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.
|Publisher:||Martino Fine Books|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.31(d)|
About the Author
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was an Italian Renaissance philosopher, politician, military strategist, poet, playwright, and historian. However, Macchiavelli is most well-known for his politics, as he is often cited as the father of modern political theory. His works even inspired the term "Macchiavellian," which today is used to describe cunning or deceitful actions in the field of politics.
John Lotherington has written widely on Renaissance literature and history, including co-authored surveys of sixteenth-century Europe, Years of Renewal, and sixteenth-century England, The Tudor Years. He is at present a Program Director at the Salzburg Global Seminar.
Read an Excerpt
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
Seventeenth Chapter: Concerning Cruelty and Clemency, and Whether It Is Better to Be Loved Than Feared
...Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed, they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life, and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you. And that prince, who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are obtained by payments, and not by greatness or by nobility of mind, may indeed be earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need cannot be relied upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails....
Twenty-First Chapter: How a Prince Should Conduct Himself So as to Gain Renown
...A prince is also respected when he is either a true friend or a downright
enemy, that is to say, when, without any reservation, he declares himself in
favour of one party against the other; which course will always be more
advantageous than standing neutral; because if two of your powerful neighbours
come to blows, they are of such a character that, if one of them conquers, you
have either to fear him or not. In either case it will always be more
advantageous for you to declare yourself and to make war strenously; because, in
the first case, if you do not declare yourself, you will invariably fall a prey
to the conqueror, to the pleasure and satisfaction of his who has been conquered,
and you will have no reasons to offer, nor anything to protect or to shelter you.
Because he who conquers does not want doubtful friends who will not aid him in
the time of trial; and he who loses will not harbour you because you did not
willingly, sword in hand, court his fate....
Translation by: W.K. Marriott
Table of Contents
- 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
What People are Saying About This
I still consider Atkinson's translation of The Prince the best of the many . . . out there, especially with its extensive and extraordinarily valuable commentary. (John M. Najemy, Professor of History, Cornell University, 2007)
This edition of the The Prince has three distinct and disparate objectives: to provide a fresh and accurate translation; to analyze and find the roots of Machiavelli's thought; and to collect relevant extracts from other works by Machiavelli and some contemporaries, to be used to illuminate and explicate the text. The objectives are all reached with considerable and admirable skill. The reader senses Professor Atkinson's empathy and feeling for even the tiniest movements in Machiavelli's mind. Professor Atkinson has done a great service to students and teachers of Machiavelli, who should certainly welcome this as the most useful edition of The Prince in English. (Mario Domandi, Italica, 1978)
Reading Group Guide
Readers have differed sharply in their assessments of The Prince, as well as the character of its author, Niccolò Machiavelli, since the book's publication in 1532. In his own time, Machiavelli was known as the author of histories, poems, and plays (including a widely produced popular comedy). Highly respected as a statesman, he represented Florence on foreign missions and wrote reports admired for their style and substance. But the Catholic Church censured Machiavelli for his criticism of Christianity and for the tone and content of the political counsel he offered, especially in The Prince. By the seventeenth century, the name Machiavelli had become synonymous with diabolical cunning, a meaning that it still carries today. Modern readers exhibit the same ambivalence about Machiavelli himself, alternately recognizing him as a precursor of the discipline of political science and recoiling from the ruthless principles he frequently articulates. Both views of Machiavelli, as innovative modernist and cynical politician, have their origins in The Prince.
Machiavelli wrote The Prince in 1513, just after he was forced to leave Florence as a political exile. Dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici, the book is Machiavelli's advice to the current ruler of Florence on how to stay in power. It was also his effort, though unsuccessful, to gain an advisory post in the Medici government. The Prince was not published until five years after Machiavelli's death. Leaders as diverse as Oliver Cromwell, Frederick the Great, Louis XIV, Napoleon I, Otto von Bismarck, and John F. Kennedy have read, contemplated, and debated Machiavelli's ideas.
Machiavelli's treatise makes a clear break from the Western tradition of political philosophy that preceded him. Beginning with Plato and Aristotle, the thinkers of this tradition were concerned with issues of justice and human happiness, and with the constitution of the ideal state. Until its final chapter, The Prince is a shockingly direct how-to manual for rulers who aim either to establish and retain control of a new state or to seize and control an existing one. Rather than basing his advice on ethical or philosophical principles, Machiavelli founds his political program on real-life examples. When explaining what a prince should or should not do in pursuit of his ambitions, Machiavelli cites the actions of well-known historical and contemporary leaders, both successful and unsuccessful. Throughout The Prince, Machiavelli explicitly aims to give an unsentimental analysis of actual human behavior and the uses of power. "I have thought it proper," Machiavelli writes of a prince's conduct toward his subjects, "to represent things as they are in a real truth, rather than as they are imagined" (p. 49).
