The Prince

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Overview

Need to seize a country? Have enemies you must destroy? In this handbook for despots and tyrants, the Renaissance statesman Machiavelli sets forth how to accomplish this and more, while avoiding the awkwardness of becoming generally hated and despised.

"Men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does ...

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The Prince

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Overview

Need to seize a country? Have enemies you must destroy? In this handbook for despots and tyrants, the Renaissance statesman Machiavelli sets forth how to accomplish this and more, while avoiding the awkwardness of becoming generally hated and despised.

"Men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge."

For nearly 500 years, Machiavelli's observations on Realpolitik have shocked and appalled the timid and romantic, and for many his name was equivalent to the devil's own. Yet, The Prince was the first attempt to write of the world of politics as it is, rather than sanctimoniously of how it should be, and thus The Prince remains as honest and relevant today as when Machiavelli first put quill to parchment, and warned the junior statesman to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity.

Described as a practical rule-book for the diplomat and a handbook of evil, this work provides an uncompromising picture of the true nature of power.

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Editorial Reviews

Annie M. Paul

No doubt about it -- this writer is hot. His works inspire countless knockoffs and imitations. His imprimatur gilds the covers of other authors' books like Oprah's golden O. His name has even entered the language as an adjective. But you won't see him signing books at Barnes & Noble or trying to talk over Charlie Rose. No doubt he'd relish the attention, but he's been dead for almost 500 years.

These days, Niccolo Machiavelli is generating a volume of buzz Tina Brown would envy. In the past couple of years, he's been the subject of more than 20 books, including Dick Morris' The New Prince: Machiavelli Updated for the Twenty-First Century, The New Machiavelli: The Art of Politics in Business and Machiavelli on Modern Leadership: Why Machiavelli's Iron Rules Are as Timely and Important Today as Five Centuries Ago. For the fairer (but no less devious) sex, there's The Princessa: Machiavelli for Women and for those mischievous little tykes, A Child's Machiavelli: A Primer on Power.

Of course, the buzz around Machiavelli has never really died down. Since his guide to getting and keeping power, The Prince, was published in 1532, Machiavelli's matter-of-fact instruction that rulers must be prepared to lie, cheat and steal to hang on to their thrones -- all the while acting the part of the benevolent leader -- has not lost its razor edge. Even in this era of cynicism, Machiavelli's view of humanity as greedy and self-seeking or stupid and easily tricked still seems remarkably dark -- and to some, remarkably relevant. The little Italian excites so much passion because his works divide readers into two hostile camps: those who admire his clear-sighted pragmatism and those who are repelled by his casual amorality.

His polarizing presence isn't limited to light reading, either. Now Machiavelli is making an appearance in a loftier realm: the speculations of sociobiology. In Machiavellian Intelligence: Social Expertise and the Evolution of Intellect in Monkeys, Apes, and Humans (Oxford University Press, 1988) and Machiavellian Intelligence II: Extensions and Evaluations (Cambridge University Press, 1997), two scientists make a startling claim: Machiavellian behavior helped our early ancestors survive, and even drove the evolution of their brains. In other words, it made us human.

Andrew Whiten and Richard Byrne, both professors of biology at Scotland's St. Andrews University, apply the word "Machiavellian" to artful manipulation that serves one's own interests. In the communal living situations of our early forbears, they explain, those who could make the biggest grab for resources without getting kicked out of the group altogether -- that is, those who were most effectively underhanded and guileful -- were the ones who lived to pass on their (Machiavellian) genes. The competition to be the craftiest of them all created an "evolutionary arms race," write Whiten and Byrne, "leading to spiraling increases in intelligence."

Their supposition grows out of what's known as the "social intelligence hypothesis": the idea that it's not the world of objects that demands superior smarts, but our complicated and nuanced web of relationships. Sounds sensible enough -- but earlier theories had tied the development of human intelligence to the use of tools and weapons. (That dealing with relationships is the more cognitively complex activity will surprise no one who's seen modern-day man prefer a session with his power tools to a long talk with his wife.)

Machiavelli's survival-of-the-shrewdest philosophy has obvious parallels to evolutionary theory (were he writing today, he might thank, fawningly of course, Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins in his acknowledgements), and the researchers have embraced him as a sage. "Machiavelli seems to me to have been a realist, who accepted that self-interest was ultimately what drove people, and emphasized that the best way to achieve one's personal ends was usually through social, cooperative and generous behavior -- provided that the costs are never allowed to outweigh the ultimate benefits to oneself," says Byrne. Though the biologists' work doesn't draw directly on Machiavelli's texts, his steel-fisted, velvet-gloved approach provides the perfect model for the behavior they describe.

