40+ Best 48 Laws of Power Quotes by Robert Greene

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We have compiled a list of quotes from 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene for you to read.



“The party’s ostensible purpose would be to commemorate the completion of Fouquet’s château, Vaux-le-Vicomte, but its real function was to pay tribute to the king, the guest of honor. “

“All masters want to appear more brilliant than other people. They do not care about science or empirical truth or the latest invention ; they care about their name and their glory. “

“You cannot worry about upsetting every person you come across, but you must be selectively cruel. “

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“In this time of peril he needed someone he could trust as his councillor, and his thoughts turned to Basilius, his best friend. “

“Basilius learned well and was soon advising the emperor on all matters of state. The only problem seemed to be money—Basiiius never had enough. Exposure to the splendor of Byzantine court life made him avaricious for the perks of power. “

“The whole day is spent in fear, and I am unhappy both at the table and in my bed. For which one of you does not dream of ascending the throne. “

“It is two men of equal wealth and equal birth who contract friendship and marriage, not a rich man and a pauper…. An old friend—who needs him. “

“If you are not careful, you will find them chewing you up. “

“The more favors and gifts you supply to revive the friendship, the less gratitude you receive. “

“Conflict is the lifeblood of the revolution. “

“The man of power welcomes conflict, using enemies to enhance his reputation as a surefooted fighter who can be relied upon in times of uncertainty. “

“It is best, then, to reserve the scapegoat role for someone who is close to you but not too close. “


“Once the countess was jealous but intrigued, it would be time to beguile her. “

“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. “

“Seduction is a game to her, to be practiced with skill. “

“The great questions of the time will be decided, not by speeches and resolutions, but by iron and blood. “

“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. “

“Remember: The best deceivers do everything they can to cloak their roguish qualities. They cultivate an air of honesty in one area to disguise their dishonesty in others. “

“I was working on a deal that would have made me a lot of money, but it fell through. I had to come up with the money right away, so I took out a loan from the bank. “

“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. “

“Without it they were as good as dead. “

“The familiar, inconspicuous front is the perfect smoke screen. “

“When [Selassie] 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. “

“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. “

“The paranoid and wary are often the easiest to deceive. “

“The best deceivers utilize a bland and inconspicuous front that calls no attention to themselves. They know that extravagant words and gestures immediately raise suspicion. “

“It takes patience and humility to dull your brilliant colors, to put on the mask of the inconspicuous. Do not despair at having to wear such a bland mask—it is often your unreadability that draws people to you and makes you appear a person of power. “

“The world wants to be deceived. “


“Few in the crowd really heard the lengthy speech that followed; those scars, proof of his valor and patriotism, moved the people to tears. “

“The people are a pack of slaves. They are led by a pack of wolves. They are the food of the rich. They are the fodder of the poor. They are the playthings of the gods. They are the cattle of the state. “

“When word of Coriolanus’s latest speech reached the people, their anger knew no bounds. The tribunes were sent to the senate to demand that Coriolanus appear before them. He refused. Riots broke out all over the city. “

“The discrepancy between the legend and the reality proved immensely disappointing to those who wanted to believe in their hero. “

“Undutiful words of a subject do often take deeper root than the memory of ill deeds. “

“Louis XIV was a man of very few words. His most famous remark is ‘L’état, c’est moi’ (I am the state); nothing could be more pithy yet more eloquent. “

“When you carefully control what you reveal, they cannot pierce your intentions or your meaning. “

“It is occasionally wiser to imitate the court jester, who plays the fool but knows he is smarter than the king. “

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“Without lamenting his fate, or wasting time trying to figure out how he had been caught, Liang ordered his troops to take down their flags, throw open the city gates, and hide. “

“The power of reputation can put a vast army on the defensive, even force them into retreat, without a single arrow being fired. “

“It took years for Peale’s to recover, and they never forgot what Barnum had done. Mr. Peale himself decided to attack Barnum by building a reputation for high-brow entertainment, promoting his museum’s programs as more scientific than those of his vulgar competitor. “

“Once Barnum did have a reputation of his own, he used the second, gentler tactic, the fake hypnotism demonstration: He ridiculed his rivals’ reputation. “

“The people around us, even our closest friends, will always to some extent remain mysterious and unfathomable. Their characters have secret recesses that they never reveal. “

“Your success seems destined by your past triumphs. Much of the success of Henry Kissinger’s shuttle diplomacy rested on his reputation for ironing out differences; no one wanted to be seen as so unreasonable that Kissinger could not sway him. “

“When your own reputation is solid, use subtler tactics, such as satire and ridicule, to weaken your opponent while making you out as a charming rogue. “


“After desperate appeals, Barnum finally convinced them to follow him to the circus, where he could verify his identity. “

“Remember, all we need to ensure success is notoriety. “

“Joice Heth, is not a human being but an automaton, made up of whalebone, india-rubber, and numberless springs. “

“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. “

“It is better to be attacked, even slandered, than ignored. “

“Remember, however, to use such tactics sparingly after you have the public’s attention, when the act can wear thin. “

“By the summer of 1905, although few Parisians had actually seen Mata Hari dance, her name was on everyone’s lips. “

“Soon the fame of Mata Hari and her sacred Indian dances spread beyond Paris. She was invited to Berlin, Vienna, Milan. Over the next few years she performed throughout Europe, mixed with the highest social circles, and earned an income that gave her an independence rarely enjoyed by a woman of the period. “

“What separates her from the mass, what attracts and holds the public’s attention and makes her famous and wealthy, is her mystery. “

“Most people are upfront, can be read like an open book, take little care to control their words or image, and are hopelessly predictable. “

“If your social position prevents you from completely wrapping your actions in mystery, you must at least learn to make yourself less obvious. “

“The mysterious makes your forces seem larger, your power more terrifying. “

“Never appear overly greedy for attention, then, for it signals insecurity, and insecurity drives power away. “


“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. “

“While he pondered great inventions for the future, others stole the patents he had already developed and got the glory for themselves. “

“The lesson is twofold: First, the credit for an invention or creation is as important, if not more important, than the invention itself. You must secure the credit for yourself and keep others from stealing it away, or from piggy-backing on your hard work. “

“It is useless to complain about this, or to wear yourself ragged with bitterness, as Tesla did. Better to protect yourself and join the game. Once you have established a power base, become a vulture yourself, and save yourself a lot of time and energy. “

