret thyself no longer, but take a stone and put it in the same place, and think that it is your lump of gold; for, as you never meant to use it. the one will do you as much good as the other.” The worth of money is not in its possession, but in its use.” ( :332)

“For over a year and a half they had marched in an enormous circle, two thousand miles by foot. The vast sums of money invested in the expedition had yielded nothing—no sign of El Dorado and no sign of gold.” ( :333)

“There is a popular saying in Japan that goes “Tada yori takai mono wa nai,” meaning: “Nothing is more costly than something given free of charge.” THE UNSPOKEN WAY, MICHIHIRO MATSUMOTO, 1988″ ( :333)

“Yusuf Ibn Jafar el-Amudi used to take sums of money, sometimes very large ones, from those who came to study with him. A distinguished legalist visiting him once said: “I am enchanted and impressed by your teachings, and I am sure that you are directing your disciples in a proper manner. But it is not in accordance with tradition to take money for knowledge. Besides, the action is open to misinterpretation.” El-Amudi said: “I have never sold any knowledge. There is no Imoney on earth sufficient to pay for it. As for misinterpretation, the abstaining from taking money will not prevent it, for it will find some other object. Rather should you know that a man who takes money may be greedy for money, or he may not. But a man who takes nothing at all is under the gravest suspicion of robbing the disciple of his soul. People who say, ‘I take nothing,’ may be found to take away the volition of their victim.” THE DERMIS PROBE, IDRIES SHAH, 1970″ ( :333)

“European wars. By the end of the seventeenth century, the entire country had shrunk by more than half of its population; the city of Madrid had gone from a population of 400,000 to 150,000. With diminishing returns from its efforts over so many years, Spain fell into a decline from which it never recovered.” ( :334)

“In this delusion the greedy neglect everything power really depends on: self-control, the goodwill of others, and so on.” ( :334)

“With one exception—death—no lasting change in fortune comes quickly. Sudden wealth rarely lasts, for it is built on nothing solid.” ( :334)

“After Marlborough’s death, it became clear that he had a vast estate, worth over £2 million—more than enough to pay for finishing the palace. But the duchess would not relent: She held back Vanbrugh’s wages as well as the workmen’s, and finally had the architect dismissed. The man who took his place finished Blenheim in a few years, following Vanbrugh’s designs to the letter. Vanbrugh died in 1726, locked out of the palace by the duchess, unable to set foot in his greatest creation. Foreshadowing the romantic movement, Blenheim had started a whole new trend in architecture, but had given its creator a twenty-year nightmare.” ( :335)

“Vanbrugh is recognized as a genius while the duchess is forever remembered for her consummate cheapness.” ( :335)

“Pietro Aretino, son of a lowly shoemaker, had catapulted himself into fame as a writer of biting” ( :336)

“satires.” ( :337)

“Within a few years he made himself a celebrity; no visiting dignitary would think of leaving Venice without paying him a call. His generosity had cost him most of his savings, but had bought him influence and a good name—a cornerstone in the foundation of power.” ( :337)

“Aretino, however, wanted power, not a measly wage. He might dedicate a poem to the marquis, but he would offer it to him as a gift, implying by doing so that he was not a hired hack looking for a stipend but that he and the marquis were equals” ( :337)

“Aretino understood two fundamental properties of money: First, that it has to circulate to bring power. What money should buy is not lifeless objects but power over people. By keeping money in constant circulation, Aretino bought an ever-expanding circle of influence that in the end more than compensated him for his expenses.” ( :338)

“Second, Aretino understood the key property of the gift. To give a gift is to imply that you and the recipient are equals at the very least, or that you are the recipient’s superior. A gift also involves an indebtedness or obligation; when friends, for instance, offer you something for free, you can be sure they expect something in return, and that to get it they are making you feel indebted.” ( :338)

“Rothschild may have won social acceptance by spending money, but the support base he gained was one that money alone could not buy. To secure his fortune he had to “waste” it. That is strategic generosity in a nutshell—the ability to be flexible with your wealth, putting it to work, not to buy objects, but to win people’s hearts.” ( :339)

“”you are the most generous of men; for while I was still a person of no power or consequence you gave me a present—small indeed, but deserving then as much gratitude from me as would the most splendid of gifts today. I will give you in return more silver and gold than you can count, that you may never regret that you once did a favor to Darius the son of Hystaspes. “” ( :340)

“The recipients of gifts, financial or otherwise, are suddenly as vulnerable as children, especially when the gift comes from someone in authority. They cannot help opening up; their will is loosened, as Louis loosened the soil.” ( :341)

“Louis understood that there is a deep-rooted emotional element in our attitude to money, an element going back to childhood. When we are children, all kinds of complicated feelings about our parents center around gifts; we see the giving of a gift as a sign of love and approval. And that emotional element never goes away. The recipients of gifts, financial or otherwise, are suddenly as vulnerable as children, especially when the gift comes from someone in authority. They cannot help opening up; their will is loosened, as Louis loosened the soil.” ( :341)

“Money is never spent to so much advantage as when vou have been cheated out of it; for at one stroke you have purchased prudence.” ( :341)

“ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER, 1788-1860” ( :342)

“Fumai examined it. “As a piece,” he said, “it is not up to much, but a Tea Master prizes sentiment and association more than intrinsic value.” He bought the cup for a high sum. A glued-together work of less than ordinary craftsmanship had become one of the most famous objects in Japan.” ( :342)

“When you insist on paying less, you may save your five ryo, but the insult you cause and the cheap impression you create will cost you in reputation, which is the thing the powerful prize above all. Learn to pay the full price—it will save you a lot in the end.” ( :342)

“Authority: The great man who is a miser is a great fool, and a man in high places can have no vice so harmful as avarice.” ( :344)

“Whoever wants to have friends must not love his possessions but must acquire friends by means of fair gifts; for in the same way that the lodestone subtly draws iron to itself, so the gold and silver that a man gives attract the hearts of men. (The Romance of the Rose, Guillaume de Lorris, c. 1200-1238)” ( :344)

“The powerful never forget that what is offered for free is inevitably a trick. Friends who offer favors without asking for payment will later want something far dearer than the money you would have paid them. The bargain has hidden problems, both material and psychological. Learn to pay, then, and to pay well.” ( :344)

“When people learn—as I doubt they will—that they can’t get something for nothing, crime will diminish and we shall all live in greater harmony.”” ( :344)

“The lesson is simple: Bait your deceptions with the possibility of easy money. People are essentially lazy, and want wealth to fall in their lap rather than to work for it. For a small sum, sell them advice on how to make millions (P. T. Barnum did this later in life), and that small sum will become a fortune when multiplied by thousands of suckers.” ( :344)

“And as the Yellow Kid said, half the fun is teaching a moral lesson: Greed does not pay.” ( :344)


LAW 41


“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.” ( :345)

“Horace yielded epic poetry to Virgil, and Martial the lyric to Horace. Terence opted for comedy, Persius for satire, each hoping to be first in his genre. Bold fancy never succumbed to facile imitation.” ( :345)

“When Louis XIV died, in 1715, after a glorious fifty-five-year reign, all eyes focused on his greatgrandson and chosen successor, the future Louis XV. Would the boy, only five at the time, prove as great a leader as the Sun King?” ( :345)

“When Louis XIV died, in 1715, after a glorious fifty-five-year reign, all eyes focused on his greatgrandson and chosen successor, the future Louis XV. Would the boy, only five at the time, prove as great a leader as the Sun King? Louis XIV had transformed a country on the verge of civil war into the preeminent power in Europe.” ( :345)

“All of Europe was aghast when du Barry, the daughter of a baker, managed to arrange the firing of Étienne de Choiseul, the foreign minister and France’s most able diplomat.” ( :346)

“The motto that became attached to Louis’s reign was “Après moi, le déluge”—”After me the flood,” or, Let France rot after I am gone. And indeed when Louis did go, in 1774, worn out by debauchery, his country and his own finances were in horrible disarray. His grandson Louis XVI inherited a realm in desperate need of reform and a strong leader. But Louis XVI was even weaker than his grandfather, and could only watch as the country descended into revolution.” ( :346)

“From a country that had descended into civil war in the late 1640s, Louis XIV forged the mightiest realm in Europe.” ( :347)

“A cook once made a mistake in preparing a dish and committed suicide rather than face the king’s wrath. Louis XIV had many mistresses, but their power ended in the bedroom.” ( :347)

