WHAT GIVES WITH ALL THESE NUMBERS IN BOOK TITLES? And are there precisely 48 ''laws of power,'' as the No. 5 book on this month's BUSINESS WEEK Best-Seller list suggests?

In fact, The 48 Laws of Power seems to have been packaged more than published. Author Robert Greene, a playwright and student of the classics, spent two years compiling his aphorisms and narratives of life at court, then got together with book packager Joost Elffers to figure out a format. In the resulting book, one chapter is devoted to each ''law''--such as No. 15: ''Crush your enemy totally.'' Or No. 2: ''Never put too much trust in friends. Learn how to use enemies.'' Running in red print in the margins alongside the text are quotes from such worthies as Edgar Allen Poe, philosophers Arthur Schopenhauer and Han-Fei-Tzu, and maxim maker La Rochefoucauld.

The book's amoral advice adds up to a grim portrait of a ruthless, duplicitous universe. ''The more capricious you appear, the more respect you will garner,'' we learn in Chapter 17, titled ''Keep Others in Suspended Terror.'' After a while, though, tales of Ivan the Terrible and Catherine the Great become merely tiresome. It's quite a contrast to another genre, popular last year, that drew inspiration for workplace behavior from the lives of Jesus Christ and Moses. Who will provide the watchwords for workplace life in 1999? Stay tuned.


1 THE 9 STEPS TO FINANCIAL FREEDOM by Suze Orman (Crown $23) Practical and ''spiritual'' steps for managing money.

2 THE JOY OF WORK by Scott Adams (HarperBusiness $22) Office pranks and ploys to fend off the cubicle blues.

3 THE ROARING 2000s by Harry S. Dent Jr. (Simon & Schuster $25) Why the good times won't go away.

4 THE ELECTRONIC DAY TRADER by Marc Friedfertig and George West (McGraw-Hill $34.95) Hopping in and out of the market electronically.

5 THE 48 LAWS OF POWER by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers (Viking $24.95) Thoughts of Machiavelli, Talleyrand, and other power brokers distilled.

6 WORK IN PROGRESS by Michael Eisner with Tony Schwartz (Random House $27.95) Disney's chief reflects on work, life, and mortality.

7 WHO MOVED MY CHEESE by Spencer Johnson, M.D. (Putnam $19.95) Finding happiness, just like rats in a maze.

8 SELLING THE INVISIBLE by Harry Beckwith (Warner $16) A collection of bite-size lessons on marketing.

9 JACK WELCH AND THE GE WAY by Robert Slater (McGraw-Hill $24.95) Managing General Electric's ''boundaryless organization.''

10 RAVING FANS by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles (Morrow $20) Turning customers into your biggest boosters.

11 GUTS by Robert A. Lutz (Wiley $24.95) Chrysler's ex-president on the company's second renaissance.

12 GUNG HO! by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles (Morrow $20) How Walton Works No. 2 fired up its employees.

13 LIVE RICH by Stephen M. Pollan and Mark Levine (HarperBusiness $25) Hints for becoming your own boss.

14 NEW RULES FOR THE NEW ECONOMY by Kevin Kelly (Viking $19.95) Lessons of the wired world applied to the global economy.

15 WORKING WITH EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE by Daniel Goleman (Bantam $29.95) You, too, can become a star performer.


1 THE MILLIONAIRE NEXT DOOR by Thomas J. Stanley, PhD, and William D. Danko, PhD (Pocket Books $14) The simple ways of the wealthy among us.

2 THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE by Stephen R. Covey (Fireside $14) Habitually popular.

3 1001 WAYS TO REWARD EMPLOYEES by Bob Nelson (Workman $10.95) Give them a champagne brunch, a casual-dress day--or plain old cash.

4 BUILT TO LAST by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras (HarperBusiness $15) How 3M, Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble, and others became standouts.

5 DIE BROKE by Stephen M. Pollan and Mark Levine (HarperBusiness $14) Forget about the will--and the conventional wisdom, says a financial adviser.

6 AGAINST THE GODS by Peter L. Bernstein (Wiley $14.95) Risk management in the making of the modern world.

7 THE 1999 WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE? by Richard Nelson Bolles (Ten Speed Press $16.95) The enduring job-search bible.

8 GETTING TO YES by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton (Penguin $12.95) A Harvard team's step-by-step guide to conflict resolution.

9 THE ONE MINUTE MANAGER by Kenneth Blanchard PhD and Spencer Johnson M.D. (Berkley $11.95) Three management techniques, conveyed in brief story form.

10 THE MOTLEY FOOL INVESTMENT GUIDE by David and Tom Gardner (Fireside $12) The online duo puts it on paper.

11 BARRON'S DICTIONARY OF FINANCE AND INVESTMENT TERMS by John Downes and Jordan Elliot Goodman (Barron's $11.95) What is an oligopsony anyway?

12 THE WALL STREET JOURNAL GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING MONEY AND INVESTING by Kenneth M. Morris and Alan M. Siegel (Fireside $14.95) Concise explanations enriched with graphics.

13 THE E MYTH REVISITED by Michael E. Gerber (HarperBusiness $15) Starting and maintaining a small business.

14 THE GOAL by Eliyahu M. Goldratt (North River Press $19.95) Bringing company strategies in line with your No. 1 purpose: making money.

15 YOU'VE EARNED IT, DON'T LOSE IT by Suze Orman with Linda Mead (Newmarket Press $15) Financial planning--and mistakes to avoid.

BUSINESS WEEK's Best-Seller List is based on a survey of chain and independent booksellers that carry a broad selection of books on economics, management, sales and marketing, small business, investing, personal finance, and careers. Well over 1,000 retail outlets nationwide are represented. Current rankings are based on a weighted analysis of unit sales in October.

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Updated Nov. 19, 1998 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1998, Bloomberg L.P.
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