“The other pole is that of the artist Peter Paul Rubens, who, late in his career, found himself deluged with requests for paintings. He created a system: In his large studio he employed dozens of outstanding painters, one specializing in robes, another in backgrounds, and so on. “

“Their knowledge is gathering dust, waiting for you to come and stand on their shoulders. “

“When letting other people share the credit serves your purpose. It is especially important to not be greedy when you have a master above you. “

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“Meanwhile, on the island of Elba, Napoleon’s life was a mockery of his previous glory. “

“He [Napoleon] was tipped off that the English would let him go, and indeed his escape occurred in the middle of the afternoon, in full view of English spyglasses. “

“Remember: The essence of power is the ability to keep the initiative, to get others to react to your moves, to keep your opponent and those around you on the defensive. When you make other people come to you, you suddenly become the one controlling the situation. And the one who has control has power. “

“Everything depends on the sweetness of your bait. “

“If on one occasion you make it a point of dignity that others must come to you and you succeed, they will continue to do so even after you stop trying. “

“A rapid and unforeseen move is terrifying and demoralizing. “


“When the smaller mast arrived, Mucianus asked his soldiers for an explanation. They described to him how the engineer had argued endlessly for the smaller mast, but had finally promised to send the larger one. “

“It is not simply a question of avoiding an argument with those who stand above you. We all believe we are masters in the realm of opinions and reasoning. “

“So, despite the money that had been wasted on it, it gathered dust in the dark halls of the church. “

“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. “

“The truth is generally seen, rarely heard. “

“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. “

“In such cases it is to your advantage to argue with all the conviction you can muster. Draw the other person into an argument to distract them from your deceptive move. “


“Although Dujarier was deeply in love, his life started to slide downhill. “

“Although he had been known as a miser, and was not given to flights of fancy, he started to shower Lola with gifts and to write poetry for her. “

“Do not consort with fools, especially those who consider themselves wise. “

“When you suspect you are in the presence of an infector, don’t argue, don’t try to help, don’t pass the person on to your friends, or you will become enmeshed. “

“The incurably unhappy and unstable have a particularly strong infecting power because their characters and emotions are so intense. “

“All positive qualities can infect us. “


“No amount of money or honor could possibly compare in value to the preservation of a city’s liberty. “

“Sooner or later someone comes along who can do the job as well as they can—someone younger, fresher, less expensive, less threatening. “

“When Otto von Bismarck became a deputy in the Prussian parliament in 1847, he was thirty-two years old and without an ally or friend. “

“It was in fact Bismarck who set state policy. “

“It is much wiser to seek out weak rulers or masters with whom you can create a relationship of dependency. “

“The best way to achieve this position is to create a relationship of dependence. “

“If Cohn messed with Lawson he would ruin an immensely profitable relationship. That was worth more than the terrible publicity brought to him by his defiance of the committee. “

“It also made him many allies. “

“The weakness of making others depend on you is that you are in some measure dependent on them. But trying to move beyond that point means getting rid of those above you—it means standing alone, depending on no one. “


“I know you’re a con man, Count, said Capone. I knew it the moment you walked in here. I expected either one hundred thousand dollars or nothing. But this… getting my money back … well. “

“A con artist loves conflicting emotions like these, since the person caught up in them is so easily distracted and deceived. “

“Brazenly taking something from someone is dangerous, even for the powerful. “

“Stop battering away at these walls! You must find some other way, some ruse. We cannot take Troy by force alone. We must find some cunning stratagem. “

“When you are about to take, you should give. “

“Since all government officials are dishonest, Lustig had to be real. “


“After he came to power, they came to feel he had forgotten them. “

“When news of the rebellion reached Castruccio, he hurried back to Lucca. By the time he arrived, however, the fighting had ceased, through Stefano’s agency, and he was surprised by the city’s calm and peace. “

“A man like Castruccio knows only force and self-interest. When the rebellion began, to end it and place oneself at his mercy was the most dangerous possible move. “

“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. “

“When people choose between talk about the past and talk about the future, a pragmatic person will always opt for the future and forget the past. “

“When the Mongols invaded China in the twelfth century, they threatened to obliterate a culture that had thrived for over two thousand years. “

“When you beg them for help, you emphasize their power and position. They are strong enough to need nothing from you except the chance to feel superior. “

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“Not only will Mellon buy from me but he will buy only from me. “

“What’s the point of winging it, of just hoping you may be able to charm this or that client. It’s like shooting ducks blindfolded. “

“The key here is Talleyrand’s ability to suppress himself in the conversation, to make others talk endlessly about themselves and inadvertently reveal their intentions and plans. “

“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. “

“While spying gives you a third eye, disinformation puts out one of your enemy’s eyes. “


“No rivalry between leaders is more celebrated in Chinese history than the struggle between Hsiang Yu and Liu Pang. “

“To let him go would be like rearing a tiger—it will devour you later. “

“Only one side can win, and it must win totally. “

“Although now in a position of great power, Wu hardly felt secure. There were enemies everywhere; she could not let down her guard for one moment. Indeed, when she was forty-one, she began to fear that her beautiful young niece was becoming the emperor’s favorite. “

“Empress Wu’s forty-year reign was one of the longest in Chinese history. Although the story of her bloody rise to power is well known, in China she is considered one of the period’s most able and effective rulers. “

“The solution: Have no mercy. Crush your enemies as totally as they would crush you. Ultimately the only peace and security you can hope for from your enemies is their disappearance. “

“For it must be noted, that men must either be caressed or else annihilated; they will revenge themselves for small injuries, but cannot do so for great ones; the injury therefore that we do to a man must be such that we need not fear his vengeance. “

“sometimes it is better to let your enemies destroy themselves, if such a thing is possible, than to make them suffer by your hand. “


“And Pierre too fell in love with a lady in Javiac, the gracious but temperamental Viernetta. “

“The stronger and longer the disagreement, he told Guillaume, the sweeter the feeling that comes with peace and rapprochement. “

“What withdraws, what becomes scarce, suddenly seems to deserve our respect and honor. What stays too long, inundating us with its presence, makes us disdain it. “

“Without a leader, however, the country soon fell into chaos, and fractured into small kingdoms, with village fighting against village. “

“Once Deioces had discovered the truth of this law, he carried it to its ultimate realization. “

“The truth of this law can most easily be appreciated in matters of love and seduction. In the beginning stages of an affair, the lover’s absence stimulates your imagination, forming a sort of aura around him or her. “