“He made Versailles the centerpiece of his reign, a place that all the powerful of Europe envied and visited with a sense of awe. In essence, Louis took a great void—the decaying monarchy of France—and filled it with his own symbols and radiant power.” ( :347)

“The pampered, indulged son almost always squanders the inheritance, for he does not start with the father’s need to fill a void.” ( :347)

“Machiavelli states, necessity is what impels men to take action, and once the necessity is gone, only rot and decay are left.” ( :347)

“However, the time came when Aristides was dead. Themistocles in exile, and Cimon frequently absent on distant campaigns. Then at last Pericles decided to attach himself to the people’s party and to take up the cause of the poor and the many instead of that of the rich and the few, in spite of the fact that this was quite contrary to his own temperament, which was thoroughly aristocratic.” ( :347)

“But when they began to make sovereignty hereditary, the children quickly degenerated from their fathers; and, so far from trying to equal their father’s virtues, they considered that a prince had nothing else to do than to excel all the rest in idleness, indulgence, and every other variety of pleasure. Niccolò Machiavelli, 1469-1527” ( :348)

“Alexander itched to show others how superior he was to his father. A Thessalian horse-dealer once brought a prize horse named Bucephalus to sell to Philip.” ( :349)

“Alexander scowled and commented, “What a horse they are losing for want of skill and spirit to manage him!” When he had said this several times, Philip had finally had enough, and challenged him to take on the horse. He called the merchant back, secretly hoping his son would have a nasty fall and learn a bitter lesson. But Alexander was the one to teach the lesson: Not only did he mount Bucephalus, he managed to ride him at full gallop, taming the horse that would later carry him all the way to India. The courtiers applauded wildly, but Philip seethed inside, seeing not a son but a rival to his power.” ( :349)

“Many had tried to untie the enormous and intricate knot, but none had succeeded. Alexander, seeing he could not possibly untie the knot with his bare hands, took out his sword and with one slash cut it in half. This symbolic gesture showed the world that he would not do as others, but would blaze his own path.” ( :349)

“Alexander represents an extremely uncommon type in history: the son of a famous and successful man” ( :349)

“who manages to surpass the father in glory and power.” ( :350)

“A desperate urge impels him to succeed—he has nothing to lose by cunning and impetuousness, and has no famous father of his own to compete against. This kind of man has reason to believe in himself—to believe that his way of doing things is the best, because, after all, it worked for him.” ( :350)

“The sons of such men tend to become cowed and cautious, terrified of losing what their fathers have gained. The son will never step out of his father’s shadow unless he adopts the ruthless strategy of Alexander: disparage the past, create your own kingdom, put the father in the shadows instead of letting him do the same to you.” ( :350)

“Be merciless with the past, then—not only with your father and his father but with your own earlier achievements. Only the weak rest on their laurels and dote on past triumphs; in the game of power there is never time to rest.” ( :350)

“It is no doubt significant that [nineteenthcentury chess champion Paul] Morphy’s soaring odyssey into the higher realms of chess began just a year after the unexpectedly sudden death of his father, which had been a great shock to him, and we may surmise that his brilliant effort of sublimation was, like Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, a reaction to this critical event….” ( :350)

“Freud has pointed out that the people who break under the strain of too great success do so because they can endure it only in imagination, not in reality. To castrate the father in a dream is a very different matter from doing it in reality. The real situation provokes the unconscious guilt in its full force, and the penalty may be mental collapse. THE PROBLEM OF PAUL MORPHY, ERNEST JONES, 1951” ( :351)

“The ambivalent, hostile attitude towards the king or father figure also finds expression in legends of heroes who do not know their father. Moses, the archetypal man of power, was found abandoned among the bulrushes and never knew his parents; without a father to compete with him or limit him, he could attain the heights of power. Hercules had no earthly father-he was the son of the god Zeus. Later in his life Alexander the Great spread the story that the god Jupiter Ammon had sired him, not Philip of Macedon. Legends and rituals like these eliminate the human father because he symbolizes the destructive power of the past.” ( :351)

“The past prevents the young hero from creating his own world—he must do as his father did, even after that father is dead or powerless.” ( :351)

“John F. Kennedy knew the dangers of getting lost in the past; he radically distinguished his presidency from that of his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and also from the preceding decade, the 1950s, which Eisenhower personified. Kennedy, for instance, would not play the dull and fatherly game of golf—a symbol of retirement and privilege, and Eisenhower’s passion. Instead he played football on the White House lawn.” ( :351)

“Kennedy had discovered an old truth: The young are easily set against the old, since they yearn to make their own place in the world and resent the shadow of their fathers.” ( :352)

“The problem with the overbearing predecessor is that he fills the vistas before you with symbols of the past. You have no room to create your own name. To deal with this situation you need to hunt out the vacuums—those areas in culture that have been left vacant and in which you can become the first and principal figure to shine.” ( :352)

“that was missing in Athenian politics. Most of the great politicians of his time had allied themselves with the aristocracy; indeed Pericles himself had aristocratic tendencies. Yet he decided to throw in his hat with the city’s democratic elements. The choice had nothing to do with his personal beliefs, but it launched him on a brilliant career.” ( :352)

“The superstitious belief that if the person before you succeeded by doing A, B, and C, you can re-create their success by doing the same thing. This cookie-cutter approach will seduce the uncreative, for it is easy, and appeals to their timidity and their laziness. But circumstances never repeat themselves exactly.” ( :352)

“When General Douglas MacArthur assumed command of American forces in the Philippines during” ( :352)

“World War II, an assistant handed him a book containing the various precedents established by the commanders before him, the methods that had been successful for them. MacArthur asked the assistant how many copies there were of this book. Six, the assistant answered. “Well,” the general replied, “you get all those six copies together and burn them—every one of them. I’ll not be bound by precedents. Any time a problem comes up, I’ll make the decision at once—immediately.” Adopt this ruthless strategy toward the past: Burn all the books, and train yourself to react to circumstances as they happen.” ( :353)

“As a young man, Mao Tse-tung disliked his father and in the struggle against him found his own identity and a new set of values. But as he aged, his father’s ways crept back in. Mao’s father had valued manual work over intellect; Mao had scoffed at this as a young man, but as he grew older he unconsciously returned to his father’s views and echoed such outdated ideas by forcing a whole generation of Chinese intellectuals into manual labor, a nightmarish mistake that cost his regime dearly. Remember: You are your own father. Do not let yourself spend years creating yourself only to let your guard down and allow the ghost of the past—father, habit, history—to sneak back in.” ( :353)

“a life of clawing and scratching, but it was a good life because it was the sort of life for which the human organism is created. I was not aware of how much vital energy had gone into this struggle until the struggle was removed. This was security at last.” ( :353)

“Fyodor Dostoyevsky, similarly, whenever he wrote a successful novel, would feel that the financial security he had gained made the act of creation unnecessary. He would take his entire savings to the casino and would not leave until he had gambled away his last penny. Once reduced to poverty he could write again.” ( :353)

“It is not necessary to go to such extremes, but you must be prepared to return to square one psychologically rather than growing fat and lazy with prosperity.” ( :353)

“Powerful people recognize these traps; like Alexander the Great, they struggle constantly to re-create themselves. The father must not be allowed to return; he must be slain at every step of the way.” ( :353)

“Making a display of doing things differently from your predecessor can make you seem childish and in fact out of control, unless your actions have a logic of their own.” ( :354)

“Finally, it is often wise to keep an eye on the young, your future rivals in power. Just as you try to rid yourself of your father, they will soon play the same trick on you, denigrating everything you have accomplished. Just as you rise by rebelling against the past, keep an eye on those rising from below, and never give them the chance to do the same to you.” ( :354)


LAW 42


“six thousand ballots, that person would instantly be exiled. If no one received six thousand votes, the person with the most ostraka recording his name would suffer the ten-year “ostracism.” This ritual expulsion became a kind of festival—what a joy to be able to banish those irritating, anxiety-inducing individuals who wanted to rise above the group they should have served.” ( :355)

“After Aristides’ ostracism, the great general Themistocles emerged as the city’s premier leader. But his many honors and victories went to his head, and he too became arrogant and overbearing, constantly reminding the Athenians of his triumphs in battle, the temples he had built, the dangers he had fended off. He seemed to be saying that without him the city would come to ruin. And so, in 472 B.C., Themistocles’ name was filled in on the ostraka and the city was rid of his poisonous presence.” ( :356)

