Jump to content

Robert Greene (American author)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Robert Greene
Born (1959-05-14) May 14, 1959 (age 65)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
EducationUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
Notable works
PartnerAnna Biller

Robert Greene (born May 14, 1959) is an American author of books on strategy, power, and seduction.[1][2] He has written seven international bestsellers, including The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, The 50th Law (with rapper 50 Cent), Mastery, The Laws of Human Nature, and The Daily Laws.[3]

Greene states that he does not try to follow all of his advice as, "Anybody who did would be a horrible ugly person to be around."[4]

Early life[edit]

The younger son of Jewish parents,[4] Greene grew up in Los Angeles and attended the University of California, Berkeley, before finishing his degree at the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a B.A. degree in classical studies.[5] Prior to becoming an author, Greene estimates that he worked about 50 jobs, including as a construction worker, translator, magazine editor, and Hollywood movie writer.[6] In 1995, Greene worked as a writer at Fabrica, an art and media school in Italy, and met a book packager named Joost Elffers.[1] Greene pitched a book about power to Elffers and wrote a treatment which eventually became The 48 Laws of Power. He would note this as the turning point of his life.[7]


Cover art for The 48 Laws of Power

Greene has published seven books. He is the most banned author in prisons in the United States.[8] Many prisons ban his books as a security measure.[9][10]

The 48 Laws of Power[edit]

Greene's first book, The 48 Laws of Power, first published in 1998, presents itself as a guide for anyone who wants power, observes power, or wants to arm themselves against power. The laws are derived from the lives of strategists and historical figures like Niccolò Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Haile Selassie I, Carl von Clausewitz, Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Kissinger, and P.T. Barnum.[11] Each law has its own chapter, complete with a "transgression of the law," "observance of the law," and/or a "reversal."

The idea behind Greene's first book is that power is amoral, i.e., it is neither good or evil. The 48 Laws of Power highlights how we conceptualize power and how we behave in different hierarchical institutions.[12]

The 48 Laws of Power has sold more than 1.2 million copies[13] and has been referenced by 50 Cent, Jay-Z, Quincy “QD3" Jones III, Chris Lighty, Lyor Cohen, Kevin Liles, Michael Jackson,[14] Courtney Love,[15] and Will Smith,.[1][3][6][16][17][18] Busta Rhymes used The 48 Laws of Power to deal with problematic movie producers.[6] It has been mentioned in songs by Jay Z, Kanye West, and Drake and in videos by The Kid LAROI and Central Cee.[3][19][20][21][22] Greene has claimed former Cuban President Fidel Castro had also read the book.[1]

The Sunday Times noted that The 48 Laws of Power has become the "Hollywood back-stabber's bible" and that although the book is reportedly used by some business executives, it is difficult to find people who publicly acknowledge its influence because of the book's controversial nature.[23][24] Greene responds to this sentiment by stating, "These laws… people might say, 'Oh they're wicked', but they're practiced day in and day out by businesspeople. You're always trying to get rid of your competition and it can be pretty bloodthirsty, and that's just the reality."[5][16]

Drake is producing a cinematic series on the book.[25]

The Art of Seduction[edit]

Greene's second book, The Art of Seduction, was published in 2001.[26] The book profiles the nine types of seducers (e.g. The Rake, The Siren, and The Charmer) and details aspects of attraction, authenticity, storytelling, and negotiation.[27][28] Greene uses examples from historical figures such as Cleopatra, Giacomo Casanova, Duke Ellington and John F. Kennedy to support the psychology behind seduction.[29][30] It has sold more than 500,000 copies.[31]

The 33 Strategies of War[edit]

The 33 Strategies of War is the third book by Greene and was published in 2007.[32] The book is divided into five parts: Self-Directed Warfare, Organizational (Team) Warfare, Defensive Warfare, Offensive Warfare and Unconventional (Dirty) Warfare.[32] The book is a guide to the campaign of everyday life and distills military wisdom from historical figures like Napoleon Bonaparte, Sun Tzu, Alfred Hitchcock, Alexander the Great and Margaret Thatcher.[33][34][35]

The Sunday Times called the book "an excellent toolkit for dealing with business and relationships," and The Independent claims that Greene is "setting himself up as a modern-day Machiavelli" but that "it is never clear whether he really believes what he writes or whether it is just his shtick, an instrument of his will to shift £20 hardbacks."[36][37] NBA player Chris Bosh stated that his favorite book is The 33 Strategies of War.[17][38][39] It has sold more than 200,000 copies.[31]

The 50th Law[edit]