“In seventeenth-century Holland, the upper classes wanted to make the tulip more than just a beautiful flower—they wanted it to be a kind of status symbol. Making the flower scarce, indeed almost impossible to obtain, they sparked what was later called tulipomania. “

“The greatest ruler of the sixteenth century was Charles V. King of Spain, Hapsburg emperor, he governed an empire that at one point included much of Europe and the New World. Yet at the height of his power, in 1557, he retired to the monastery of Yuste. “

“Until that status is attained, absence is dangerous—instead of fanning the flames, it will extinguish them. “


“It seems that all our work may come to nothing, Spassky told a comrade. But what can we do. It is Bobby’s move. If he comes, we play. If he does not come, we do not play. “

“After this, Spassky’s got to ask himself if it’s safe to go back to Russia. “

“He doesn’t just look for the best move. He looks for the move that will disturb the man he is playing. “

“A person of power instills a kind of fear by deliberately unsettling those around him to keep the initiative on his side. “

“Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible,. . such tactics will win every time and a small army may thus destroy a large one. “

“By creating a pattern for people to be familiar and comfortable with, you can lull them to sleep. They have prepared everything according to their preconceived notions about you. You can use this in several ways: First, it sets up a smoke screen, a comfortable front behind which you can carry on deceptive actions. “


“The emperor lived in the most magnificent palace built to that date, in the capital of Hsien-yang. The palace had 270 pavilions; all of these were connected by secret underground passageways, allowing the emperor to move through the palace without anyone seeing him. “

“Ch’in has been victorious for four generations, yet has lived in constant terror and apprehension of destruction. “

“If he turned to someone, asked him a question, made an insignificant remark, the eyes of all present were turned on this person. It was a distinction that was talked of and increased prestige. “

“The once proud nobility was reduced to squabbling over the right to help the king put on his robes in the morning. “

“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. “

“Since humans are such social creatures, it follows that the social arts that make us pleasant to be around can be practiced only by constant exposure and circulation. The more you are in contact with others, the more graceful and at ease you become. “

“view the world in the following manner: It is like a vast Versailles, with every room communicating with another. “

“Many a serious thinker has been produced in prisons, where we have nothing to do but think. “


“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. “

“If at any point in your dealings with a person you sense an oversensitive and overactive pride, flee. “

“The Plain, Unassuming, and Often Unintelligent Man. Ah, your ears prick up when you find such a tempting victim. But this man is a lot harder to deceive than you imagine. Falling for a ruse often takes intelligence and imagination—a sense of the possible rewards. “

“What will happen will happen, and what it is to be we know not; only God knows. “

“Never assume that the person you are dealing with is weaker or less important than you are. “

“In 1920 Joe Furey, a leader of the ring, was working his way through Texas, making hundreds of thousands of dollars with classic con games. In Fort Worth, he met a sucker named J. Frank Norfleet, a cattleman who owned a large ranch. “

“All people have insecurities, and often the best way to deceive a sucker is to play upon his insecurities. “

“You can never be sure who you are dealing with. A man who is of little importance and means today can be a person of power tomorrow. “

“It took him months to recover from his misjudgment, both mentally and monetarily. “

“There are no persons so insignificant and inconsiderable, but may, some time or other, have it in their power to be of use to you; which they certainly will not, if you have once shown them contempt. “


“In conversation with her, her many male suitors would employ bold sexual innuendo, a dare that Elizabeth did not discourage. She did all she could to stir their interest and simultaneously keep them at bay. “

“By marrying and committing to an alliance with one party or nation, the queen becomes embroiled in conflicts that are not of her choosing, conflicts which may eventually overwhelm her or lead her into a futile war. “

“Remember, though: The goal is not to put people off, or to make it seem that you are incapable of commitment. Like the Virgin Queen, you need to stir the pot, excite interest, lure people with the possibility of having you. “

“When Nixon was reelected in 1972, men much more loyal to him than Kissinger were fired. “

“Men of great abilities are slow to act. for it is easier to avoid occasions for committing yourself than to come well out of a commitment. “

“Although elsewhere he seized everything in his path, he spared Mantua. “

“Once you take the side of any of the forces in the field, you are doomed. “

“You can never win in this game; the conflicts can only multiply. “

“Holding back from the fray allows you: time to position yourself to take advantage of the situation once one side starts to lose. “

“It is 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. “

“The game proposed here is delicate and difficult. If you play too many parties against one another, they will see through the maneuver and will gang up on you. “

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“Don’t be too sure about that. America is a very large country. It has furnished the world with many surprises already. Perhaps it has others in store. “

“When Harpending reached San Francisco, there was an excitement in the air recalling the Gold Rush days of the late 1840s. Two crusty prospectors named Philip Arnold and John Slack had been the ones to find the diamond mine. “

“So they played possum. Who knows if Janin is right, they told the prospectors, the mine may not be as rich as we think. “

“The effectiveness of the scheme, however, rested not on tricks like these but on the fact that Arnold and Slack played their parts to perfection. “

“That was the very last time I ever played quinze. I played so recklessly that everyone was astonished. “

“Masquerading as a swine works wonders on those who, like tigers, are arrogant and overconfident: The easier they think it is to prey on you, the more easily you can turn the tables. “

“At the start of your climb to the top, of course, you cannot play too stupid: You may want to let your bosses know, in a subtle way, that you are smarter than the competition around you. “


“Before launching an all-out attack, however, they dispatched a delegation to persuade the Melians to surrender and become an ally rather than suffer devastation and defeat. “

“When the Melians responded that this denied the notion of fair play, the Athenians said that those in power determined what was fair and what was not. “

“When you are weaker, there is nothing to be gained by fighting a useless fight. No one comes to help the weak—by doing so they would only put themselves in jeopardy. “

“What good is it, he asked, to play the martyr and gain a little public sympathy if in the process they lose the ability to stage their plays and sell their scripts for years to come. “

“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. “

“In the end he kept the freedom to continue his revolutionary writing (as opposed to suffering imprisonment or detainment in the United States), even while subtly mocking the committee and its authority with his pseudo-obedience. “

“It is always our first instinct to react, to meet aggression with some other kind of aggression. But the next time someone pushes you and you find yourself starting to react, try this: Do not resist or fight back, but yield, turn the other cheek, bend. “