“Perhaps he had learned a lesson as a child from his favorite tutor, the incomparable Damon, who excelled above all other Athenians in his intelligence, his musical skills, and his rhetorical abilities. It was Damon who had trained Pericles in the arts of ruling. But he, too, suffered ostracism, for his superior airs and his insulting manner toward the commoners stirred up too much resentment.” ( :356)

“Earlier sufferers of ostracism had been formidable, powerful men. Hyperbolus, however, was a low buffoon, and with his banishment the Athenians felt that ostracism had been degraded. And so they ended the practice that for nearly a hundred years had been one of the keys to keeping the peace within Athens.” ( :357)

“The ancient Athenians had social instincts unknown today—the passage of centuries has blunted them. Citizens in the true sense of the word, the Athenians sensed the dangers posed by asocial behavior, and saw how such behavior often disguises itself in other forms: the holier-than-thou attitude that silently seeks to impose its standards on others; overweening ambition at the expense of the common good; the flaunting of superiority; quiet scheming; terminal obnoxiousness. Some of these behaviors would eat away at the city’s cohesion by creating factions and sowing dissension, others would ruin the democratic spirit by making the common citizen feel inferior and envious. The Athenians did not try to reeducate people who acted in these ways, or to absorb them somehow into the group, or to impose a violent punishment that would only create other problems. The solution was quick and effective: Get rid of them.” ( :357)

“Act before it becomes impossible to disentangle one strand of misery from another, or to see how the whole thing started. First, recognize troublemakers by their overbearing presence, or by their complaining nature. Once you spot them do not try to reform them or appease them—that will only make things worse. Do not attack them, whether directly or indirectly, for they are poisonous in nature and will work underground to destroy you. Do as the Athenians did: Banish them before it is too late.” ( :357)

“Let one person suffer so that the rest can live in peace. When the tree falls, the monkeys scatter. Chinese saying” ( :357)

“Once apon a time, the wolves sent an embassy to the sheep, desiring that there might be peace between them for the time to come. “Why,” said they, “should we be for ever waging this deadly strife? Those wicked dogs are the cause of all; they are incessantly barking at us, and provoking us. Send them away, and there will be no longer any obstacle to our eternal friendship and peace.” The silly sheep listened, the dogs were dismissed, and the flock, thus deprived of their best protectors, became an easy prey to their treacherous enemy.” ( :358)

“Boniface saw his chance: He would plot to help the Blacks take over the city, and Florence would be in his pocket. And as he studied the situation he began to focus on one man, Dante Alighieri, the celebrated writer, poet, and ardent supporter of the Whites. Dante had always been interested in politics. He believed passionately in the republic, and often chastised his fellow citizens for their lack of spine. He also happened to be the city’s most eloquent public speaker. In 1300, the year Boniface began plotting to take over Tuscany, Dante’s fellow citizens had voted him in to Florence’s highest elected position, making him one of the city’s six priors. During his six-month term in the post, he had stood firmly against the Blacks and against all of the pope’s attempts to sow disorder.” ( :358)

“Succumbing to his powerful presence, the Florentines listened as the pope promised to look after their interests. He then advised them to return home, leaving one of their members behind to continue the talks. Boniface signaled that the man to stay was to be Dante. He spoke with the utmost politeness, but in essence it was an order. And so Dante remained in Rome. And while he and the pope continued their dialogue, Florence” ( :358)

“fell apart. With no one to rally the Whites, and with Charles de Valois using the pope’s money to bribe and sow dissension, the Whites disintegrated, some arguing for negotiations, others switching sides. Facing an enemy now divided and unsure of itself, the Blacks easily destroyed them within weeks, exacting violent revenge on them. And once the Blacks stood firmly in power, the pope finally dismissed Dante from Rome. The Blacks ordered Dante to return home to face accusations and stand trial. When the poet refused, the Blacks condemned him to be burned to death if he ever set foot in Florence again. And so Dante began a miserable life of exile, wandering through Italy, disgraced in the city that he loved, never to return to Florence, even after his death.” ( :359)

“They made use of the ostracism to humble his great reputation and his authority, as indeed was their habit with any whose power they regarded as oppressive, or who had risen to an eminence which they considered out of keeping with the equality of a democracy. THE LIFE OF THEMISTOCLES, PLUTARCH, C. A.D. 46-120” ( :359)

“Once the poet was in Rome, the pope kept him there for as long as it took. For Boniface understood one of the principal precepts in the game of power: One resolute person, one disobedient spirit, can turn a flock of sheep into a den of lions.” ( :359)

“Find the one head that matters—the person with willpower, or smarts, or, most important of all, charisma.” ( :359)

“Whatever it costs you, lure this person away, for once he is absent his powers will lose their effect. His isolation can be physical (banishment or absence from the court), political (narrowing his base of support), or psychological (alienating him from the group through slander and insinuation). Cancer begins with a single cell; excise it before it spreads beyond cure.” ( :359)

“Over the centuries, power has gradually become more and more diffused and democratized. This has created, however, a common misperception that groups no longer have centers of power—that power is spread out and scattered among many people. Actually, however, power has changed in its numbers but not in its essence.” ( :360)

“but there remain thousands of petty tyrants ruling smaller realms, and enforcing their will through indirect power games, charisma, and so on.” ( :360)

“People will congregate around a single strong personality like planets orbiting a sun.” ( :360)

“by a few feet. Slowly the other family members would see the physically separate person as the source of their difficulty. Once you recognize who the stirrer is, pointing it out to other people will accomplish a great deal. Understanding who controls the group dynamic is a critical realization. Remember: Stirrers thrive by hiding in the group, disguising their actions among the reactions of others. Render their actions visible and they lose their power to upset.” ( :360)

“Similarly, con artists often look for ways to isolate their marks from their normal social milieux, steering them into new environments in which they are no longer comfortable. Here they feel” ( :360)

“weak, and succumb to deception more easily. Isolation, then, can prove a powerful way of bringing people under your spell to seduce or swindle them.” ( :361)

“The monk Rasputin gained his power over Czar Nicholas and Czarina Alexandra of Russia through their tremendous isolation from the people. Alexandra in particular was a foreigner, and especially alienated from everyday Russians; Rasputin used his peasant origins to insinuate himself into her good graces, for she desperately wanted to communicate with her subjects.” ( :361)

“When Hernando Cortés and Francisco Pizarro led their tiny forces against the Aztec and Incan empires, they did not make the mistake of fighting on several fronts, nor were they intimidated by the numbers arrayed against them; they captured the kings, Moctezuma and Atahualpa” ( :361)

“Authority: If you draw a bow, draw the strongest. If you use an arrow, use the longest. To shoot a rider, first shoot his horse. To catch a gang of bandits, first capture its leader. Just as a country has its border, so the killing of men has its limits. If the enemy’s attack can be stopped [with a blow to the head], why have any more dead and wounded than necessary? (Chinese poet Tu Fu, Tang dynasty, eighth century)” ( :361)


LAW 43


“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.” ( :363)

“After the meal Cyrus asked them which they preferred —yesterday’s work or today’s amusement; and they replied that it was indeed a far cry from the previous day’s misery to their present pleasures. This was the answer which Cyrus wanted; he seized upon it at once and proceeded to lay bare what he had in mind. “Men of Persia,” he said, “listen to me: obey my orders, and you will be able to enjoy a thousand pleasures as good as this without ever turning your hands to menial labor; but, if you disobey, yesterday’s task will be the pattern of innumerable others you will be forced to perform. Take my advice and win your freedom. I am the man destined to undertake your liberation, and it is my belief that you are a match for the Medes in war as in everything else. It is the truth I tell you. Do not delay, but fling off the yoke of Astyages at once.”” ( :363)

“But Marie-Antoinette did not concern herself with this. Not once throughout her reign did she read a minister’s report. Not once did she tour the provinces and rally the people to her side. Not once did she mingle among the Parisians, or receive a delegation from them. She did none of these things because as queen she felt the people owed her their affection, and she was not required to love them in return.” ( :364)

“From early on, Marie-Antoinette acquired the most dangerous of attitudes: As a young princess in Austria she was endlessly flattered and cajoled. As the future queen of the French court she was the center of everyone’s attention. She never learned to charm or please other people, to become attuned to their individual psychologies. She never had to work to get her way, to use calculation or cunning or the arts of persuasion. And like everyone who is indulged from an early age, she evolved into a monster of insensitivity.” ( :365)