The 50th Law is the fourth book by Greene—written collaboratively with rapper 50 Cent—and was published in 2009.[40][41][42] The book mixes talk of strategy and fearlessness by supplementing anecdotes from 50 Cent's rise as both a hustler and as an up-and-coming musician with lessons from various historical figures.[43][44][45] Each of the 10 chapters in the book explains a factor of fearlessness and begins by telling how 50 learned this "Fearless Philosophy" in Southside Queens.[46][47][48]

The book debuted at #5 on The New York Times Bestseller list and was a USA Today bestseller.[49][50][51][52]


Greene's fifth book, Mastery, was released on November 13, 2012.[53] Mastery examines the lives of both historical and contemporary figures such as Charles Darwin, Paul Graham, the Wright Brothers, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Mozart, and distills the traits and universal ingredients that made them masters.[54] The book is divided into six sections, each focusing on essential lessons and strategies on the path to Mastery.[54][55][56][57]

Mastery reached #6 on The New York Times Bestseller list and was featured in CNN Money, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, Business Insider, Forbes, Management Today, and Fast Company.[53][55][57][58][59][60][61][62][63]

The Laws of Human Nature[edit]

Greene's sixth book, The Laws of Human Nature, was released in October 2018. Through 18 "laws", the book examines people's conscious and unconscious drives, motivations, and cognitive biases.[64]

The Daily Laws[edit]

The Daily Laws, Greene's seventh book, was released in October 2021. The book features concise texts on wisdom, with each day of the year dedicated to a “Daily Law” and each month focusing on a different theme.[65][66]


Greene's work has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, CNN, The New Yorker, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, Forbes and the Huffington Post.[1][6][16] Greene has also appeared on The Today Show, CNBC, ABC, and MTV News.[67][68][69][70][71]

In 2013, Greene did a presentation on his book Mastery on Talks at Google.[72] Later in the year, he did a presentation on TED titled "The key to transforming yourself".[73] In 2016, a previous presentation of Robert's was uploaded at Microsoft Research titled "War, Power, Strategy".[74] In 2019, he did another presentation on Talks at Google on his book The Laws of Human Nature.[75]

On December 16, 2022, during the Mahsa Amini protests, the Neighborhood Youth Alliance of Iran and the Neighborhood Youth of Karaj Group distributed a text that they attributed to Greene, describing strategies for opposing the Islamic Republic governmental system of Iran. The Institute for the Study of War suggested that the text corresponded to a December 7 YouTube video by Greene on the protests. A five-point list of civil disobedience strategies for sustaining the protest movement was distributed with the text.[76]

Personal life[edit]

Greene lives in Los Angeles with his partner Anna Biller, who is a filmmaker.[6] Greene can speak five languages and is a student of Zen Buddhism.[5]

Greene is a mentor for Ryan Holiday, bestselling author of Trust Me, I'm Lying, The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy, and The Daily Stoic.[77]

Greene supported Barack Obama in the 2012 United States presidential election and identifies with liberal politics.[78]

When asked in 2012 if he is religious, Greene said "I'm Jewish but I don't have a hardcore spiritual practice. I'm not hardcore Atheist; I'm sort of how Einstein was: He wasn't a believer in the Jewish God. I'm intrigued by the sense that there's something there."[79]

Greene suffered a serious stroke before launching his new book The Laws of Human Nature in 2018. A wasp sting that precipitated a blood clot in his neck caused the stroke, leaving Greene without the use of his left hand and leg for a period of time.[80][81]



