I bought this book on sale from Audible and thought that it should be named, “The 48 Laws of Wicked Power”. Intelligence is used for manipulation, kindness for popularity, generosity for future advantage, agreeableness for influence. It’s a bit too depressing to read. I can just imagine anybody who practices these 48 laws will soon feel isolated, alienated, and morally wrong. I’ve never read Machiavelli, but knowing who Machiavelli is, this book can be considered a sequel to Machiavelli’s work.
There are many historical stories and cases, which could be very entertaining if the author hasn’t put such a cynical spin on them. Sure, history should not be a moral lesson. However history should not be an immoral lesson either. Most humans can’t stomach too much immorality.
Whenever the book touches on the stories Three Kingdoms or the conflict of Xiang Yu and Liu Bang, it interprets in a way that simplifies a complex problem. Xiang Yu’s failure is not because he was lenient to Liu Bang on several occasions, when he had the chances to murder him. Xiang Yu is an honorable man and he would never stoop so low to scheming and murder. Xiang Yu failed because he is not a military strategist. He’s a warrior and a great fighter, but he couldn’t listen to his aids, couldn’t design a strategy, couldn’t lead a military campaign when it became complicated. If it was not Liu Bang, it would be somebody else who would overthrow him. He’s not cut out for leading an operation in which he had to listen to people who are more knowledgeable, intelligent, and talented in designing and directing.