“And do not imagine that she represents a bygone era, or that she is even rare. Her type is today more common than ever. Such types live in their own bubble—they seem to feel they are born kings and queens, and that attention is owed them. They do not consider anyone else’s nature, but bulldoze over people with the self-righteous arrogance of a Marie-Antoinette. Pampered and indulged as children, as adults they still believe that everything must come to them; convinced of their own charm, they make no effort to charm, seduce, or gently persuade” ( :365)

“beat Menghuo, but as soon as he headed north again to deal with Wei, Menghuo would reinvade. “It is better to win hearts,” said the wise man, “than cities; better to battle with hearts than with weapons. I hope you will succeed in winning the hearts of these people.” “You read my thoughts,” responded Chuko Liang.” ( :366)

“As Liang expected, Menghuo launched a powerful attack. But Liang laid a trap and managed to capture a large part of Menghuo’s army, including the king himself. Instead of punishing or executing his prisoners, however, he separated the soldiers from their king, had their shackles removed, regaled them with food and wine, and then addressed them. “You are all upright men,” he said. “I believe you all have parents, wives, and children waiting for you at home. They are doubtless shedding bitter tears at your fate. I am going to release you, so that you can return home to your loved ones and comfort them.” The men thanked Liang with tears in their eyes; then he sent for Menghuo. “If I release you,” asked Liang, “what will you do?” “I will pull my army together again,” answered the king, “and lead it against you to a decisive battle. But if you capture me a second time, I will bow to your superiority.” Not only did Liang order Menghuo released, he gave him a gift of a horse and saddle. When angry lieutenants wondered why he did this, Liang told them, “I can capture that man as easily as I can take something out of my pocket. I am trying to win his heart. When I do, peace will come of itself here in the south.”” ( :366)

“Over the following months Liang outwitted Menghuo again and again, capturing him a third, a fourth, and a fifth time. On each occasion Menghuo’s troops grew more dissatisfied. Liang had treated them with respect; they had lost their heart for fighting. But every time Chuko Liang asked Menghuo to yield, the great king would come up with another excuse: You tricked me, I lost through bad luck, on and on. If you capture me again, he would promise, I swear I will not betray you. And so Liang would” ( :366)

“let him go.” ( :367)

“With Menghuo at his side, Wutugu marched this mighty army against Liang, and this time the great strategist seemed frightened, leading his men in a hurried retreat. But he was merely leading Wutugu into a trap: He cornered the king’s men in a narrow valley, then lit fires set all around them. When the fires reached the soldiers Wutugu’s whole army burst into flame—the oil in their armor, of course, being highly flammable. All of them perished.” ( :367)

“Liang honored Menghuo with a great banquet, reestablished him on the throne, restored his conquered lands to his rule, then returned north with his army, leaving no occupying force. Liang never came back—he had no need to: Menghuo had become his most devoted and unshakable ally.” ( :367)

“The men who have changed the universe have never gotten there by working on leaders, but rather by moving the masses. Working on leaders is the method of intrigue and only leads to secondary results. Working on the masses, however, is the stroke of genius that changes the face of the world. NAPOLEON BONAPARTE, 1769-1821” ( :367)

“”For,” said he, “if I alone should drink, the rest will be out of heart.”” ( :367)

“choked with thirst, presently filled a helmet and offered it him…. Then he took the helmet into his hands, and looking round about, when he saw all those who were near him stretching their heads out and looking earnestly after the drink, he returned it again with thanks without tasting a drop of it. “For,” said he, “if I alone should drink, the rest will be out of heart.” The soldiers no sooner took notice of his temperance and magnanimity upon this occasion, but they one and all cried out to him to lead them forward boldly, and began whipping on their horses. For whilst they had such a king they said they defied both weariness and thirst, and looked upon themselves to be little less than immortal. THE LIFE OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT, PLUTARCH, C. A.D. 46-120″ ( :367)

“In all your encounters, take a step back—take the time to calculate and attune yourself to your targets’ emotional makeup and psychological weaknesses. Force will only strengthen their resistance. With most people the heart is the key: They are like children, ruled by their emotions. To soften them up, alternate harshness with mercy. Play on their basic fears, and also their loves—freedom, family, etc. Once you break them down, you will have a lifelong friend and fiercely loyal ally. Governments saw men only in mass; but our men, being irregulars, were not” ( :368)

“Governments saw men only in mass; but our men, being irregulars, were not formations, but individuals…. Our kingdoms lay in each man’s mind. Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T. E. Lawrence, 1888-1935” ( :368)

“When they meet someone new, rather than stepping back and probing to see what makes this person unique, they talk about themselves, eager to impose their own willpower and prejudices. They argue, boast, and make a show of their power.” ( :368)

“having your individuality ignored” ( :368)

“Be alert to both what separates them from everyone else (their individual psychology) and what they share with everyone else (their basic emotional responses).” ( :368)

“Educated and well-read himself, in” ( :368)

“his speeches he used visceral metaphors, voicing the public’s deepest anxieties and encouraging them to vent their frustrations in public meetings.” ( :369)

“would affect them on the most primitive, down-to-earth level. Do not believe that this approach works only with the illiterate and unschooled—it works on one and all.” ( :369)

“Play on contrasts like this: Push people to despair, then give them relief.” ( :369)

“When T. E. Lawrence was fighting the Turks in the deserts of the Middle East during World War I, he had an epiphany: It seemed to him that conventional warfare had lost its value. The old-fashioned soldier was lost in the enormous armies of the time, in which he was ordered about like a lifeless pawn. Lawrence wanted to turn this around. For him, every soldier’s mind was a kingdom he had to conquer. A committed, psychologically motivated soldier would fight harder and more creatively than a puppet.” ( :369)

“Instead of manipulating lifeless pawns, make those on your side convinced and excited by the cause you have enlisted them in; this will not only make your work easier but it will also give you more leeway to deceive them later on. And to accomplish this you need to deal with their individual psychologies. Never clumsily assume that the tactic that worked on one person will necessarily work on another. To find the key that will motivate them, first get them to open up. The more they talk, the more they reveal about their likes and dislikes—the handles and levers to move them with.” ( :369)

“people’s minds is by demonstrating, as simply as possible, how an action will benefit them.” ( :369)

“noble veneer to cover a blatant appeal to self-interest; the cause seduces but the self-interest secures the deal.” ( :369)

“people who are best at appealing to people’s minds are often artists, intellectuals, and those of a more poetic nature. This is because ideas are most easily communicated through metaphors and imagery.” ( :369)

“Frederick the Great had his Voltaire (until they quarreled and separated), Napoleon won over Goethe. Conversely, Napoleon III’s alienation of writers such as Victor Hugo, whom he exiled from France, contributed to his growing unpopularity and eventual downfall. It is dangerous, then, to alienate those who have powers of expression, and useful to pacify and exploit them.” ( :369)


LAW 44


“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.” ( :371)

“But the hero Perseus managed to slay Medusa by polishing his bronze shield into a mirror, then using the reflection in the mirror to guide him as he crept up and cut off her head without looking at her directly.” ( :371)

“The merchant promised he would, but in the meantime he met in the middle of the city one of his friend’s children; the child he carried home, and locked up in a room. The next day he went to his friend, who seemed to be in great affliction, which he asked him the cause of, as if he had been perfectly ignorant of what had happened. “O, my dear friend,” answered the other, “I beg you to excuse me, if you do not see me so cheerful as otherwise I would be; I have lost one of my children; I have had him cried by sound of trumpet, but I know not what is become of him.” “O!” replied the merchant, “I am grieved to hear this; for yesterday in the evening, as I parted from hence, I saw an owl in the air with a child in his claws; but whether it were yours I cannot tell.”” ( :372)

“The friend, upon this, found that the merchant was no such fool as he took him to be, begged his pardon for the cheat which he designed to have put apon him, restored him the value of his iron, and so had his son again.” ( :372)

“You look deep into the souls of other people; fathom their inmost desires, their values, their tastes, their spirit; and you reflect it back to them, making yourself into a kind of mirror image.” ( :373)

“Moral Effect is a perfect way to demonstrate your ideas through action. Quite simply, you teach others a lesson by giving them a taste of their own medicine.” ( :373)

