What Is The Difference?
The Prince is a classic book on power written by Machiavelli many years ago. It covers general strategies for getting and maintaining power. The 48 Laws Of Power was written very recently by Robert Greene. It covers different power ‘rules’ that are very applicable today. It draws on many books, including the Prince to create these laws.
The 48 Laws Of Power
The 48 Laws of Power is a book written to educate people on the behaviors of the powerful. By studying and applying those behaviors you can recognize the games being played and either avoid traps or effectively engage in battle.
The 48 Laws include rules like “Plan all the way to the end.” They also include rules like “Learn to keep people dependent on you.” These rules are analyzed and expounded upon. Each chapter has stories, quotes, analysis, and potential situations where the law’s opposite side applies.
Some laws are more abstract, but even the abstract sections usually have an explicit piece of advice on how to apply the law. For example, the law on not outshining the master suggests that you make your masters appear more impressive than you but doing things like attributing parts of your success to their council.
See our summary here for more depth.
The Prince is a book written by Niccolo Machiavelli, a politician. He wrote to the leader of the time, though some have argued that it was a book that exposed the methods of the powerful to the people as much as it taught the powerful how to keep power.
Like our comparison of the Art of War, this book is more abstract and focused on its time. It speaks of types of armies and principalities. These only have value to use as abstract or metaphorical ways to draw out strategic truths. For example, Machiavelli talks about using mercenaries which are dangerous and unreliable. This probably doesn’t have much use for you directly, but we can draw an analogy to our lives. Mainly be careful when your plans rely on other people who don’t have a reliable character or a true ‘dog in the fight.’
Some of these chapters have value directly, like the ones that talk about how a prince should behave. For example a prince should choose advisors that don’t just flatter them but are actually wise, and it is better to be hated than loved if you must choose one.
Overall this book should be read eventually in your quest for personal power, but it probably isn’t the most efficient one to read.
Which Is Better For Making You More Powerful?
The winner here goes to the 48 Laws Of Power, mostly because of the sheer quantity of useful information. See our detailed summary here. In many instances the 48 Laws captures the ideas written about in the Prince, but the Prince misses out on many ideas covered by the 48 Laws.
We do suggest reading both at some point because each make unique contributions.