“When foreign trade began to threaten Japanese independence in the mid-nineteenth century, the Japanese debated how to defeat the foreigners. “

“The point of surrendering is to save your hide for a later date when you can reassert yourself. It is precisely to avoid martyrdom that one surrenders, but there are times when the enemy will not relent, and martyrdom seems the only way out. “


“The king’s chief minister and adviser, Wu Tzu-hsiu, warned him that the barbarous state of Yueh, to the south, was beginning to notice the kingdom of Wu’s problems and had designs to invade. “

“Tear out my eyes, oh King, and fix them on the gate of Wu, so that I may see the triumphant entry of Yueh. “

“What is bloated beyond its proportions inevitably collapses. “

“The more unified and tight-knit the family, the more powerful it would become. “

“The Rothschilds avoided this danger, and established themselves as the most powerful force in European finance and politics, by once again resorting to the strategy of the ghetto—excluding outsiders, concentrating their forces. “

“Only through such an anchoring in the past was the family able to thrive amidst such chaos. “

“The solution is a form of retreat inside ourselves, to the past, to more concentrated forms of thought and action. “

“It is enough to strike oil once—your wealth and power are assured for a lifetime. “

“When fighting a stronger army, concentrating your forces only makes you an easier target—better to dissolve into the scenery and frustrate your enemy with the elusiveness of your presence. “


“It is a fact of human nature that the structure of a court society forms itself around power. “

“It is a wise thing to be polite; consequently, it is a stupid thing to be rude. “

“There is a paradox: You cannot display yourself too brazenly, yet you must also get yourself noticed. “

“Be self-observant. The mirror is a miraculous invention; without it you would commit great sins against beauty and decorum. You also need a mirror for your actions. “

“During one of Alexander’s major campaigns, Callisthenes spoke his mind one too many times and Alexander had him put to death. “

“Among the listings of earthquakes and floods, there would sometimes suddenly appear descriptions of such bizarre manifestations as two-headed sheep, geese flying backward, stars suddenly appearing in different parts of the sky, and so on. “

“When you criticize him he sees the person criticizing, not the criticism itself. “

“His particular skill was to show the king plans that purposely included something imperfect about them, often dealing with the gardens, which were not Mansart’s specialty. “

“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. “

“When Isabey arrived in Vienna, Talleyrand, the main negotiator for the French, paid the artist a visit. Considering his role in the proceedings, the statesman explained, he expected to occupy center stage in the painting. Isabey cordially agreed. “

“Since trimness of figure was an important quality for a dandy, this was a withering criticism. “

“You can never be too obsequious with your master. Taste is one of the ego’s prickliest parts; never impugn or question the master’s taste—his poetry is sublime, his dress impeccable, and his manner the model for all. “

“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. “

“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. “

“It is the master’s prerogative to give—to give when he wants and what he wants, and to do so without prompting. Do not give him the chance to reject your requests. “

“It inevitably made everything around it seem dull. “

“It’s a good picture, but I think it needs something in the foreground—a sheep, perhaps. “

“It is always beneficial to play the obliging courtier, even when you are not serving a master. “

“I should be delighted, mon général, the minister replied, and since my house is close to the Bois de Boulogne, you will be able to amuse yourself with a bit of shooting in the afternoon. “

“I’m not Louis XVI, I surely won’t kill even one rabbit. Yet that afternoon, strangely enough, the park was teeming with rabbits. “

“It is a delicate game you play; apply the utmost attention to covering your tracks, and never let your master unmask you. “


“As he slowly rose to attain the position of consul, his popularity among the masses served as the foundation of his power. “

“And in 45 B. C. , timing his entry into the city for maximum effect and surprise, Caesar brought Cleopatra back to Rome after his Egyptian campaign, and staged even more extravagant public spectacles. “

“When he appeared before crowds he wore the most spectacular purple robes. He would be upstaged by no one. “

“Like him, you must learn to enlarge your actions through dramatic techniques such as surprise, suspense, the creation of sympathy, and symbolic identification. Also like him, you must be constantly aware of your audience—of what will please them and what will bore them. “

“In Paris she would establish her independence and make her living by writing. Soon after Dudevant arrived in the capital, however, she had to confront certain harsh realities. To have any degree of freedom in Paris you had to have money. For a woman, money could only come through marriage or prostitution. “

“The world wants to assign you a role in life. And once you accept that role you are doomed. “

“The Promethean task of the powerful is to take control of the process, to stop allowing others that ability to limit and mold them. “

“Great rulers from Napoleon to Mao Tse-tung have used theatrical timing to surprise and divert their public. “

“Remember that overacting can be counterproductive—it is another way of spending too much effort trying to attract attention. “


“If I do not put you to death, there will be a mutiny. “

“Once it became clear that the delay was a critical mistake, and that the army was seething with mutiny, Ts‘ao Ts’ao had two options: apology and excuses, or a scapegoat. “

“The ferocity of this scene left the people at once stunned and satisfied. “

“With Ts’ao Ts’ao, the scapegoat was an entirely innocent man; in the Romagna, he was the offensive weapon in Cesare’s arsenal that let him get the dirty work done without bloodying his own hands. “

“The use of scapegoats is as old as civilization itself, and examples of it can be found in cultures around the world. “

“It is important that you remain the victim, the poor leader betrayed by the incompetence of those around you. “

“Even Ptolemy XIII had not dared murder Cleopatra, although he knew she would plot against him from abroad. “

“She [Cleopatra] employed on a second Roman leader, Marc Antony, the same tactics she had used so well on Julius Caesar. “

“The two men became her cat’s-paws. “

“Mao was far too clever to let anger spoil the chance to kill two birds with one stone. “

“Well, since you like it so much, I hope you will do me the favor of accepting it. “

“A favor done indirectly and elegantly has ten times more power. “

“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. They know how to find the right people to put in the effort while they save their energy and keep their hands out of the fire. “

“The easiest and most effective way to use a cat’s-paw is often to plant information with him that he will then spread to your primary target. “

“If you can make your assistance subtle and gracious rather than boastful and burdensome, your recompense will be that much the more satisfying and powerful. “

“If you have to use a cat’s-paw or a scapegoat in an action of great consequence, be very careful: Too much can go wrong. “

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“The great European charlatans of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries mastered the art of cultmaking. They lived, as we do now, in a time of transformation: Organized religion was on the wane, science on the rise. People were desperate to rally around a new cause or faith. “