“He kept a corps of agents to spy on all of his ministers, so that he would always have an edge on them, but no one had gotten anything on Fouché. If suspected of some misdeed, the minister would not get angry or take the accusation personally—he would submit, nod, smile, and change colors chameleonlike, adapting to the requirements of the moment. At first this had seemed somewhat pleasant and charming, but after a while it frustrated Napoleon, who felt outdone by this slippery man. At one time or another he had fired all of his most important ministers, including Talleyrand, but he never touched Fouché.” ( :374)

“The following morning Fouché visited Napoleon, and remarked, “By the way, sire, I never told you that I had a letter from Metternich a few days ago; my mind was so full of things of greater moment. Besides, his emissary omitted to give me the powder needed to make the writing legible…. Here at length is the letter.” Sure that Fouché was toying with him, Napoleon exploded, “You are a traitor, Fouché! I ought to have you hanged.” He continued to harangue Fouché, but could not fire him without proof. Fouché only expressed amazement at the emperor’s words, but inwardly he smiled, for all along he had been playing a mirroring game.” ( :375)

“The minister had survived this game by having his own spies spy on Napoleon’s spies, thus neutralizing any action Napoleon might take against him.” ( :375)

“During the French Revolution he was a radical Jacobin; after the Terror he became a moderate republican; and under Napoleon he became a committed imperialist whom Napoleon ennobled and made the duke of Otranto.” ( :375)

“The first man to fall under his spell was the philosopher Socrates. Alcibiades represented the opposite of the Socratic ideal of simplicity and uprightness: He lived lavishly and was completely unprincipled. Whenever he met Socrates, however, he mirrored the older man’s sobriety, eating simply, accompanying Socrates on long walks, and talking only of philosophy and virtue. Socrates was not completely fooled—he was not unaware of Alcibiades’ other life” ( :376)

“The first man to fall under his spell was the philosopher Socrates. Alcibiades represented the opposite of the Socratic ideal of simplicity and uprightness: He lived lavishly and was completely unprincipled. Whenever he met Socrates, however, he mirrored the older man’s sobriety, eating simply, accompanying Socrates on long walks, and talking only of philosophy and virtue. Socrates was not completely fooled—he was not unaware of Alcibiades’ other life. But that only made him vulnerable to a logic that flattered him: Only in my presence, he felt, does this man submit to a virtuous influence; only I have such power over him. This feeling intoxicated Socrates, who became Alcibiades’ fervent admirer and supporter, one day even risking his own life to rescue the young man in battle.” ( :376)

“The Spartans welcomed this great man to their side, but they knew his reputation and were wary of him. Alcibiades loved luxury; the Spartans were a warrior people who worshipped austerity, and they were afraid he would corrupt their youth. But much to their relief, the Alcibiades who arrived in Sparta was not at all what they expected: He wore his hair untrimmed (as they did), took cold baths, ate coarse bread and black broth, and wore simple clothes. To the Spartans this signified that he had come to see their way of life as superior to the Athenian; greater than they were, he had chosen to be a Spartan rather than being born one, and should thus be honored above all others.” ( :377)

“Unfortunately Alcibiades rarely knew how to rein in his charm—he managed to seduce the king of Sparta’s wife and make her pregnant. When this became public he once more had to flee for his life.” ( :377)

“Persia, where he suddenly went from Spartan simplicity to embracing the lavish Persian lifestyle down to the last detail. It was of course immensely flattering to the Persians to see a Greek of Alcibiades’ stature prefer their culture over his own, and they showered him with honors, land, and power. Once seduced by the mirror, they failed to notice that behind this shield Alcibiades was playing a double game, secretly helping the Athenians in their war with Sparta and thus reingratiat ing himself with the city to which he desperately wanted to return, and which welcomed him back with open arms in 408 B.C.” ( :377)

“The secret to gaining ascendancy over large numbers, he came to believe, was not to impose his colors but to absorb the colors of those around him, like a chameleon. Once people fell for the trick, the deceptions he went on to practice would be invisible to them.” ( :377)

“Everyone is wrapped up in their own narcissistic shell. When you try to impose your own ego on them, a wall goes up, resistance is increased. By mirroring them, however, you seduce them into a kind of narcissistic rapture: They are gazing at a double of their own soul. This double is actually manufactured in its entirety by you. Once you have used the mirror to seduce them, you have great power over them.” ( :377)

“This was a seemingly impossible task for such a plain-looking girl, but Marie studied the future king closely. She noticed that her sisters’ frivolity did not please him, and she sensed that he loathed the scheming and petty politicking that went on all around him. She saw that he had a romantic nature —he read adventure novels, insisted on marching at the head of his armies, and had high ideals and a passion for glory. The court did not feed these fantasies of his; it was a banal, superficial world that bored him. The key to Louis’s heart, Marie saw, would be to construct a mirror reflecting his fantasies and his youthful yearnings for glory and romance” ( :378)

“He brought her along on his military campaigns, and made a show of stationing her where she could watch as he marched into battle. He even promised Marie that he would marry her and make her queen.” ( :378)

“While the other struggled to put his thought into words, Wittgenstein would perceive what it was and state it for him. This power of his, which sometimes seemed uncanny, was made possible, I am sure, by his own prolonged and continuous researches.” ( :379)

“The doctor should be opaque to his patients, and like a mirror, should show them nothing but what is shown to him. SIGMUND FREUD, 1856-1939” ( :379)

“Mazarin, however, would never allow the king to marry his niece, a woman who could bring France no diplomatic or royal alliances. Louis had to marry a princess of Spain or Austria. In 1658 Louis succumbed to the pressure and agreed to break off the first romantic involvement of his life. He did so with much regret, and at the end of his life he acknowledged that he never loved anyone as much as Marie Mancini.” ( :379)

“To a soul both romantic and ambitious, nothing could be more intoxicating than to have someone hold up an idealized reflection of him. In effect it was Marie Mancini who created the image of the Sun King—indeed Louis later admitted the enormous part she had played in fashioning his radiant self-image.” ( :379)

“For two long years Ivan held the mirror of Simeon up to the Russian people. The mirror said: Your whining and disobedience have made me a czar with no real power, so I will reflect back to you a czar with no real power. You have treated me disrespectfully, so I will do the same to you, making Russia the laughingstock of the world. In 1577, in the name of the Russian people, the chastised boyars once again begged Ivan to return to the throne, which he did. He lived as czar until his death, in 1584, and the conspiracies, complaining, and second-guessing disappeared along with Simeon.” ( :380)

“Understand: People are locked in their own experiences. When you whine about some insensitivity on their part, they may seem to understand, but inwardly they are untouched and even more resistant. The goal of power is always to lower people’s resistance to you. For this you need tricks, and one trick is to teach them a lesson.” ( :380)

“In one couple’s first session, the pair were discussing their eating habits, especially at dinner. The wife preferred the leisurely approach—a drink before the meal, some appetizers, and then a small main course, all at a slow, civilized pace. This frustrated the husband—he wanted to get dinner over quickly and to dig right into the main course, the bigger the better. As the conversation continued, the couple began to catch glimpses of an analogy to their problems in bed. The moment they made this connection, however, Dr. Erickson would change the subject, carefully avoiding a discussion of the real problem” ( :381)

“Dr. Erickson would always try to enter the mirror and work within it. He once treated a hospital inmate who believed he was Jesus Christ—draping sheets around his body, talking in vague parables, and bombarding staff and patients with endless Christian proselytizing. No therapy or drugs seemed to work, until one day Dr. Erickson went up to the young man and said, “I understand you have had experience as a carpenter.” Being Christ, the patient had to say that he had had such experience, and Erickson immediately put him to work building bookcases and other useful items, allowing him to wear his Jesus garb. Over the next weeks, as the patient worked on these projects, his mind became less occupied with Jesus fantasies and more focused on his labor. As the carpentry work took precedence, a psychic shift took effect: The religious fantasies remained, but faded comfortably into the background, allowing the man to function in society.” ( :381)

“You will effect a far more lasting change if, like Dr. Erickson, you construct an analogy, a symbolic mirror of the situation, and guide the other through it. As Christ himself understood, talking in parables is often the best way to teach a lesson, for it allows people to realize the truth on their own.” ( :382)

“do not live in mental hospitals), never try to push them into reality by shattering their mirrors. Instead, enter their world and operate inside it, under their rules, gently guiding them out of the hall of mirrors they have entered.” ( :382)