  1. ^ a b c d e Chang, Andrea. American Apparel's in-house guru shows a lighter side. The Los Angeles Times. August 30, 2011.
  2. ^ "Business Bestsellers". New York Times. November 8, 1998.
  3. ^ a b c Lee, Lee (July 12, 2006). "Laws for an Outlaw Culture". LA Times.
  4. ^ a b Bertodano, Helena de (November 26, 2012). "Why Robert Greene isn't who you think". Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Chang, Andrea (August 30, 2011). "American Apparel's in-house guru shows a lighter side". The Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ a b c d e Paumgarten, Nick (November 6, 2006). "FRESH PRINCE; Hip-hop's Machiavelli". The New Yorker.
  7. ^ Perlroth, Nicole. Robert Greene on Power Ambition Glory. Forbes. June 16, 2009.
  8. ^ Empson, Olivia (November 7, 2023). "'Books keep our minds free': US prisons ban reading materials at alarming pace". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
  9. ^ Books Banned in U.S. Prisons Featured at Minneapolis Art Festival (video), Unicorn Riot Media, June 25, 2018
  10. ^ "Why are these two books banned at the Utah State prison?". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved October 29, 2022.
  11. ^ Greene, Robert (2000). The 48 Laws of Power. New York. p. 452. ISBN 0140280197.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  12. ^ "Robert Greene". The Decision Lab. Retrieved November 9, 2022.
  13. ^ Chang, Andrea (August 30, 2011). "American Apparel's in-house guru shows a lighter side". LA Times.
  14. ^ "Bonhams : Michael Jackson: an annotated copy of the book 'The 48 Laws Of Power' by Robert Greene". www.bonhams.com. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  15. ^ "Singer Love to face drugs trial". April 16, 2004. Retrieved February 24, 2018 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  16. ^ a b c Blake, John. How to Master the '48 Laws of Power' Archived December 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. CNN. March 15, 2010.
  17. ^ a b Tice, Carol. All's Fair?. Entrepreneur. November 1, 2006.
  18. ^ "'Laws Of Power' Author Robert Greene Is Surprisingly Nice". Business Insider. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  19. ^ "Kanye West – Primetime Lyrics". RapGenius.
  20. ^ "Drake – What I'm Thinkin' Right Now Lyrics". RapGenius.
  21. ^ 10 Things The Kid LAROI Can't Live Without | GQ, retrieved November 2, 2021 - minute 4:24
  22. ^ Central Cee - Obsessed With You (Official Video), archived from the original on December 21, 2021, retrieved November 2, 2021 - minute 0:07
  23. ^ "How to take power and influence people". The Sunday Times (London). August 6, 2006. Archived from the original on April 5, 2014. "Despite Greene's obvious influence, most Hollywood executives are coy about admitting it. Jonathan Baker, marketing manager for Sony Pictures Entertainment, says the book is often used by executives he knows, "but because of its nature, you won't find a lot of people who will own up to how important a resource it has become for them. Acknowledging its influence can be damning; you are opening yourself up to being judged in a negative way. But I don't mind saying that I stumbled on it in a very down period in my life, and it gave me a lot of clarity when I needed it most".
  24. ^ "Robert Greene and his influence over American Apparel [Video]". The Los Angeles Times. August 31, 2011.
  25. ^ "Drake To Produce The 48 Laws Of Power For Quibi". Forbes.
  26. ^ Greene, Robert (April 2004). The Art of Seduction. Profile Books. ISBN 1861977697.
  27. ^ Bruce, Robert (October 21, 2001). "The Art of Seductive Writing: A Conversation with Robert Greene". Copy Blogger.
  28. ^ Eddie Lennon (September 4, 2003). "Seduce them by the book". The Irish Independent.
  29. ^ Groth, Aimee (June 4, 2012). "Robert Greene Tells Us What People Don't Understand About Power". Business Insider.
  30. ^ David Colman (August 3, 2003). "POSSESSED; Seduction's Earthy Scent". The New York Times.
  31. ^ a b Robert Greene Interview, Part 1. Power Seduction and War. July 7, 2006.
  32. ^ a b Greene, Robert (2006). The 33 Strategies of War. New York: Viking. p. 496. ISBN 0143112783.
  33. ^ Lee, Eloise (May 4, 2012). "33 War Strategies That Will Help You Win Everything In Life". Business Insider.
  34. ^ "Online Extra: A Best-Seller Smorgasbord". BusinessWeek. April 30, 2006. Archived from the original on July 31, 2013.
  35. ^ "33 Strategies of War". Publishers Weekly. December 12, 2005.
  36. ^ Fearn, Nicholas (March 5, 2006). "The 33 Strategies of War, by Robert Greene". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on December 17, 2008.
  37. ^ Dillon, Frank (January 10, 2010). "A guide to balancing your books; Business leaders give Frank Dillon tips on what the best managers should be reading". The Sunday Times.
  38. ^ Green, Mark (January 12, 2012). "Not a Third Wheel: A GQ&A with Chris Bosh". GQ.
  39. ^ Mirchandini, Raakhee (January 5, 2007). "The Merchant of Menace". The New York Post.
  40. ^ "50 Cent is New York Times Certified". Vibe. September 28, 2009.
  41. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (September 27, 2009). "Bestsellers". New York Times.
  42. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (September 18, 2009). "Inside the List". New York Times.
  43. ^ Johnson, Lynne (September 10, 2009). "The 50 Cent Bible". Fast Company.
  44. ^ Groth, Aimee (May 10, 2012). "10 Tips For Becoming Fearless Like 50 Cent". Business Insider.