“You need to amuse the bored, then, and ward off the cynics. “

“Use the exotic—distant cultures, strange customs—to create theatrical effects, and to make the most banal and ordinary affairs seem signs of something extraordinary. “

“In the year 1653, a twenty-seven-year-old Milan man named Francesco Giuseppe Borri claimed to have had a vision. “

“Only the great are persecuted, after all; how many understood Jesus Christ in his own time. “

“Before he formed his cult, Borri seems to have stumbled on a critical discovery. Tiring of his life of debauchery, he had decided to give it up and to devote himself to the occult, a genuine interest of his. “

“Country people had a sense for these things, he would say—their wisdom came from living a simple, godly life with none of the complications of urban living. “

“One stands or sits in company, one plays cards, sometimes with a young woman; now a concert is given, now a lunch or supper, and now a little ballet is presented. “

“Where the normal drugs of the time created fear and pain, Schüppach’s treatments were comfortable and soothing. The resulting improvement in the patient’s mood was a critical element in the cures he brought about. “

“Soon Parisians of all classes (but mostly women, who seemed more attracted to the idea than men did) were paying for entry to witness the miracles that Mesmer promised. “

“Many women would later attribute the strange power he had on them to his piercing look, which, they thought, was exciting or quieting the magnetic fluids in their bodies. “

“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. “

“One reason to create a following is that a group is often easier to deceive than an individual, and turns over to you that much more power. “


“The bold move makes you seem larger and more powerful than you are. If it comes suddenly, with the stealth and swiftness of a snake, it inspires that much more fear. “

“Gentlemen, this is an urgent matter that requires complete secrecy. The government is going to have to tear down the Eiffel Tower. “

“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. “

“The boyars—the boyars—secretly rejoiced: For years the dukes of Moscow had been trying to extend their authority over the boyars’ turf. “

“You need to establish your authority and gain respect, but the moment the boyars sense your growing boldness, they will act to thwart you. This is how Ivan met such a situation: He lay low, showing neither ambition nor discontent. “

“What nature took away, Raphael has with his art restored. “

“The bolder the attack, the more you stand out from the crowd, and the more admiration you earn. “

“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 self-consciousness. “

“Few are born bold. Even Napoleon had to cultivate the habit on the battlefield, where he knew it was a matter of life and death. “

“Since boldness is a learned response, it is also one that you learn to control and utilize at will. “


“There was only one solution. “

“When he asked where these had come from, the Indians pointed south, to the land of the Incas. “

“A real man of power would have had the prudence to see the dangers in the distance—the rivals who would want to share in the conquests, the vultures that would hover once they heard the word gold. “

“The world began to see that Austria was weakening and that Prussia was on the rise. “

“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. “

“The person who goes too far in his triumphs creates a reaction that inevitably leads to a decline. “

“Most people believe that they are in fact aware of the future, that they are planning and thinking ahead. They are usually deluded: What they are really doing is succumbing to their desires, to what they want the future to be. Their plans are vague, based on their imaginations rather than their reality. “

“When you see several steps ahead, and plan your moves all the way to the end, you will no longer be tempted by emotion or by the desire to improvise. “

“It is easier never to have been born than to try to get rid of what we have been born with. “

“If you are clear- and far-thinking enough, you will understand that the future is uncertain, and that you must be open to adaptation. “


“If the owner of the house had put this much effort into one gate, it would show in his tea ceremony—and indeed Sen no Rikyu had to leave the ceremony early, unable to endure the affectation and effort it inadvertently revealed. “

“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. “

“The gate came from too far away, the cutting of the lemon looked contrived. “

“The Impossible Possible. “

“Houdini did not mind all kinds of speculation floating around about his methods, but he would not tolerate an outright lie, and in 1902 he challenged Kleppini to a handcuff duel. “

“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. “

“Whereas … to labor at what one is doing and … to make bones over it, shows an extreme lack of grace and causes everything, whatever its worth, to be discounted. “

“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. “

“The secrecy with which you surround your actions must seem lighthearted in spirit. A zeal to conceal your work creates an unpleasant, almost paranoiac impression: you are taking the game too seriously. “


“The greatest limit to his authority came from the boyars, the Russian princely class that dominated the country and terrorized the peasantry. “

“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. “

“The life of the courtesan entailed the possibility of a power that was denied a married woman, but it also had obvious perils. The man who paid for the courtesan’s services in essence owned her, determining when he could possess her and when, later on, he would abandon her. “

“When examined closely, the choices we have—in the marketplace, in elections, in our jobs—tend to have noticeable limitations: They are often a matter of a choice simply between A and B, with the rest of the alphabet out of the picture. “

“In this tactic your opponents know their hand is being forced, but it doesn’t matter. The technique is effective against those who resist at all costs. “

“Understand: In your struggles with your rivals, it will often be necessary for you to hurt them. And if you are clearly the agent of their punishment, expect a counterattack—expect revenge. If, however, they seem to themselves to be the agents of their own misfortune, they will submit quietly. “

“The tactic works best, then, for those whose power is fragile, and who cannot operate too openly without incurring suspicion, resentment, and anger. Even as a general rule, however, it is rarely wise to be seen as exerting power directly and forcefully, no matter how secure or strong you are. “


“In the sixteenth century their fortunes suddenly changed. The opening of the New World transferred power to the Atlantic side of Europe—to the Spanish and Portuguese, and later the Dutch and English. “

“Most of the senators agreed to wait to reap the gold mine Bragadino promised. “

“Such is the power of the fantasies that take root in us, especially in times of scarcity and decline. People rarely believe that their problems arise from their own misdeeds and stupidity. “

“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 of the exotic, of course, can also skirt the sexual. It must not come too close, though, for the physical hinders the power of fantasy; it can be seen, grasped, and then tired of—the fate of most courtesans. “

“Never make the mistake of imagining that fantasy is always fantastical. It certainly contrasts with reality, but reality itself is sometimes so theatrical and stylized that fantasy becomes a desire for simple things. “


“Some people wear their weaknesses openly, others disguise them. Those who disguise them are often the ones most effectively undone through that one chink in their armor. “

“Pay Attention to Gestures and Unconscious Signals. As Sigmund Freud remarked, No mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore. “

“Find the Weak Link. Sometimes in your search for weaknesses it is not what but who that matters. “

“If everyone was deserting Marie de Médicis, he would stand by her. He knew Louis could not get rid of her, for the king was still very young, and had in any case always been inordinately attached to her. “