“Over the years Weil did the same thing with a deserted yacht club, an abandoned brokerage office, a relocated real estate office, and a completely realistic gambling club.” ( :383)

“The mirroring of reality offers immense deceptive powers. The right uniform, the perfect accent, the proper props—the deception cannot be deciphered because it is enmeshed in a simulation of reality. People have an intense desire and need to believe, and their first instinct is to trust a well-constructed facade, to mistake it for reality.” ( :384)

“Eventually Ludwig’s ministers wrote him a letter: “Your Majesty now stands at a fateful parting of the ways: you have to choose between the love and respect of your faithful people and the ‘friendship’ of Richard Wagner.” In December of 1865, Ludwig politely asked his friend to leave and never return. Wagner had inadvertently placed himself in Lola Montez’s reflection. Once there, everything he did reminded the stolid Bavarians of that dread woman, and there was nothing he could do about it.” ( :385)

“Even if the person or event has positive associations, you will suffer from not being able to live up to them, since the past generally appears greater than the present. If you ever notice people associating you with some past event or person, do everything you can to separate yourself from that memory and to shatter the reflection.” ( :385)


LAW 45


“If change is necessary, make it feel like a gentle improvement on the past.” ( :386)

“Celebrating the turn of the year is an ancient custom. The Romans celebrated the Saturnalia, the festival of Saturn, god of the harvest, between December 17 and 23. It was the most cheerful festival of the year. All work and commerce stopped, and the streets were filled with crowds and a carnival atmosphere. Slaves were temporarily freed, and the houses were decorated with laurel branches.” ( :387)

“In the year 274 the Roman Emperor Aurelian (A.D. 214-275) had established an official cult of the sun-god Mithras, declaring his birthday, December 25, a national holiday.” ( :387)

“Roman legions, as a bringer of fertility, peace, and victory. So it was a clever move when, in the year A.D. 354, the Christian church under Pope Liberius (352-366) co-opted the birthday of Mithras and declared December 25 to be the birthday of Jesus Christ.” ( :387)

“Just as you cannot make people see the world your way, you cannot wrench them into the future with painful changes. They will rebel. If reform is necessary, anticipate the reaction against it and find ways to disguise the change and sweeten the poison.” ( :388)

“The ideas of Confucius remained as alive in the 1920s as they had been in the sixth century B.C., when the philosopher was alive. Despite the oppressions of the current system, would the peasantry ever give up the deep-rooted values of the past for the great unknown of Communism?” ( :388)

“Confucian hierarchy of father and oldest son remained firmly in place; but The Water Margin preached a superior value—the fraternal” ( :388)

“ties of the band of robbers, the nobility of the cause that unites people beyond blood. The novel had great emotional resonance for Chinese people, who love to root for the underdog. Time and again, then, Mao would present his revolutionary army as an extension of the robber band in The Water Margin, likening his struggle to the timeless conflict between the oppressed peasantry and an evil emperor” ( :389)

“Even once the Party came to power, Mao continued to associate it with the past. He presented himself to the masses not as a Chinese Lenin but as a modern Chuko Liang, the real-life third-century strategist who figures prominently in the popular historical novel The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.” ( :389)

“No people had a more profound attachment to the past than the Chinese. In the face of this enormous obstacle to reform, Mao’s strategy was simple: Instead of struggling against the past, he turned it to his advantage, associating his radical Communists with the romantic figures of Chinese history.” ( :389)

“It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. Niccolò Machiavelli, 1469-1527” ( :390)

“Change in the abstract, or superficial change, they desire, but a change that upsets core habits and routines is deeply disturbing to them.” ( :390)

“human animal, who unconsciously associates such voids with death and chaos. The opportunity for change and renewal seduces people to the side of the revolution, but once their enthusiasm fades, which it will, they are left with a certain emptiness. Yearning for the past, they create an opening for it to creep back in” ( :390)

“Understand: The fact that the past is dead and buried gives you the freedom to reinterpret it. To support your cause, tinker with the facts. The past is a text in which you can safely insert your own lines.” ( :390)

“he faced fiercer opposition from his fellow scientists than from religious authorities. His theories challenged too many fixed ideas. Jonas Salk ran into the same wall with his radical innovations in immunology, as did Max Planck with his revolutionizing of physics.” ( :391)

“”A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”” ( :391)

“The changes you make must seem less innovative than they are. England did eventually become a Protestant nation, as Cromwell wished, but it took over a century of gradual evolution.” ( :391)

“Those who finish a revolution are rarely those who start it.” ( :391)

“Authority: He who desires or attempts to reform the government of a state, and wishes to have it accepted, must at least retain the semblance of the old forms; so that it may seem to the people that” ( :391)

“there has been no change in the institutions, even though in fact they are entirely different from the old ones. For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities. (Niccolò Machiavelli, 1469-1527)” ( :392)


LAW 46


“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.” ( :393)

“A greedy man and an envious man met a king. The king said to them, “One of you may ask something of me and I will give it to him, provided I give twice as much to the other. ” The envious person did not want to ask first for he was envious of his companion who would receive twice as much, and the greedy man did not want to ask first since he wanted everything that was to be had. Finally the greedy one pressed the envious one to be the first to make the request. So the envious person asked the king to pluck out one of his eyes. JEWISH PARABLE, THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS, SOLOMON SCHIMMEL, 1992″ ( :394)

“Orton wrote in his diary, “We sat talking of how happy we felt. And how it couldn’t, surely, last. We’d have to pay for it. Or we’d be struck down from afar by disaster because we were, perhaps, too happy. To be young, good-looking, healthy, famous, comparatively rich and happy is surely going against nature.” Halliwell outwardly seemed as happy as Orton. Inwardly, though, he was seething. And two months later, in the early morning of August 10, 1967, just days after helping Orton put the finishing touches to the wicked farce What the Butler Saw (undoubtedly his masterpiece), Kenneth Halliwell bludgeoned Joe Orton to death with repeated blows of a hammer to the head. He then took twenty-one sleeping pills and died himself, leaving behind a note that read, “If you read Orton’s diary all will be explained.”” ( :394)

“It takes great talent and skill to conceal one’s talent and skill LA ROCHEFOUCAULD, 1613-1680” ( :395)

“Only a minority can succeed at the game of life, and that minority inevitably arouses the envy of those around them. Once success happens your way, however, the people to fear the most are those in your own circle, the friends and acquaintances you have left behind.” ( :396)

“Envy, which the philosopher Kierkegaard calls “unhappy admiration,” takes hold.” ( :396)

“Eventually, however, the Medici wealth could not be ignored, and in 1433, feeling threatened by the family, the Albizzis used their government muscle to have Cosimo arrested on charges of conspiring to overthrow the republic. Some in the Albizzi faction wanted Cosimo executed, others feared this would spark a civil war. In the end they exiled him from Florence. Cosimo did not fight the sentence; he left quietly. Sometimes, he knew, it is wiser to bide one’s time and keep a low profile.” ( :396)

“Cosimo solved the problem in two ways: He secretly used his wealth to buy influence among key citizens, and he placed his own allies, all cleverly enlisted from the middle classes to disguise their allegiance to him, in top government positions. Those who complained of his growing political clout were taxed into submission, or their properties were bought out from under them by Cosimo’s banker allies. The republic survived in name only. Cosimo held the strings.” ( :397)

“The palace was a symbol of Cosimo’s strategy— all simplicity on the outside, all elegance and opulence within. Cosimo finally died in 1464, after ruling for thirty years. The citizens of Florence wanted to build him a great tomb, and to celebrate his memory with elaborate funeral ceremonies, but on his deathbed he had asked to be buried without “any pomp or demonstration.” Some sixty years later, Machiavelli hailed Cosimo as the wisest of all princes, “for he knew how extraordinary things that are seen and appear every hour make men much more envied than those that are done in deed and are covered over with decency.”” ( :397)

“One of Cosimo’s favorite expressions was, “Envy is a weed that should not be watered.”” ( :397)

“The insidious envy of the masses can actually be deflected quite easily: Appear as one of them in style and values. Make alliances with those below you, and elevate them to positions of power to secure their support in times of need.” ( :397)

“By making others aware of their inferior position, you are only stirring up “unhappy admiration,” or envy, which will gnaw away at them until they undermine you in ways you cannot foresee.” ( :398)