Evolutionary biology isn't the only academic discipline to borrow from Machiavelli: Psychology got there first. Almost 50 years ago, a Stanford psychologist named Richard Christie set out to ascertain just how many modern-day adherents Machiavelli had, and how they differed from those who disavow his ideas. Christie created a personality test based on statements taken from The Prince: "Most people forget more easily the death of their parents than the loss of their property," for example, and "The biggest difference between most criminals and other people is that the criminals are stupid enough to get caught." Test-takers were asked to rate how strongly they agreed with Machiavelli's acid observations. Those who endorsed Machiavelli's opinions Christie dubbed high Machs; those who rejected them out of hand were low Machs. Most people fall somewhere in the middle, but there's a significant minority at either extreme.

The unusual origins of Christie's test set it apart from the carefully constructed instruments psychologists ordinarily use. The survey itself measures only one thing -- whether the test-taker subscribes to the ideas of a 16th century Italian political philosopher. But here's the rub: In subsequent experiments in his lab, Christie found that our reactions to Machiavelli act as a kind of litmus test, delineating differences in temperament that he confirmed with more traditional personality inventories. High Machs, he determined, constitute a distinct type: charming, confident and glib, but also arrogant, calculating and cynical, prone to manipulate and exploit. (Think Rupert Murdoch, or if your politics permit it, Bill Clinton.)

Christie and his collaborator, Florence Geis, had deeply mixed feelings about high Machs, especially after watching them trounce other players in games the psychologists set up and observed in their lab. "Initially, our image of the high Mach was a negative one, associated with shadowy and unsavory manipulations," they wrote in their 1970 classic, Studies in Machiavellianism (Academic Press). "However, after watching subjects in laboratory experiments, we found ourselves having a perverse admiration for the high Mach's ability to outdo others in experimental situations." Almost against their will, they were impressed by the high Machs: "Their greater willingness to admit socially undesirable traits compared to low Machs hinted at a possibly greater insight into and honesty about themselves."

One of the many psychologists who have contributed to the now-substantial literature on Machiavellianism is John McHoskey, of Eastern Michigan University. In a major paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, he made the case that Machiavellianism is, in fact, a mild form of mental illness. The tendency to exploit and manipulate others, he says, can be placed on a continuum that runs from Mother Teresa to Ted Bundy. "People who are way out on the far end are the crazed Hannibal Lecter psychopaths," he explains. "But in the middle, there's still a lot of room for differences, and the people who score on the high end you can think of as Machiavellian." (Of course, do-gooders like Mother Teresa might actually be engaging in a less blatant and therefore more sophisticated form of Machiavellianism. As Byrne notes, the ultimate Machiavellian bargain may be the one made with God.)

McHoskey's article argued that high Machs possess, to a greater or lesser degree, the qualities associated with classic psychopaths: a lack of remorse, pathological lying, glibness and superficial charm, a grandiose sense of self-worth. Even so, he refuses to denounce Machiavellians outright, however, cautioning that it all depends on context. We want our spies and sometimes our diplomats to be devious in the nation's service. Elected officials and other administrators must be at least a little Machiavellian to get anything done. A degree of impersonality toward human life is essential in a doctor performing bypass surgery, or a soldier engaged in warfare. Plus, McHoskey points out, true low Machs are kind of sucky. "They're the extreme opposite of someone who's Machiavellian: dependent, submissive, socially inept, shy," he says. In other words, be sure to invite a high Mach or two to your next dinner party.

Psychologists' emphasis on these individual differences in Machiavellianism sits uneasily alongside Byrne and Whiten's focus on the universal processes of selection and adaptation. According to the biologists' theory, every human is the end result of evolution's preference for the sly and cunning. (Byrne and Whiten don't make distinctions between good and bad intentions but instead focus on the means we use to achieve them.) Does that mean we're all Machiavellians? "Well, yes, to some degree," Whiten says. "For example, young children, from the ages of about 3 to 4, have been observed to attempt deceptions and to manipulate social situations to their own benefit. This seems natural to humans, and begins early."

Yet such universal theories on the mercenary motivations of human behavior create a kind of circular reasoning. It's impossible to disprove that we're all Machiavellian because any successful human endeavor -- whether it's feeding the poor or taking care of a loved one -- can be reinterpreted through the lens of selfishness.

After decades circling around this point, some sociobiologists are beginning to form other evolutionary theories that concur with the psychological vision that individual personalities engage in varying levels of selfishness and altruism and use a variety of methods to achieve their ends. David Sloan Wilson, of SUNY-Binghamton, believes that Machiavellianism is just one wrench in the tactical toolbox that humans have evolved over the eons -- and not one that all of us choose to use. "There's more than one way to succeed in social life," he notes. "There are exploitative ways, and there are cooperative ways."