“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. “

“When entering the court, find the weak link. The person in control is often not the king or queen; it is someone behind the scenes—the favorite, the husband or wife, even the court fool. “

“It matters little what you pay me. You are, after all, going to recover the amount within a few days by duplicating your own bills. “

“When searching for suckers, always look for the dissatisfied, the unhappy, the insecure. “

“When Francis died the next year, Catherine took control of the country as regent to her next son in line of succession, the future Charles IX, a mere ten years old at the time. “

“It was Catherine’s strategy to turn this weakness to her advantage, using it as a way to conquer and control men. “

“Only one man of consequence treated her differently: the dealer Joseph Duveen. “

“People’s need for validation and recognition, their need to feel important, is the best kind of weakness to exploit. “

“The great questions of the time will be decided, not by speeches and resolutions of majorities, but by iron and blood. “

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

“When you play on people’s weaknesses, the areas over which they have least control, you can unleash emotions that will upset your plans. “

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“When Louis-Philippe invited James Rothschild, the most important banker in France, to his palace, he treated him as an equal. “

“On the night of February 23, a crowd of Parisians surrounded the palace. With a suddenness that caught everyone by surprise, Louis-Philippe abdicated that very evening and fled to England. “

“Powerful people may be tempted to affect a common-man aura, trying to create the illusion that they and their subjects or underlings are basically the same. But the people whom this false gesture is intended to impress will quickly see through it. “

“When Columbus finished his pitch, João II smiled: He politely declined the offer, but left the door open for the future. “

“Some, such as the powerful duke of Medina, wanted to help, but could not, since they lacked the power to grant him the titles and rights he wanted. “

“With Columbus, then, they felt an instant affinity, for he carried himself just the way they did—elevated above the crowd, destined for greatness. “

“Be overcome by your self-belief. Even while you know you are practicing a kind of deception on yourself, act like a king. “

“There were already people around him who felt he would someday rise to the top, for he acted as if he were already there. “

“Never make the mistake of thinking that you elevate yourself by humiliating people. “


“Patiently waiting for his chance, he kept his options open. And when the French Revolution broke out, in 1789, Fouché waited no longer: He got rid of his cassock, grew his hair long, and became a revolutionary. “

“Taking sides with what was about to become the losing team was a risky gambit, of course, but Fouché must have calculated he could keep his head long enough to quietly stir up the populace against the moderates and watch them fall from power. “

“Fouché, his nose always sniffing the air for the next social shift, knew Louis would not last long—he had none of Napoleon’s flair. “

“When the times were against Fouché, he did not struggle, get emotional, or strike out rashly. He kept his cool and maintained a low profile, patiently building support among the citizenry, the bulwark in his next rise to power. “

“Since we have constructed the concept of time, we are also able to mold it to some degree, to play tricks with it. “

“When you force the pace out of fear and impatience, you create a nest of problems that require fixing, and you end up taking much longer than if you had taken your time. “

“Plotting your campaign against Uzun, he had seen that diverting his armies to the east would leave his western flank vulnerable. “

“The slower the story is told, the shorter it seems. “


“After a few years of bitter fighting, however, General Carranza emerged as the victor in the Revolution; the defeated Villa and his troops went back home, to the northern state of Chihuahua. His army dwindled and he turned to banditry again, damaging his popularity. “

“The Punitive Expedition was being punished itself—it had turned into a retreat of the most humiliating sort. “

“The longer the expedition took, the more it focused attention on the Americans’ incompetence and on Villa’s cleverness. Soon what was forgotten was not Villa but the raid that had started it all. “

“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. “

“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. “

“When you pay attention to a person, the two of you become partners of sorts, each moving in step to the actions and reactions of the other. In the process you lose your initiative. “

“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. “

“In trying to fix one problem, he created another: a paranoia for security that in the end was much more destructive to the government. “

“When you are attacked by an inferior, deflect people’s attention by making it clear that the attack has not even registered. Look away, or answer sweetly, showing how little the attack concerns you. “

“You must play the card of contempt with care and delicacy. Most small troubles will vanish on their own if you leave them be; but some will grow and fester unless you attend to them. “


“As the line edged closer to the stairs, the sick would hear shouts and cries from above, and word would spread of, perhaps, a blind gentleman suddenly able to see. “

“Simply by associating himself with the image of the moon, the doctor gained power. “

“At first their union seemed merely platonic, with Henri showing an intensely spiritual devotion to Diane. “

“For a woman like Diane to identify herself with this goddess would instantly call up those images in the court, giving her an air of respectability. “

“Most astute of all was Diane’s appropriation of the goddess Diana. Here she took the game beyond physical imagery into the realm of the psychic symbol. It was quite a feat to transform a king’s mistress into an emblem of power and purity, but she managed it. “

“Words put you on the defensive. If you have to explain yourself your power is already in question. The image, on the other hand, imposes itself as a given. It discourages questions, creates forceful associations, resists unintended interpretations, communicates instantly, and forges bonds that transcend social differences. “

“Since the eye predominates, people will respond more to the color than to the word. “

“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. “


“He [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. “

“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. “

“The Church had promoted such superstitions, he wrote, to control the common folk by keeping them in fear. Such ideas verged on atheism, and Campanella expressed them incautiously. “

“The arguments in the mouths of the heretics had never before been expressed with such verve and freshness. “

“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. Martyrdom serves no purpose—better to live on in an oppressive world, even to thrive in it. “

“Most of us believe what we want to, then, but on the outside we wear a mask. “

“The public may have loved him but scientists shunned him. His disrespect for his community’s orthodoxies left him isolated, and he wasted years trying to heal the breach, and struggling for funding and cooperation. “

“When you go into society, leave behind your own ideas and values, and put on the mask that is most appropriate for the group in which you find yourself. “

“Since no one else either could or would claim such a privilege, Johnson was showing people that he did not have to observe the protocols and niceties of others. “


“For these ministers, treason has begun when they permit themselves to doubt. “

“It is only the cold-blooded animals whose bite is poisonous. “

“Before Selassie had ordered Gugsa to fight the Azebu Gallas, he had secured the support of the Ethiopian church. “

“When the waters are still, your opponents have the time and space to plot actions that they will initiate and control. “

“An angry action would have called attention to the generals’ disloyalty, which would have harmed the troops’ morale. “

“Anger only cuts off our options, and the powerful cannot thrive without options. “

