I was basically told that I HAD to read this book, and not just read it, but study it. I was expecting something different, more of a how-to succeed book written by some over-confident millionaire, not something so heavily grounded in classical histories.
The chapters are divided into each of the 48 laws, starting with a title page that has a quote or excerpt, then a list of transgressions of the law and observances of the law, and in some cases, also where there could be a reversal. It also had words formed into shapes (in red text) and sidebars that took up an inch on either side of the page, sometimes with entire short stories excerpted. I really loved those. I loved all the little quotes and stories, and found the words printed in the form of circles or triangles or whatnot to be delightful.
But of course, everyone wants to comment on the content, not on the form. Yes, some of the laws are good advice for everyone, such as “keep your true opinion to yourself” and some were a little sketchier, such as “steal others’ work.” Who, when knowing the full true story of Edison and Tesla, wouldn’t see Edison as an evil snake who maligned and abused one of the great minds of century? Others seem a little contradictory, such as “pretend to be dumber than your mark” and “act like a king to be treated like a king.”
So, I’m not sure this is such a great advice book. Power is important for kings and conmen, and while it’s useful for the rest of us, for much of us it’s not our main goal in life. It’s more of a “how to not be taken in by snakes” rather than “how to be a snake.” I hope. For me, anyway.
But I sure loved all the little stories from antiquity.