In a 1996 Psychological Bulletin paper, Wilson proposed his "multiple-niche" theory which didn't exactly refute his colleagues' work on Machiavellian behavior but refused to allow it to claim credit for all human success. Some people do get ahead by being slick, Wilson suggested, but others prosper using more straightforward or altruistic approaches. (Wilson is also the co-author of a recent book on altruism, Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior (Harvard University Press, 1998)).

"There are wolves," says Wilson grimly, "and there are sheep." He doesn't hide his visceral reaction to the former. "It's kind of scary when you appreciate that human life is like a predator-prey relationship, in which both are members of the same species," he says. Wilson describes the unsettling feeling of looking out over a class to whom he has administered Christie's test of Machiavellianism, knowing that a certain number of his students are hard-core manipulators. "We grow up thinking that we have to have this presumption of niceness" about other people, he muses, "and there's something startling about the fact that that's just not true."

But Wilson's message is ultimately an optimistic one: cooperative strategies can work as well as, and sometimes better than, exploitative ones. After all, Machiavellianism sometimes backfires: Its proponents may scheme and manipulate even when a show of submissiveness or an offer to share might more easily get them what they want, and they always run the risk of being found out and then sanctioned or expelled by their communities. As McHoskey notes, Machiavellians therefore do best in highly mobile societies, in which individuals are free to make their own fortunes and the expression of greed or self-interest is encouraged or at least accepted.

Sound familiar? Forget 16th century Italian city states -- 20th century America is a land of would-be Princes, a place where the grifter, the con man and the wheeler-dealer are both celebrated archetypes and real-life heroes. Perhaps that's why now, as the gospel of global capitalism spreads unhindered by other philosophies and Americans reflexively interpret politicians' words and deeds as motivated solely by strategic self-interest, Machiavelli is experiencing a popular revival. Whatever timeless truths he may have to offer, his message is perfectly pitched to this high-flying, high-rolling cultural moment, when image means everything and power is purchased at any cost.

Were he on the scene today, Machiavelli would no doubt revel in his continuing popularity, though he would likely have little use for the academic debates he inspires (students of literature and political science still argue if his advice to the Medicis was satire, all a monstrous joke). "It seems to me better to concentrate on what really happens," he coolly pronounced in The Prince, "rather than on theories or speculations."
Salon

John Gueguen
There is good reason to assert that Machiavelli has met his match in Mansfield.
Sixteenth Century Journal
Library Journal
Penguin strikes again with a wonderful new series called "Great Ideas" featuring 12 books by great thinkers dating back to the first millennium B.C.E. through the mid-20th century, covering art, politics, literature, philosophy, science, history, and more. Each slim paperback is individually designed, and all are affordable at $8.95. A great idea indeed. Snap 'em up! Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
First published in 1517, this classic treatise on the art of practical politics remains a fascinating and powerful work. Laying down uncompromising guidelines for successful leadership, Machiavelli leaves no room for indecision or weakness, and his text comes alive in the voice of actor Fritz Weaver. The narrator's performance is energetic and committed, heightening the dramatic impact of such controversial mandates as the necessary destruction of all the members of a ruling family, of inflicting violence once and for all, or of acting cruelly for the sake of unity. The text is prefaced by the unidentified translator's enlightening introduction. The packaging is aesthetically appealing but flimsy. Definitely recommended for academic and large public libraries.

--Sister M. Anna Falbo CSSF, Villa Maria College Library, Buffalo. N.Y.

Booknews
An inexpensive but high quality translation of the classic Italian Renaissance statement of what has come to be called realpolitik. The translator, Paul Sonnino, presents an easily readable English but also takes care to render Italian words into English cognates or at least to use the same word consistently so the reader gets a sense of what terms and concepts Machiavelli repeated and in what context. Lightly annotated.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781503379640
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/29/2014
  • Pages: 84
  • Sales rank: 62,836
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicolo Machiavelli was an Italian diplomat, philosopher and historian, born in Florence on 3rd May 1469. Born to parents of the old Florentine nobility, he is one of the main founders of modern political science. He also wrote comedies, carnival songs, poetry, and some of the most well-known personal correspondence in the Italian language.
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Read an Excerpt