  45. ^ Goodman, Matthew (October 29, 2009). "Rapper's latest hit for business scene". The Australian.
  46. ^ Richards, Jason (September 17, 2009). "Interview: Robert Greene on 50 Cent". The Huffington Post.
  47. ^ Burkeman, Oliver (September 4, 2009). "When the gangsta rapper met the self-help guru". The Guardian. London.
  48. ^ Finnell, Joshua (August 20, 2009). "The Blingdom of God: Books on the Religion of Hip-Hop". Library Journal. Archived from the original on September 15, 2012.
  49. ^ Hardcover Advice & Misc. Bestsellers. New York Times. September 27, 2009.
  50. ^ "USA TODAY Money best sellers". USA Today. October 12, 2009.
  51. ^ "The 50th Law". USA Today.
  52. ^ Getlen, Larry (September 20, 2009). "Talking Cents". New York Post.
  53. ^ a b Capouya, John (November 9, 2012). "Zen and the art of global domination". CNN Money. Archived from the original on November 13, 2012.
  54. ^ a b Greene, Robert (2012). Mastery. Viking. ISBN 978-0670024964.
  55. ^ a b Kurutz, Steven (November 7, 2012). "Renovate Like a Master". New York Times.
  56. ^ How Yoky Matsuoka created the modern robotic hand, and what the rest of us can learn from her GeekWire. November 12, 2012.
  57. ^ a b Groth, Aimee (November 2, 1012). "27 Tips For Mastering Anything". Business Insider.
  58. ^ Bradt, George (November 8, 2012). "Beyond 10,000 Hours: The Constant Pursuit of Mastery". Forbes.
  59. ^ Chamorro-Premuzic, Tomas. Book review: Mastery, by Robert Greene. Management Today. November 1, 2012.
  60. ^ Robert Greene. The Aha! Moments That Made Paul Grahms Y Combinator Possible. Fast Company. November 12, 2012.
  61. ^ 'Mastery' By Robert Greene: How to Become a Master in Your Chosen Field. Huffington Post. November 15, 2012.
  62. ^ Best Sellers: Advice and Misc..The New York Times. November 26, 2012.
  63. ^ "Mastery". USA Today.
  64. ^ Livni, Ephrat (October 28, 2018). "The big new book on all your flaws and how to turn them around". Quartz.
  65. ^ "The Daily Laws by Robert Greene: 9780593299234 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books". PenguinRandomhouse.com. Retrieved February 18, 2024.
  66. ^ "Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous Books - Best Sellers - Books - Oct. 31, 2021 - The New York Times". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 18, 2024.
  67. ^ "50 Cent On The Today Show for supporting his new book "The 50th Law"". The Today Show. October 1, 2009. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021.
  68. ^ "50 Cent sits down with CNBC and talks about his new book "The 50th Law". CNBC. October 1, 2009. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021.
  69. ^ "The 50 Cent Empire". ABC News. November 5, 2009.
  70. ^ B, Robert (April 14, 2024). "appeared on TV Show". FinanceDesire. FinanceDesire.Com. Archived from the original on April 14, 2024. Retrieved April 14, 2024.
  71. ^ Reid, Shaheem (September 10, 2009). "50 Cent Signs Copies Of His New Book 'The 50th Law'". MTV News.
  72. ^ "Mastery - Robert Greene - Talks at Google". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  73. ^ "The key to transforming yourself -- Robert Greene at TEDxBrixton". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
  74. ^ "War, Power, Strategy". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  75. ^ "Robert Greene - The Laws of Human Nature - Talks at Google". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  76. ^ Fitzpatrick, Kitaneh; Moore, Johanna; Coles, Zachary; Kagan, Frederick W. (December 16, 2022). "Iran Crisis Update, December 16". Institute for the Study of War. Archived from the original on December 17, 2022. Retrieved December 17, 2022.
  77. ^ "Episode 088: Ryan Holiday – How to Find the Best Mentor & Viewing Obstacles as Opportunities". January 11, 2016.
  78. ^ Lynskey, Dorian (December 3, 2012). "Robert Greene on his 48 laws of power: 'I'm not evil – I'm a realist'". The Guardian. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  79. ^ Groth, Aimee (June 5, 2012). "Robert Greene Tells Us What People Don't Understand About Power". Business Insider Australia.
  80. ^ @RobertGreene (September 17, 2018). "A few weeks ago as I was beginning the preparations for the launch of my new book, The Laws of Human Nature, I suffered a serious stroke, the result of a blood clot in my neck. This has rendered my left arm and leg virtually useless. The doctors expect me to make a complete recovery, but it will require a few months of rehab, and much patience on my part. It also unfortunately means I will have to curtail and postpone many of the interviews and events we had planned and scheduled. The Laws of Human Nature was six years in the making and is the culmination of my life's study of power, psychology, and history, so I am profoundly disappointed that I won't be able to discuss with you many of the book's lessons right away. I'm grateful for the many messages of support from friends and family and plan to be out speaking and writing about the book soon, with the added poignancy of having survived a brush with death. In the meantime I hope you will enjoy this book, which I poured my mind and soul into over the last several years, and please be on the lookout for some of the videos and articles we prepared before this temporary setback" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  81. ^ "Master the Laws of Human Nature with Robert Greene". October 31, 2018.

External links[edit]