“When playing with people’s emotions you have to be careful. Study the enemy beforehand: Some fish are best left at the bottom of the pond. “


“The powerful learn early to protect their most valuable resources: independence and room to maneuver. By paying the full price, they keep themselves free of dangerous entanglements and worries. “

“Unless you resist them they will infect you with the insecure feeling that you should have looked harder to find a cheaper price. “

“soon word of mouth transformed El Dorado, the Golden Man, into an empire called El Dorado, wealthier than the Incan, where the streets were paved and the buildings inlaid with gold. “

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

“The duke, having led successful campaigns against the French, was considered Europe’s premier general and strategist. And his wife, the duchess, after much maneuvering, had established herself as the favorite of Queen Anne, who became ruler of England in 1702. “

“The duchess thought Vanbrugh was out to ruin her. She quibbled over every carload of stone and bushel of lime, counted every extra yard of iron railing or foot of wainscot, hurling abuse at the wasteful workmen, contractors, and surveyors. “

“For the Duchess of Marlborough, money was a way to play sadistic power games. She saw the loss of money as a symbolic loss of power. “

“Since in Renaissance Italy as elsewhere the ability to spend freely was the privilege of the rich, the aristocracy thought Aretino had to be a man of influence, since he spent money like one. “

“Since the exchange of gifts between the two men had made them equals, it would not seem right to bring up money. “

“Rothschild’s weekly soirees began to attract bigger and bigger numbers. Over the next few years he won the only thing that would secure an outsider’s power: social acceptance. “

“The best way to overcome this was literally to waste huge sums, a gesture to show he valued French culture and society over money. “

“Whenever Lorenzo faced an enemy, he would wield the weapon of patronage. When Pisa, Florence’s traditional enemy, threatened to rebel against it in 1472, Lorenzo placated its people by pouring money into its university, which had once been its pride and joy but had long ago lost its luster. “

“The more often you give to particular people, the blunter this weapon becomes. “

“It’s just an ordinary cup of Bizen ware,, he explained, and it is not valuable at all. The reason I was looking at it was that the steam seemed to hang about it strangely and I wondered if there wasn’t a leak somewhere. “

“Soon word spread of Fushimiya’s purchase of the teacup. Every dealer in Japan clamored for him to sell it, since a cup he had bought for 100 ryo must be worth much more. “

“The story shows, first, an essential aspect of money: That it is humans who have created it and humans who instill it with meaning and value. “

“What an ignoramus you are! A tea bowl that anyone asks 100 pieces of gold for can only be a family heirloom, and a thing like that is only sold when the family is pressed for money. And in that case they will be hoping to find someone who will give even 150 pieces for it. “

“There, he said, a horse has come out of the gourd. “

“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 powerful never forget that what is offered for free is inevitably a trick. “


“In the first years of his reign, Louis gave himself over to pleasure, leaving the government in the hands of a trusted minister, André-Hercule de Fleury. “

“The symbol of his power was Versailles: Refusing to accept the palace of his forefathers, the Louvre, he built his own palace in what was then the middle of nowhere, symbolizing that this was a new order he had founded, one without precedent. “

“It would be better to avoid the situation altogether, to place yourself where there is a vacuum of power, where you can be the one to bring order out of chaos without having to compete with another star in the sky. “

“against astounding odds, Alexander conquered the Persians. Most expected him to stop there—it was a great triumph, enough to secure his fame for eternity. “

“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. “

“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. “

“When Pericles of Athens was about to launch a career as a statesman, he looked for the one thing 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. “

“When our power is secure we have no need to act. “

“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. “

“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. “


“The Athenians understood that these people, if left alone, would sow dissension, divide the city into factions, and stir up anxieties, all of which could lead to the ruin of their democracy. “

“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. “

“Before you know what hit you the dissatisfaction spreads. “

“Once in power, Boniface quickly crushed his rivals and unified the Papal States. “

“And so, even as on the one hand he threatened Florence with Charles de Valois, on the other he held out the olive branch, the possibility of negotiations, hoping Dante would take the bait. “

“So he isolated the troublemaker. Without the backbone of the city to keep them together, the sheep quickly scattered. “

“Power has changed in its numbers but not in its essence. “

“Remember: This makes them vulnerable. “

“It would have been far wiser to keep a man like Grant in the fold, where he could do less harm, than to make him revengeful. “

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“When the king’s grandson and chosen successor, the future Louis XVI, married the fifteen-year-old daughter of the empress of Austria, the French caught a glimpse of the future that seemed hopeful. “

“She had become the world’s pariah. “

“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. “

“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. “

“If you capture me again, I will not release you. “

“He has commissioned me to release you. Mobilize another army against him, if you can, and try once more to defeat him. “

“The first option may be quick and easy, but over time it brews ugly emotions in the hearts of the vanquished. Their resentment turns to hatred; such animosity keeps you on edge—you spend your energy protecting what you have gained, growing paranoid and defensive. “

“The key to persuasion is softening people up and breaking them down, gently. Seduce them with a two-pronged approach: Work on their emotions and play on their intellectual weaknesses. “

“A committed, psychologically motivated soldier would fight harder and more creatively than a puppet. “


“In using Mirror Effects we symbolically re-create this disturbing power by mirroring the actions of other people, mimicking their movements to unsettle and infuriate them. Made to feel mocked, cloned, objectlike, an image without a soul, they get angry. “

“The power of verbal argument is extremely limited, and often accomplishes the opposite of what is intended. As Gracián remarks, The truth is generally seen, rarely heard. The Moral Effect is a perfect way to demonstrate your ideas through action. “

“The Hallucinatory Effect. Mirrors are tremendously deceptive, for they create a sense that you are looking at the real world. Actually, though, you are only staring at a piece of glass, which, as everyone knows, cannot show the world exactly as it is: Everything in a mirror is reversed. “

“At first this had seemed somewhat pleasant and charming, but after a while it frustrated Napoleon, who felt outdone by this slippery man. “

“Fouché had known for years that Napoleon kept on top of those around him by spying on them day and night. 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. “

“By playing the double, you steal their thunder, suck away their initiative, make them feel helpless. You also gain the ability to choose when and how to unsettle them—another avenue to power. “

“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. “

“While Alcibiades was leading the invasion of Sicily, however, certain Athenians fabricated charges against him of profaning sacred statues. “