Niccolò Machiavelli to His Magnificence Lorenzo de’ Medici1

Those who wish to win the favor of a prince will generally approach him with gifts of what they value most or what they believe will most delight him. Hence we see princes being offered horses, arms, vestments of gold, precious stones, and similar accoutrements worthy of their grandeur. Wishing to present myself to Your Magnificence with a token of my deepest respect, I have found among my possessions nothing that I value or esteem higher than my knowledge of the deeds of great men. I have acquired this knowledge through my long experience of modern affairs and a lifelong study of ancient times, all of which I have weighed and examined with great diligence and brought together into this small volume, which I am now offering to Your Magnificence. Though I deem this work unworthy of being in Your illustrious presence, my confidence in Your benevolence persuades me that it will be accepted, and that Your Magnificence will recognize that I cannot offer You a greater gift than the prospect of Your understanding in the shortest period all that I have experienced and learned over so many years and with so much danger and hardship. I have not filled this volume with pompous rhetoric, with bombast and magnificent words, or with the unnecessary artifice with which so many writers gild their work. I wanted nothing extraneous to ornament my writing, for it has been my purpose that only the range of material and the gravity of the subject should make it pleasing. Nor do I wish it to be thought presumptuous that a man of low and humble condition like myself should presume to map out and direct the government ofprinces. But just as a cartographer will descend into the plains in order to study the nature of the mountains, and will then climb the highest peaks in order to study the low-lying land, so, too, only an exalted prince can grasp the nature of the people, and only a lesser man can perceive the nature of a prince.

I hope therefore that Your Magnificence will accept this humble gift in the spirit in which it is offered. Should You condescend to read and consider it carefully, You will perceive in its pages my profound desire that Your Magnificence will rise to the greatness that Fortune and Your qualities promise. And should Your Magnificence deign to look down from the lofty summit of Your eminence to these lowly depths, You will see how I have suffered undeservedly Fortune’s great and continuing malignity.

1. Lorenzo de’ Medici (1492—1519) was the grandson of Lorenzo the Magnificent.

Chapter One
Of the kinds of principalities that exist, and how they can be acquired

All states, all dominions that rule or have ruled over men, are or have been either republics or principalities. Principalities are either hereditary, with a long-established bloodline, or new. And the new principalities are either entirely new, as Milan was to Francesco Sforza2, or are like limbs added to the hereditary state of the prince who acquires them, as the Kingdom of Naples was to the King of Spain3. States obtained in this way are accustomed either to living under a prince, or to being free. They are acquired either with the arms of others, or with one’s own, either by chance or by skill.

2. Francesco Sforza (1401—66) was a soldier of fortune who became Duke of Milan in 1450.
3. Ferdinand the Catholic (1452—1516), King of Aragon, also became Ferdinand III of Naples in 1504.

Chapter Two
Of hereditary principalities

I will not discuss republics, as I have already done so at some length elsewhere. I shall only concentrate on principalities, and shall weave together the threads I have already laid out. I will show how these principalities can be governed and main- tained.

First, states that are hereditary and tied to the bloodline of their prince are easier to maintain than new ones. It is enough not to diverge from the practices of one’s forebears, and to handle unforeseen issues as they arise. If such a prince is of at least average ability he can retain his posi- tion of power, so long as no extraordinary or excessive force deprive him of it. If this prince is deprived of his state, he will find he can reacquire it if any misfortune befalls the usurper.

In Italy we have the example of the Duke of Ferrara, who resisted the assaults of the Venetians in 1484 and of Pope Julius II in 1510, for the simple reason that he had inherited an ancient principality4. A hereditary prince has less cause to mistreat his subjects, and so is more loved by them. If unusual vices do not make him hated, it is to be expected that he will be loved by his people.

The long continuum of the dominion obliterates the memories and issues that make men yearn for innovation, for one change will inevitably forge a link to another.

4. In fact, Duke Ercole d’Este of Ferrara managed to end the war with Venetians in 1484, while his son Duke Alfonso managed to stay in power despite excommunication and an ongoing war with the papal forces.


Chapter Three
Of mixed principalities

It is in the new principality that the difficulties lie. First, if the principality is not completely new, but is like a limb or extension added to another principality (in which case we could almost call the whole state a mixed principality), its volatility stems mainly from a difficulty inherent in all new principalities. This is that men will willingly change their ruler in the hope that they will fare better, a hope that leads them to take up arms against their old ruler. But in this they are deceived, because, as they invariably discover, their lot under a new ruler is inevitably worse. This is the result of another natural and basic inevitability: that you cannot avoid offending those whose new ruler you are, both with your armed soldiers and with innumerable other provocations that come in the wake of a conquest. You end up making enemies of all those you have offended during your conquest of the principality, and you find that you cannot keep the friendship of those who helped you to power, since you cannot satisfy them in the way they had envisioned. Furthermore, you cannot take strong measures against them, as you are indebted to them. Even with the most powerful army, if you want to invade a state, you need the support of the people. It was for these reasons that King Louis XII of France was quick to occupy Milan, and just as quick to lose it. Duke Ludovico’s own forces were enough to win Milan back the first time, because the same masses that had opened the gates for Louis, finding themselves misled in their hopes for a better future, could not endure the new prince’s offenses5.