“Of all the disorders of the soul, envy is the only one no one confesses to. Plutarch, c. A.D 46-120” ( :398)

“This disturbance in our self-image cannot last long without stirring up ugly emotions. At first we feel envy: If only we had the quality or skill of the superior person, we would be happy. But envy brings us neither comfort nor any closer to equality. Nor can we admit to feeling it, for it is frowned upon socially—to show envy is to admit to feeling inferior. To close friends, we may confess our secret unrealized desires, but we will never confess to feeling envy. So it goes underground.” ( :398)

“He may be smarter than I am, we say, but he has no morals or conscience. Or he may have more power, but that’s because he cheats. If we do not slander him, perhaps we praise him excessively—another of envy’s disguises.” ( :398)

“The most obvious type we all know: The moment something good happens to them, whether by luck or design, they crow about it. In fact they get pleasure out of making people feel inferior. This type is obvious and beyond hope. There are others, however, who stir up envy in more subtle and unconscious ways, and are partly to blame for their troubles. Envy is often a problem, for example, for people with great natural talent” ( :399)

“The envy elicited by Sir Walter Raleigh is the worst kind: It was inspired by his natural talent and grace, which he felt was best displayed in its full flower. Money others can attain; power as well. But superior intelligence, good looks, charm—these are qualities no one can acquire. The naturally perfect have to work the most to disguise their brilliance, displaying a defect or two to deflect envy before it takes root. It is a common and naive mistake to think you are charming people with your natural talents when in fact they are coming to hate you.” ( :399)

“Subtly emphasize how lucky you have been, to make your happiness seem more attainable to other people, and the need for envy less acute. But be careful not to affect a false modesty that people can easily see through. This will only make them more envious. The act has to be good; your humility, and your openness to those you have left behind, have to seem genuine” ( :400)

“According to the Elizabethan statesman and writer Sir Francis Bacon, the wisest policy of the powerful is to create a kind of pity for themselves, as if their responsibilities were a burden and a sacrifice. How can one envy a man who has taken on a heavy load for the public interest?” ( :401)

“At the same time, those who are hypercritical of you, or who slander you publicly, probably envy you as well. Recognize their behavior as disguised envy and you keep out of the trap of mutual mud-slinging, or of taking their criticisms to heart. Win your revenge by ignoring their measly presence.” ( :401)

“The filmmaker Ingmar Bergman was hounded by Swedish tax authorities because he stood out in a country where standing out from the crowd is frowned on” ( :401)

“”Envy is the tax which all distinction must pay.”” ( :402)

“The envious man dies not only once but as many times as the person he envies lives to hear the voice of praise; the eternity of the latter’s fame is the measure of the former’s punishment: the one is immortal in his glory, the latter in his misery. The trumpet of fame which sounds immortality for the one heralds death for the other, who is sentenced to be choked to death on his own envy.” ( :402)

“opposite approach: Display the utmost disdain for those who envy you. Instead of hiding your perfection, make it obvious. Make every new triumph an opportunity to make the envious squirm. Your good fortune and power become their living hell. If you attain a position of unimpeachable power, their envy will have no effect on you, and you will have the best revenge of all: They are trapped in envy while you are free in your power.” ( :403)


LAW 47


“The moment of victory is often the moment of greatest peril. In the heat of victory, arrogance and overconfidence can push you past the goal you had aimed for, and by going too far, you make more enemies than you defeat.” ( :404)

“Two cockerels fought on a dungheap. One cockerel was the stronger: he vanquished the other and drove him from the dungheap. All the hens gathered around the cockerel, and began to laud him. The cockerel wanted his strength and glory to be known in the next yard. He flew on top of the barn, flapped his wings, and crowed in a load voice: “Look at me, all of you. I am a victorious cockerel. No other cockerel in the world has such strength as I. ” The cockerel had not finished, when an eagle killed him, seized him in his claws, and carried him to his nest.” ( :405)

“The news of her son’s death overwhelmed Tomyris. She gathered all the forces that she could muster in her kingdom, and whipping them into a vengeful frenzy, engaged Cyrus’s troops in a violent and bloody battle. Finally, the Massagetai prevailed. In their anger they decimated the Persian army, killing Cyrus himself. After the battle, Tomyris and her soldiers searched the battlefield for Cyrus’s corpse. When she found it she cut off his head and shoved it into a wineskin full of human blood, crying out, “Though I have conquered you and live, yet you have ruined me by treacherously taking my son. See now—I fulfill my threat: You have your fill of blood.” After Cyrus’s death, the Persian Empire quickly unraveled. One act of arrogance undid all of Cyrus’s good work.” ( :405)

“In 1744 Louis’s current mistress, the Duchesse de Chateauroux, died. Jeanne went on the offensive. She placed herself everywhere he would be: at masked balls at Versailles, at the opera, wherever their paths would cross, and wherever she could display her many talents: dancing, singing, riding, coquetry. The king finally succumbed to her charms, and in a ceremony at Versailles in September of 1745, this twenty-four-year-old daughter of a middle-class banking agent was officially inaugurated as the king’s mistress. She was given her own room in the palace, a room the king could enter at any time via a hidden stairway and back door. And because some of the courtiers were angry that he had chosen a woman of low origins, he made her a marquise. From now on she would be known as Madame de Pompadour.” ( :407)

“It was only when her part in the disastrous Seven Years’ War drew much criticism on her that she slowly withdrew from public affairs. Madame de Pompadour’s health had always been delicate, and she died at the age of forty-three, in 1764. Her reign as mistress had lasted an unprecedented twenty years. “She was regretted by all,” wrote the Duc de Croy, “for she was kindly and helpful to everyone who approached her.”” ( :408)

“The greatest danger occurs at the moment of victory. Napoleon Bonaparte, 1769-1821” ( :409)

“The essence of strategy is controlling what comes next, and the elation of victory can upset your ability to control what comes next in two ways.” ( :409)

“You have to have a strategy for dealing with these people. Simply preaching moderation will make you look weak and small-minded; seeming to fail to follow up on a victory can lessen your power.” ( :409)

“The skill with which Pericles played this game is revealed by what happened when he died: The demagogues took over, pushed Athens into invading Sicily, and in one rash move destroyed an empire.” ( :410)

“Finally, the moment when you stop has great dramatic import. What comes last sticks in the mind as a kind of exclamation point. There is no better time to stop and walk away than after a victory. Keep going and you risk lessening the effect, even ending up defeated. As lawyers say of crossexamination, “Always stop with a victory.”” ( :410)

“When you beat an enemy, then, make your victory complete. Crush him into nonexis tence. In the moment of victory, you do not restrain yourself from crushing the enemy you have defeated, but rather from needlessly advancing against others.” ( :411)


LAW 48


“Sparta’s solution was to create a society dedicated to the art of war. Spartans would be tougher, stronger, and fiercer than their neighbors. This was the only way they could ensure their stability and survival.” ( :412)

“The Spartans’ single-mindedness allowed them to forge the most powerful infantry in the world. They marched in perfect order and fought with incomparable bravery. Their tight-knit phalanxes could vanquish an army ten times their size, as they proved in defeating the Persians at Thermopylae.” ( :413)

“They only wanted to keep what they had already conquered and to defend it against invaders. Decades would pass without a single change in the system that had succeeded so well in preserving Sparta’s status quo.” ( :413)

“In 431 B.C., the war that had been brewing between Athens and Sparta for so long finally erupted. It lasted twenty-seven years, but after many twists of fortune, the Spartan war machine finally emerged victorious. The Spartans now commanded an empire, and this time they could not stay in their shell. If they gave up what they had gained, the beaten Athenians would regroup and rise against them, and the long war would have been fought for naught.” ( :413)

“And Athens, meanwhile, was adapting to losing its empire, managing to thrive as a cultural and economic center. Confused by a change in its status quo, Sparta grew weaker and weaker. Some thirty years after defeating Athens, it lost an important battle with the city-state of Thebes. Almost overnight, this once mighty nation collapsed, never to recover” ( :414)

“a shell to protect itself from the environment. But like a turtle, the Spartans sacrificed mobility for safety. They managed to preserve stability for three hundred years, but at what cost? They had no culture beyond warfare, no arts to relieve the tension, a constant anxiety about the status quo.” ( :414)