The accuracy of Machiavelli's view of human nature and the social world is debatable. Is Machiavelli simply being clear-sighted and objective, or is he providing spurious justifications for the worst impulses of those who seek power? In The Prince, the results of actions are what matter. Murder, the incitement of quarrels among citizens, the purchase of temporary loyalties, and betrayal: all are permissible—indeed, recommended—if they advance the prince's goal of attaining and securing power. In Machiavelli's view, the preservation of the state warrants such actions, since the state is necessary to ensure security, peace, and order for the people. He sets the ambitions of the prince and the need of the people for order side by side, seeing the two as complementary. Perhaps they are, or perhaps this equation is merely a self-serving way for those who crave power to defend injustices. To what extent the means that Machiavelli promotes in The Prince are justified by the ends, and whether the means actually bring about the ends, remain open questions.
Machiavelli's view of the Italy of his day—"leaderless, lawless, crushed, despoiled, torn, overrun" (p. 83)—underwrites the advice he gives in The Prince. It also leads him to end his treatise with an "Exhortation to liberate Italy from the barbarians." Machiavelli calls for "a new prince...to introduce a new order" (p. 82) that would bring unity and stability to the often warring city-states of the Italian peninsula. In this portion of The Prince and in some of his other writings, Machiavelli appears more idealistic and friendly toward a form of government that would give citizens a say. In his Discourses, Machiavelli portrays the ideal government as a republic that allows groups with differing opinions to speak openly.
Machiavelli thus sets the stage for an enduring discussion among his readers. Is he best understood as a seeker of unity and peace, concerned to make his advice practical and effective? Is he an opportunist offering aid and comfort to would-be tyrants? Do the moral and political goals he outlines in the final chapter of The Prince justify the actions he advocates in the preceding chapters? These questions seem destined to remain with us as long as Machiavelli's book continues to occupy a central place in modern political thought.
ABOUT NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI
What we know of the personal character of Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) is at odds with the treachery implied in the adjective derived from his name. Evidence suggests that Machiavelli was an upright man, a good father, and a husband who lived in affectionate harmony with his wife, Marietta Corsini, who bore him six children. Throughout his life, Machiavelli was a zealous republican. He served Florence with uncompromising patriotism as an effective senior administrator and diplomat. But his single-minded service to the republic of Florence ended when the army of the Holy League of Pope Julius II returned the Medici family to power as benevolent despots of the city. In the resulting political purge, Machiavelli not only lost his position in the city government but, when a conspiracy against the Medicis was uncovered in early 1513, he also was accused of complicity simply because his name was on a list taken from the conspirators. Thrown into prison and subjected to the kind of torture that forced blameless men to confess their guilt, Machiavelli nevertheless maintained his innocence and was eventually released.
Reduced to poverty, and with restrictions placed on his movements around the city, Machiavelli sought refuge in the little property, outside Florence, that he had inherited from his father. There he produced not only The Prince, which he completed between the spring and autumn of 1513, but also a variety of political commentaries and histories and a number of well-received literary works. After the death of Pope Julius II in 1513, the son of Lorenzo de'Medici (called the Magnificent) became Pope Leo X—one of three popes the Medici family produced. It was Machiavelli's hope that by dedicating The Prince to Lorenzo de'Medici, son of the most famous of all the Medicis, he would obtain an office that would return him to public life. That hope was in vain. Machiavelli died at the age of 58, still exiled from Florence.
- Why does Machiavelli support his arguments by citing examples of real historical and contemporary rulers? Why does he emphasize his "long acquaintance with contemporary affairs and a continuous study of the ancient world" (p. 1)?
- Does The Prince present justice as nothing more than the interest of the stronger?
- What constraints on a prince's freedom of action does Machiavelli recognize?
- Does Machiavelli believe that ethical considerations have a role to play in the conduct of a prince?
- According to Machiavelli, what roles do fate and fortune play in human life?
- Does Machiavelli believe that political entities are created by human effort, or do they exist naturally?
- In securing the state, to what extent should a prince be motivated by the happiness of the people?
- Why does Machiavelli believe that a prince must be willing to use force to achieve his ends?
- According to Machiavelli, do moral ends justify immoral means?
- How does Machiavelli define virtue?
- Why does Machiavelli end his work with a plea for the House of Medici to liberate Italy?
- Under what circumstances is someone charged with upholding the law justified in breaking it?
- Must political power always be a corrupting influence on those who possess it?
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION
I Samuel and I Kings (Old Testament); Matthew 22 (New Testament)
These books in the Bible deal with the tensions between religious and political loyalties.
In this exploration of the ideal state, Book V, concerning the maintenance of political power, is an especially pertinent antecedent to Machiavelli.