It is a fact that once a prince acquires a rebellious state for the second time, it also proves harder to lose that state a second time6. This is because the prince who seizes the opportunity of the rebellion has fewer scruples about securing his position by punishing offenders, flushing out suspects, and strengthening all the places where he is weakest. In this sense, it was enough for a Duke Ludovico to make a little noise along the borders for Louis XII to lose Milan the first time. But for him to lose Milan a second time the whole world had to unite against him, defeat his army, and chase it out of Italy7. This followed from the causes I have already laid out. Nonetheless, both the first and second time, Milan was taken from him.

The general reasons for the first loss have been discussed. It now remains to discuss the second, and to see what recourse someone in Louis’s position could have taken to maintain himself more securely in his new acquisition. I must stress that the states a prince acquires and adds to his own are either of the same country and language, or are not. If they are it is much easier to retain them, particularly if they are not used to freedom. To hold them securely, it is enough to extinguish the line of the previous prince who ruled them. As for the rest, if the new acquisition’s former state of affairs is kept and there is no difference in customs, men will live quite peacefully, as we have seen in Burgundy, Brittany, Gascony, and Normandy, which for a long time now have all belonged to France. Although there is some difference in language, their customs are similar, and their people get along with one another quite easily. He who acquires such states and wishes to retain them has to make sure of two things: that the bloodline of their former princes is extinguished, and that their laws and taxes remain the same. This way, the prince’s new state merges with the old, quickly becoming a single body.

But difficulties arise when you acquire states in a land with differing languages, customs, and laws. To keep these states, you need good fortune and much diligence. One of the best and quickest solutions is for the new prince to go and live in his new state. This makes the possession more durable and secure. The Turk did this in Greece8. With all the other measures he took to keep Greece in his possession, had he not gone to live there he would not have succeeded, because once the prince is established within his new state he is able to see problems as they arise and can remedy them. If he is not there, problems become obvious only once they are dire and can no longer be remedied. Furthermore, if he is present, his new state will not be looted by his officials, and his new subjects can enjoy immediate access to their prince. This will give them more reason to love him if they are on his side, and to fear him if they are not, and foreign powers wishing to attack his state will respect him more. Hence, if the prince lives in his new state, it is difficult for him to lose it.

Another efficient remedy is to set up colonies in one or two places that will act as the shackles of your new state. If you do not set up colonies, you will have to send a great number of troops to secure it, while a colony can be established and maintained at negligible cost. The only subjects who will be affronted are those whose fields and houses will be confiscated to be given to the new colonists. But these dispossessed subjects make up only a small part of the state and will end up poor and dispersed, and so can do no harm. The rest of your new subjects will not be affronted (and hence will be acquiescent), but will also be frightened of transgressing, worried that they too might be dispossessed. I conclude that colonies do not cost much, are loyal, and will cause less trouble. And as I have already mentioned, those you dispossess cannot harm you, as they will be poor and dispersed. In short, men must either be flattered or eliminated, because a man will readily avenge a slight grievance, but not one that is truly severe. Hence, the offense done a man must be of the kind that cannot incur vengeance.

If you choose armed forces instead of colonies, you will spend more and will have to squander all the income from the new state in order to pay the army. This will turn the acquisition into a loss, and all your new subjects will end up offended, since an army, constantly on the move and constantly requartered, hurts the whole state. Everyone feels the pain, and everyone becomes your enemy. And these are enemies who can harm you, because though they have been defeated, they remain on their own ground. So in every sense, using armed forces is as useless as setting up colonies is useful.

It is also important when a prince has conquered a foreign state that he become the protector of the surrounding weaker powers, and do all he can to weaken the stronger ones. He must take precautions so that no foreigner equal in power manages to enter his new state. If he should enter, it will be because he was brought in by discontented factions driven by ambition or fear. We saw this in the case of the Aetolians who introduced the Romans into Greece;9 and in every other province in which the Romans set foot, it was with the help of some of the inhabitants. The order of things is that the moment a powerful invader takes over a state, all the weaker factions within it join forces with him, spurred on by their envy of the ruler who had wielded power over them before. In other words, the new prince has no trouble winning the weaker factions over, because they will willingly become part of his new state. He has only to see to it that they do not gain too much power and authority. With his forces and their favor, he can easily bring down those who are powerful so that he will remain the only arbiter in the land. He who does not follow this course will quickly lose all he has gained, and will be plagued by infinite difficulties while he holds power.

