Consider The 48 Laws of Power a kind of handbook

 Consider The 48 Laws of Power a kind of handbook on the arts of indirection. The laws are based on the writings of men and women who have
studied and mastered the game of power. These writings span a period of
more than three thousand years and were created in civilizations as disparate as ancient China and Renaissance Italy; yet they share common
threads and themes, together hinting at an essence of power that has yet to
be fully articulated. The 48 laws of power are the distillation of this accumulated wisdom, gathered from the writings of the most illustrious strategists (Sun-tzu, Clausewitz), statesmen (Bismarck, Talleyrand), courtiers
(Castiglione, Graciän), seducers (Ninon de Lenclos, Casanova),

 and con
artists ("Yellow Kid" Weil) in history.
The laws have a simple premise: Certain actions almost always increase one's power (the observance of the law), while 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.
The 48 Laws of Power can be used in several ways. By reading the book
straight through you can leam about power in general. Although several of
the laws may seem not to pertain directly to your life, in time you will
probably find that all of them have some application, and that in fact they
are interrelated. 

By getting an overview of the entire subject you will best
be able to evaluate your own past actions and gain a greater degree of control over your immediate affairs. A thorough reading of the book will inspire thinking and reevaluation long after you finish it.
The book has also been designed for browsing and for examining the
law that seems at that particular moment most pertinent to you. Say you
are experiencing problems with a superior and cannot understand why
YOUf efforts have not lead to more gratitude or a promotion. Several laws
specifically address the master-underling relationship, and you are almost
certainly transgressing one of them. By browsing the initial paragraphs for
the 48 laws in the table of contents, you can identify the pertinent law.
Finally, the book can be browsed through and picked apart for entertainment, for an enjoyable ride through the foibles and great deeds of our
predecessors in power

. A warning, however, to those who use the book for
this purpose: It might be better to turn back. Power is endlessly seductive
and deceptive in its own way. It is a labyrinth-your mind becomes consumed with solving its infinite problems, and you so on realize how pleasantly lost you have become. In other words, it becomes most amusing by
taking it seriously. Do not be frivolous with such a critical matter. The gods
of power frown on the frivolous; they give ultimate satisfaction only to
those who study and reflect, and punish those who skim the surfaces looking for a good time.
Any man who tries to be good alt the time is bound to come to ruin
among the great number who are not good. Hence a prince who wants
to keep his authority must leam how not to be good, and use that
knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires.
THE PRINCE, Niccolo Machiavelli, 7469-7527

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