“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. “

“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. To begin with she immersed herself in the romantic novels, poems, and plays that she knew the young king read voraciously. “

“First, she took a step back, to study her prey. Seduction often fails to get past the first step because it is too aggressive; the first move must always be a retreat. “

“When Ivan was thirteen, he boldly murdered the boyar leader and ascended to the throne. For the next few decades he struggled to subdue the boyars’ power, but they continued to defy him. By 1575 his efforts to transform Russia and defeat its enemies had exhausted him. “

“If he raised his voice or complained, he only met more resistance. He had to teach them a lesson, give them a taste of their own medicine. Simeon Bekbulatovich was the mirror he used to do so. “

“When Dr. Erickson treated married couples complaining of sexual problems, for instance, he often found that psychotherapy’s tradition of direct confrontation and problem-airing only heightened the spouses’ resistance and sharpened their differences. “

“Communication depends on metaphors and symbols, which are the basis of language itself. A metaphor is a kind of mirror to the concrete and real, which it often expresses more clearly and deeply than a literal description does. “

“But since it should always be one’s aim to conform to the wishes of one’s host, I fell into the hole knowingly and thus assured the success of the meeting. “

“The wordless communication, the indirect compliment, contains the most power. No one can resist the enchantment of the Courtier’s Mirror. “

“Most audacious of all was his re-creation of a bank in Muncie, Indiana. “

“Remember: Study the world’s surfaces and learn to mirror them in your habits, your manner, your clothes. “

“Most often you suffer by the comparison, seeming either weaker than the previous occupant of your position or else tainted by any unpleasant associations that person has left behind. “


“In 1534 Cromwell had been named the king’s secretary, and as the power behind the throne he had become the most powerful man in England. “

“It was now Cromwell’s turn to watch uneasily as the king began slowly to undo his reforms, reinstating Catholic sacraments and other rituals that Cromwell had outlawed. “

“Reform is upsetting to the human animal, even when it is for the good. “

“The solution, as Mao saw it, involved a simple deception: Cloak the revolution in the clothing of the past, making it comforting and legitimate in people’s eyes. “

“Mao associated himself, on the other hand, with the ancient philosophical movement known as Legalism, exemplified by the writings of Han-fei-tzu. “

“Instead of struggling against the past, he turned it to his advantage, associating his radical Communists with the romantic figures of Chinese history. “

“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. “

“The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities. “

“When Napoleon came to power, the French Revolution was fresh in everyone’s minds. If the court that he established had borne any resemblance to the lavish court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, his courtiers would have spent all their time worrying about their own necks. “


“In the 1950s he [Orton] had supported me with his inheritance; now Orton supported him. At a party or among friends, people would naturally gravitate towards Orton—he was charming, and his mood was almost always buoyant. “

“If you read Orton’s diary all will be explained. “

“The diaries made clear Halliwell’s bitterness over Orton’s success. Eventually the only thing that would have satisfied him would have been for Orton to have a failure of his own, an unsuccessful play perhaps, so that they could have commiserated in their failure, as they had done years before. “

“The 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. “

“sometimes, he knew, it is wiser to bide one’s time and keep a low profile. “

“while he worked behind the scenes to gain control, however, publicly Cosimo presented another picture. When he walked through the streets of Florence, he dressed modestly, was attended by no more than one servant, and bowed deferentially to magistrates and elder citizens. “

“Never be so foolish as to believe that you are stirring up admiration by flaunting the qualities that raise you above others. 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. “

“Since it is far easier to avoid creating envy in the first place than to get rid of it once it is there, you should strategize to forestall it before it grows. “

“In the end, the reason he was executed was treason, but envy will use any cover it finds to mask its destructiveness. “

“When Archbishop de Retz was promoted to the rank of cardinal, in 1651, he knew full well that many of his former colleagues envied him. “

“Remember: It is the reality that matters. You may have to play games with appearances, but in the end you will have what counts: true power. “

“The reason for being careful with the envious is that they are so indirect, and will find innumerable ways to undermine you. But treading carefully around them will often only make their envy worse. “


“Now listen to me, and I will advise you for your own good: Give me back my son and leave my country with your forces intact, and be content with your triumph over a third part of the Massagetai. “

“After the battle, Tomyris and her soldiers searched the battlefield for Cyrus’s corpse. “

“There is nothing more intoxicating than victory, and nothing more dangerous. “

“Since the source of her power was usually her physical beauty, for most royal mistresses that fall was inevitable and unpleasant. “

“She became the untitled minister of foreign affairs. “

“She [Madame de Pompadour] succeeded where all others had failed because she never pressed her good fortune. Instead of bullying the courtiers from her powerful position as the king’s mistress, she tried to win their support. She never revealed the slightest hint of greed or arrogance. “

“Like Madame de Pompadour, you need to realize that your moment of triumph is also a moment when you have to rely on cunning and strategy all the more, consolidating your power base, recognizing the role of luck and circumstance in your success, and remaining vigilant against changes in your good fortune. “

“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. First, you owe your success to a pattern that you are apt to try to repeat. “

“When you beat an enemy, then, make your victory complete. “


“The solution to their problem, however, brought a new, more formidable one: How could they maintain and police their conquered territories. The subordinate peoples they ruled now outnumbered them ten to one. “

“Their society was in constant flux. And as their power grew, they came to pose a threat to the defense-minded Spartans. “

“In facing a serious problem—controlling superior numbers—Sparta reacted like an animal that develops 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. “

“When World War II ended and the Japanese, who had invaded China in 1937, had finally been thrown out, the Chinese Nationalists, lead by Chiang Kai-shek, decided the time had come to annihilate the Chinese Communists, their hated rivals, once and for all. “

“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. “

“In chess the board is small. In comparison to go, the attack comes relatively quickly, forcing a decisive battle. It rarely pays to withdraw, or to sacrifice your pieces, which must be concentrated at key areas. Go is much less formal. “

“Every Chinese, Mao once wrote, should consciously throw himself into this war of a jigsaw 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. “

“The powerful are often people who in their youth have shown immense creativity in expressing something new through a new form. Society grants them power because it hungers for and rewards this sort of newness. The problem comes later, when they often grow conservative and possessive. “

“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. “

“A queen is in a radically different position from a king; because she is a woman, her subjects and courtiers are likely to doubt her ability to rule, her strength of character. “

“The more gigantic the enemy, the easier it is to induce collapse. “

“Remember: Formlessness is a tool. 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. “

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