5. Louis XII occupied Milan in September 1499, but was ousted in February 1500 by Ludovico Sforza. Louis, however, managed to recapture Milan within two months.
6. Once Louis XII recaptured Milan, it remained under his rule until 1512.
7. The Holy League of 1511, organized by Pope Julius II, was an anti-French coalition that included Spain, Venice, the Holy Roman Empire, England, and the Swiss. The League managed to drive the French out of Milan in May 1512.
8. The Turks occupied Constantinople in 1453, and in 1457 transferred the capital of the Ottoman Empire from Edirne to Constantinople.
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Table of Contents

Chronology
Map
Introduction
Translator's Note
Selected Books
Machiavelli's Principal Works
Letter to the Magnificent Lorenzo de Medici 1
I How many kinds of principality there are and the ways in which they are acquired 5
II Hereditary principalities 5
III Composite principalities 6
IV Why the kingdom of Darius conquered by Alexander did not rebel against his successors after his death 13
V How cities or principalities which lived under their own laws should be administered after being conquered 16
VI New principalities acquired by one's own arms and prowess 17
VII New principalities acquired with the help of fortune and foreign arms 20
VIII Those who come to power by crime 27
IX The constitutional principality 31
X How the strength of every principality should be measured 34
XI Ecclesiastical principalities 36
XII Military organization and mercenary troops 39
XIII Auxiliary, composite, and native troops 43
XIV How a prince should organize his militia 47
XV The things for which men, and especially princes, are praised or blamed 49
XVI Generosity and parsimony 51
XVII Cruelty and compassion; and whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse 53
XVIII How princes should honour their word 56
XIX The need to avoid contempt and hatred 58
XX Whether fortresses and many of the other present-day expedients to which princes have recourse are useful or not 67
XXI How a prince must act to win honour 71
XXII A prince's personal staff 75
XXIII How flatterers must be shunned 76
XXIV Why the Italian princes have lost their states 78
XXV How far human affairs are governed by fortune, and how fortune can be opposed 79
XXVI Exhortation to liberate Italy from the barbarians 82
Glossary of Proper Names 86
Notes 99
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 114 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The original political action handbook

    Many Americans do not understand the motives and actions of the politicians whom they elect. The voters have expectations, but they fail to appreciate that the politicians have personal and professional agendas. THE PRINCE rips the curtain away to expose the true motivations of politicians, whether a "progressive" agenda of Barak Obama, the "left-wing liberal" bias of Nancy Pelosi, the "tea party conservative" blurts of Sarah Palin, or the vague agendas of the smilingly attractive and apparently patriotic and caring (but otherwise unknown) candidates for local school board. Despots aren't made; they're chosen. Leaders aren't born; they're made. Followers aren't created; they're the people who give away their rights and responsibilities to others who offer to think and choose for them. Machiavelli didn't invent the rules; he simply observed the rise and dominance of the most powerful family in Italian history and shared their secrets with posterity. Truth is truth, whether it describes Renaissance Venice during the time of great painters and corrupt popes or Washington DC during the time of vapid platitudes and bloated bureaucracies. EVERY management, business, political science, sociology, psychology, and education major should read this book before completing their sophomore year; otherwise, they'll miss the opportunity to manipulate minds effectively during their junior and senior years...and beyond. Because it predates the hollow pretext of "political correctness" and such laughable conceits as "unity through diversity," THE PRINCE explains what true power is, how to achieve it, how to wrest it from others and wield it effectively, and how to gain more of it at the expense of stupid people who haven't read Machiavelli. The author presumes "the why" is simple: having power beats the alternative.

    27 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 7, 2009

    AP World History Book Review: a description of my opinion of the book

    I am a student that read this book, The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. I believe that this book is great for people that want to be a leader sometime in life or history buffs that want to learn more about leadership. I would not reccomend this to people that either just want a book to read to pass time or people that are not interested in the subject. I personally thought this book was good because I enjoy historical texts. Last year in my regular world history class, we read an excerpt from this book (or at least a form of this book) and I found it very interesting how Machiavelli included things such as poetic devices to incorporate with things like leadership. In case anyone doesn't know, this book was written during the Renaissance time period.
    Back to a point of mine made earlier, I wouldn't reccomend this to some people just because people like to complain about the length of books and that the book was boring. That would be the case with this book. I thought it was good, but honestly I was pretty bored with it after periods of reading. But we have to remember that historical texts like this were written back when times were peaceful to where now we have books about the world ending so there is a distinct difference between the two. All in all, I liked this book but it definately wasn't one of my favorites.