“In the case of Sparta, it was not the armies of Athens that defeated it, but the Athenian money. Money flows everywhere it has the opportunity to go; it cannot be controlled, or made to fit a prescribed pattern. It is inherently chaotic. And in the long run, money made Athens the conqueror, by infiltrating the Spartan system and corroding its protective armor. In the battle between the two systems, Athens was fluid and creative enough to take new forms, while Sparta could grow only more rigid until it cracked.” ( :414)

“later. Forming neither rear guards nor vanguards, they moved like mercury, never staying in one place, elusive and formless.” ( :415)

“The repeated failure of protective armor shows that, even at a somewhat low evolutionary level, mind triumphed over mere matter. It is this sort of triumph which has been supremely exemplified in Man. SCIENI IFIC THEORY AND RELIGION, E. W. BARNES, 1933” ( :415)

“Yet a pattern did eventually emerge in Mao’s attacks. After the Nationalists had taken the cities, leaving the Communists to occupy what was generally considered Manchuria’s useless space, the Communists started using that large space to surround the cities. If Chiang sent an army from one city to reinforce another, the Communists would encircle the rescuing army. Chiang’s forces were slowly broken into smaller and smaller units, isolated from one another, their lines of supply and communication cut. The Nationalists still had superior firepower, but if they could not move, what good was it?” ( :415)

“November of 1948, the Nationalists surrendered Manchuria to the Communists—a humiliating blow to the technically superior Nationalist army, and one that proved decisive in the war. By the following year the Communists controlled all of China.” ( :416)

“The two board games that best approximate the strategies of war are chess and the Asian game of go. In chess the board is small. In comparison to go, the attack comes relatively quickly, forcing a decisive battle.” ( :416)

“A game of go—called wei-chi in China—can last up to three hundred moves. The strategy is more subtle and fluid than chess, developing slowly; the more complex the pattern your stones initially create on the board, the harder it is for your opponent to understand your strategy. Fighting to control a particular area is not worth the trouble: You have to think in larger terms, to be prepared to sacrifice an area in order eventually to dominate the board. What you are after is not an entrenched position but mobility. With mobility you can isolate the opponent in small areas and then encircle them. The aim is not to kill off the opponent’s pieces directly, as in chess, but to induce a kind of paralysis and collapse. Chess is linear, position oriented, and aggressive; go is nonlinear and fluid. Aggression is indirect until the end of the game, when the winner can surround the opponent’s stones at an accelerated pace.” ( :416)

“pattern” against the Nationalists. Place your men in a jigsaw pattern in go, and your opponent loses himself trying to figure out what you are up to. Either he wastes time pursuing you or, like Chiang” ( :416)

“Kai-shek, he assumes you are incompetent and fails to protect himself. And if he concentrates on single areas, as Western strategy advises, he becomes a sitting duck for encirclement. In the wei-chi way of war, you encircle the enemy’s brain, using mind games, propaganda, and irritation tactics to confuse and dishearten. This was the strategy of the Communists—an apparent formlessness that disoriented and terrified their enemy” ( :417)

“In this fluid form of warfare, you value movement over position. Your speed and mobility make it impossible to predict your moves; unable to understand you, your enemy can form no strategy to defeat you. Instead of fixing on particular spots, this indirect form of warfare spreads out, just as you can use the large and disconnected nature of the real world to your advantage. Be like a vapor. Do not give your opponents anything solid to attack; watch as they exhaust themselves pursuing you, trying to cope with your elusiveness.” ( :417)

“When you want to fight us, we don’t let you and you can’t find us. But when we want to fight you, we make sure that you can’t get away and we hit you squarely … and wipe you out…. The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue. Mao Tse-tung, 1893-1976” ( :417)

“Comparatively free from the hamstringing authority of Berlin, disregarding orders even from Hitler himself on occasion, Rommel implemented one successful operation after another until he had most of North Africa under his control and Cairo trembling at his feet. THE ART OF WINNING WARS, JAMES MRAZEK, 1968” ( :417)

“Back on land, guerrilla warfare too demonstrates this evolution toward abstraction. T. E. Lawrence was perhaps the first modern strategist to develop the theory behind this kind of warfare, and to put it” ( :418)

“into practice. His ideas influenced Mao, who found in his writings an uncanny Western equivalent to wei-chi. Lawrence was working with Arabs fighting for their territory against the Turks. His idea was to make the Arabs blend into the vast desert, never providing a target, never collecting together in one place.” ( :419)

“This is the ultimate form of strategy. The war of engagement has become far too dangerous and costly; indirection and elusiveness yield far better results at a much lower cost. The main cost, in fact, is mental—the thinking it takes to align your forces in scattered patterns, and to undermine the minds and psychology of your opponents.” ( :419)

“Two female leaders exemplifying the formless style of rule are Queen Elizabeth of England and Empress Catherine the Great of Russia. In the violent wars between Catholics and Protestants, Elizabeth steered a middle course. She avoided alliances that would commit her to one side, and that over time would harm the country. She managed to keep her country at peace until it was strong enough for war. Her reign was one of the most glorious in history because of her incredible capacity to adapt and her flexible ideology” ( :419)

“Catherine the Great too evolved an improvisatory style of governing. After she deposed her” ( :419)

“husband, Emperor Peter II, taking sole control of Russia in 1762, no one thought she would survive. But she had no preconceived ideas, no philosophy or theory to dictate her policies. Although a foreigner (she came from Germany), she understood Russia’s moods, and how it was changing over the years. “One must govern in such a way that one’s people think they themselves want to do what one commands them to do,” she said, and to do this she had to be always a step ahead of their desires and to adapt to their resistance. By never forcing the issue, she reformed Russia in a strikingly short period of time.” ( :420)

“Flexible, formless rulers will be much criticized, but they will endure, and people will eventually come to identify with them, since they are as their subjects are—changing with the wind, open to circumstance.” ( :420)

“Then, by being formless and adaptable, slowly insinuate yourself into their soul. This way you will catch them off guard, for rigid people are always ready to ward off direct blows but are helpless against the subtle and insinuating. To succeed at such a strategy you must play the chameleon—conform on the surface, while breaking down your enemy from the inside.” ( :420)

“Under the surface, Japanese culture thrived. Had the Japanese been rigid about foreign influences and tried to fight them off, they might have suffered the injuries that the West inflicted on China. That is the power of formlessness—it gives the aggressor nothing to react against, nothing to hit.” ( :420)

“In evolution, largeness is often the first step toward extinction. What is immense and bloated has no mobility, but must constantly feed itself. The unintelligent are often seduced into believing that size connotes power, the bigger the better.” ( :420)

“Artabanus warned his master of grave misgivings: “The two mightiest powers in the world are against you,” he said. Xerxes laughed—what powers could” ( :420)

“match his gigantic army? “I will tell you what they are,” answered Artabanus. “The land and the sea.” There were no safe harbors large enough to receive Xerxes’ fleet. And the more land the Persians conquered, and the longer their supply lines stretched, the more ruinous the cost of feeding this immense army would prove.” ( :421)

“An enemy who does not respect you will grow bold, and boldness makes even the smallest animal dangerous.” ( :421)

“Never forget, though, that formlessness is a strategic pose. It gives you room to create tactical surprises; as your enemies struggle to guess your next move, they reveal their own strategy, putting them at a decided disadvantage. It keeps the initiative on your side, putting your enemies in the position of never acting, constantly reacting.” ( :421)

“Never confuse it with a go-with-the-flow style, or with a religious resignation to the twists of fortune. You use formlessness, not because it creates inner harmony and peace, but because it will increase your power.” ( :421)

“means seeing events through your own eyes, and often ignoring the advice that people constantly peddle your way. It means that ultimately you must throw out the laws that others preach, and the books they write to tell you what to do, and the sage advice of the elder. “The laws that govern circumstances are abolished by new circumstances,” Napoleon wrote, which means that it is up to you to gauge each new situation. Rely too much on other” ( :421)

“people’s ideas and you end up taking a form not of your own making. Too much respect for other people’s wisdom will make you depreciate your own. Be brutal with the past, especially your own, and have no respect for the philosophies that are foisted on you from outside.” ( :422)

“A military force has no constant formation, water has no constant shape: The ability to gain victory by changing and adapting according to the opponent is called genius. (Sun-tzu, fourth century B.C.)” ( :422)

“When you assume a form and go on the attack, use concentration, speed, and power. As Mao said, “When we fight you, we make sure you can’t get away.”” ( :422)


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