    13 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2013

    Good version

    Had to read this book for school. Not my favorite book, but should you wish to read the classic, this is definitely the best FREE version out there.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2006

    He wasn't evil

    The truth is I thought that this book was surprisingly not as chilling as some have made it out to be, for example, I realize that when invading befriending the weak to take down the ruler but keeping those weak powers weak is by no means a nice thing to do. But in the end I saw this book as.... optimistic maybe. One thing he said stuck with me that a great ruler(one to go down in history) is not a tyrant who increases his nations size for personal gain but for the country itself. That was on my first reading, I'll reread it and maybe with more understanding I will find it as chilling as it is made out to be.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2012

    Not the demon he is made out to be.

    The Prince is not the heartless manual on backstabbing it is often portrayed as being. Rather Machiavelli seems most interested in issuing a wake up call to Italian leaders to get better at their jobs so as to protect Italy from becoming the plaything of foreign powers. It is interesting to note that Jefferson could read the Prince and extract not a lesson of ruthlessness, but rather the idea that a republic founded on popular support was safer and more durable than one based on the ambitions of a few selfish nobles.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2013

    AP World History Review This Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli is n

    AP World History Review
    This Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli is not as it is believed to be by some people. It's not heartless, and the opposite way to rule a government. He has a clear way of stating how a ruler should rule. It's about keeping unity among citizens, and using power, without abusing it. I would recommend this book because it has a way of making you look at government differently. It is also a great way of learning how people thought on military tactics for that time period, which were important for that time period. I like how Machiavelli was quick to make his point; he wasn’t wasting any time making his points. Since there wasn’t a lot of extra writing to decipher. it helped to understand what he was writing. Since the points came straight out, it made the book shorter, which was a nice size for a book on politics. The book was still a little tough at first, but as I read it got easier, it helped that I read Introducing Machiavelli by Patrick Curry and Oscar Zarate. Even if you aren’t a history buff, this book may take time to read, but it is worth the read.


    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2013

    Essential book

    Machiavelli has a bad reputation but this is because people judge him by this work alone. This is because he was not wtiting about the way things should be but the way things were/are. For another view of a differing side of his thinking read his "Discourses on Livy". The Prince is a book that should be read by everyone.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2009

    AP World History book review of the Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli

    The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli is a great overall book for people interested in the often violent means that political power is seized, kept, and lost. This book greatly portrays the leadership of leaders in the Renaissance time period and describes hereditary principalities, which are inherited by the leader. I wouldn't recommend this book to people who either aren't interesting in politics or the Renaissance time period. Also if you like reading really long books than this definitely is not one for you. Overall in my mind this was a great historical classic and I recommend it.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Classic work

    A easy reading and fluid translation of a classic work.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Pardon me, but would you have any political realism?

    Apropos of his best-known role as the conniving British prime ministerial candidate in House of Cards, Ian Richardson is the perfect reader for the quintessential manual of Realpolitik. The urbane authority he brings to this reading is nearly musical and the perfect complement to Machiavelli's ornate rhetoric. <BR/><BR/>For most Americans, Richardson is best known for his inquiries about the availability of Grey Poupon and after hearing this wonderful narration, I don't believe that anyone could resist giving him some mustard if he asked.

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2013

    Highly Recommended - Specially for those in pursuit of power and influence

    It is a rather dense reading however it still distilles with genius the ways a person in a position of power has to execute to remain and progress ahead.

    Despite the time since it was written, it is a very useful reference full with working knowledege taken from those in power at the time.

    It also becomes even more important to those not having that level of influence or power and having a crave towards getting some since the display of tactics are well explained.

    A fair time to read it may be a couple of weeks including taking notes aside to rethink and fathom the roots and branches of the knowledge inside.

    A great "sequel" would be something like "Machiavelli in Action" or so.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2012

    AP World History Review I thought that this book was a very good

    AP World History Review
    I thought that this book was a very good book.
    This book linked the things that we were going over in history class now. 
    I learned a lot about the middle ages while reading this book. 
    I learned about the military tactics and how a ruler should rule his kingdom while reading this book.  
    This book was very insightful with helping me learn about the middle ages.  

    This book really focused on the credentials that a good ruler in the middle ages is suppose to have.
    Machiavelli talks about four things in his book.
    He talks about the types of principalities, the types of armies, the character and behavior of a good ruler, and how all of these affected Italy.
    This is a good book for people who are into the middle ages.
    It is also good for people who like to learn about certain types of history, as in the middle ages.
    I really learned through this book that a ruler in the middle ages has to be like a dictator in the world today.
    Overall I really enjoyed this book and I think that other history buffs will like this book also. 

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2012

    AP World History Review: A Crazy Man and his Dreams The Prince,

    AP World History Review: A Crazy Man and his Dreams
    The Prince, written by Niccolo Machiavelli, is a novel dedicated to instructing a prince on how to run his country. For the most part, the novel speaks of how a ruler should act and appear. Machiavelli states that a ruler should appear generous and caring, when instead he should be a treacherous maniac with a motive to keep his power. Although the book at first seems to be directed towards all rulers, nearing the end, it seems to be intended specifically towards Italy and its broken government. It seems Machiavelli is trying to instruct a specific individual, Lorenzo de’ Medici, on how to be a suitable leader for his people. In the final chapter of the book, Machiavelli states that Lorenzo is Italy’s only hope.
    If the proposed motive for the book stated above is correct, I believe Machiavelli successfully laid out a suitable infrastructure for Italy’s new government. His methods for maintaining power may be cruel and immoral, and he did also provide other, more virtuous, proposals. However, he did insist using the evil methods, with which I highly disagree. Overall, I would not recommend this book, mainly due to my boredom throughout the read. However, for those interested in the layout of government, the book should be interesting and, perhaps, fantastic.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Machiavelli's infamous manual on political power

    The end justifies the means. This simple, pragmatic maxim underpins Niccol&#242; Machiavelli's classic work, The Prince. Written in 1513, when Machiavelli was a Florentine registry official, this handbook of political power provoked controversy like no other. Its central theme is how Renaissance rulers should act if they want to prevail. According to the author, a strong state requires a leader who is able to defend his power at all costs. Machiavelli maintains that a ruler may deceive, trick, oppress and even murder his opponents, as long as his misdeeds serve the state's stability. Without question, this short treatise offers enough material to demonize its author. However, Machiavelli does not champion unlimited ruthlessness and violence. Nor does he justify any objectives that seem to warrant violence. However, he also does not try to align his work to Christian morals as he examines the practice of statecraft and leadership. The term "Machiavellian" emerged in the 16th century to describe a devious, cruel tyrant, who uses any means to achieve his goals. When 20th century dictators praised Machiavelli's masterpiece, it came into disrepute, but in contemporary thought, its literary foresight makes it a classic. Modern readers will be able to understand the book's significance thanks to the accessible translation and annotations by Peter Bondanella. To put the treatise in context, Maurizio Viroli explains in his introduction, "For Machiavelli, the old way of building and preserving a regime.had to be abandoned in order to embrace a new conception.based on the principle that no state is a true dominion unless it is sustained by an army composed of citizens or subjects." getAbstract recommends The Prince to literature and history buffs, be they subjects or citizens, and to strategists and political scientists as a core work in their field.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2008

    The prince

    I first picked up this title because some of my friends had said that it was absolutely horrible, and I wanted to prove that I could read this. But after the fifth page, I was bored out of my mind. This book should change its title to, 'The worst book ever!!!' Reading this book is like reading a how to rule the world for dummies. Even the spark notes for this book was better. Basically this is just a horrible book and no one should torture themselves to read it. I would not let anyone read this book even if they are bored out of their minds.

    1 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2014

    For those who want to read the thoughts of a bad man.

    Machiavelli was vain, a liar, gained wealth and influence by any means.

    He was a key player in the government of Florence in the 15th century. Along with Medici, they were bank owners, they lent money out and got more back and broke bons doing it.

    He was an accosiate to the most corrupt popes in history. His interests outside himself were to preserve himself.

    Towards the end of his life he decided to write as to how to make it in a social class like that. A book of strategies of exploitation and coercian.

    I give it five stars because one cannot help but admire such a crook, and how honest he is about how he became one.

    True story too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2014

    good book

    You people should just reads this novel yourselves and write your own review on this book too. I enjoyed reading this novel very much. ShelleyMA

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  • Posted February 28, 2014

    Required reading ....

    A "must" read for any student of human behavior.

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  • Posted December 3, 2013

    Reading this book i can understand how Niccolo machiavelli is co

    Reading this book i can understand how Niccolo machiavelli is considered the father of political science and how his observations of rulers has affected our political atmosphere. His observations and examples arise in a time were wars for power and land were prevalent and allow for a very old understanding of the different types of political principalities and how to adequately rule over them. Anyone interested in politics or history should have this in their collection

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2013

    TO"WOW"

    What is wrong with reading about politics . Everyone should have the right to have at least basic political knowledge. To learn about the great minds of the prince.
    SETH SORON

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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