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651)
The author presents a grim vision of human beings in their natural state, which becomes the basis for his argument that a practically omnipotent government is necessary to secure a basic level of justice and elementary freedoms.
John Locke, The Second Treatise of Civil Government (1690)
Chapter 14 examines the circumstances in which government can act in violation of the law or in the absence of law. Chapter 19 concerns the right of the people to overthrow a ruler or government when either has abused his power.
James Madison, "The Federalist No. 10" (in The Federalist) (1787-88)
This essay addresses the problem of factions that inevitably develop among citizens and the ways of controlling their detrimental effects without infringing on liberty.
Plato, The Statesman
One of Plato's major works of political philosophy, this dialogue explores the nature and virtue of a king or statesman.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some authors make the bestseller lists; some win Nobel prizes; only a precious few are eternalized in the language itself. Machiavelli earned his place in our consciousness and our vocabulary with a single work, ¿The Prince¿, at once a shocking, rivetting, thought-provoking and ultimately unforgettable portrayal of power politics in the Renaissance that remains as fresh and relevant now as it was in the early 16th century. Machiavelli wrote from internal exile after losing his government position with the dissolution of the Florentine republic and the return to power of the Medicis. Having survived imprisonment and torture, he was allowed to retire to his farm where he grappled with the sudden change in his fortunes and took refuge in a study of the lessons he had learned while in government. The result was ¿The Prince¿, essentially a master plan for attaining and holding power. Most infamous for Machiavelli¿s refusal to bow to either sentiment or idealism, the handbook for the mega-ambitious stresses the essentially practical reality of power and warns that "it is often necessary to act against mercy, against faith, against humanity, against frankness, against religion, in order to preserve the state."
Does Machiavelli deserve his sinister reputation? Is he advocating evil in this book? Or only describing it? His focus is not on defending, but on acquiring and governing; that is, on imperial conquest and dominance over others. This book is about aggression. He claims that human conditions do not permit princes to be good, and he is right about that. They never will. But do human conditions compel people to become princes? In seizing a state, he says, cruelty is necessary. No doubt this is true, but is seizing a state necessary? Is it moral? Machiavelli's model prince was Cesare Borgia, a ruthless imperialist, mass murderer, and rapist. Machiavelli admired him for his power, then criticized him when he lost his power. He praises King Ferdinand of Spain for his "pious cruelty," calling it an "admirable example." Yes, Machiavelli deserves his sinister reputation. He worshipped power, believing it to be beyond good and evil. This book is a portrayal of statecraft as it is practiced in the real world, but it is also a how-to book on gaining and maintaining dominance over others. It raises interesting issues, without necessarily resolving them. It can be useful as food for thought, but don't try this at home!
Very gritty, earthy book on the means of gaining and holding power. Deals with humans as they are as the introduction points out. A lot of the points made in the book are in use in todays politics eventhough people may not want to think so. Like every book that I think in general misses the mark, there is substantial grains of truth in it.
I'm fascinated with politics, but I can't read this edition. The font and the paragraph structure are distracting from the actual words. My eyes would not let me finish it.
As has been true the past 500 years, any would-be power monger's bedside table unadorned with a copy of this slim treatise is shamefully naked. This is an excellent translation by Peter Constantine, filled with helpful footnotes and capped by a solid bibliography.
I *think* this book is wicked, and I *hope* that all who choose to read it choose to see its wickedness.And I do *not* feel guilty for saying a book is Bad when I believe that its ideas would be harmful if employed against human beings. There is nothing heroic about being immoral, no matter what Shrewd Policies say so, or what Glorious Nation says so. Also, comparing Machiavelli to Baldassare Castiglione, as is often done, seems to me to be quite mad. Would it not be better to compare him with Hitler or Stalin or Mussolini or Nero or *any other Caesar*? Were not all these men Princes with a Capital P? I mean, if I were rating him based on how well he does as a propaganda writer for an imaginary dictatorship, I'd have said that he's done rather well with *all that*. But being a propaganda writer for an imaginary dictatorship is worthless, and being a real propaganda writer for a real dictorship is worse than worthless, is it not?But, oh, wait, I forgot, since it's written in a good style in some foreign original, and since its ideas would have helped the Florentine elite out-flank the Papacy and the French several eternities ago, we must surely make ourselves forget what fair flowers are trampled down into the earth by this kind of thinking. Although I'll say that I personally found it to be basically boring (especially the random-Renaissance history-of-backstabbing stuff that I found difficult to care about) and sometimes stupid (the citizens of a conquered republic will want to get their lost freedom back, but if you go to live in the same city as them, your semi-divine presence will magically make them lose their desire for freedom), stupid even from his own point of view. (If you do this, nothing good will happen for you, but if you only do this, nothing but good things will happen. It's like he's one of those guys trying to sell you a watch--like he's going to open up his coat and it'll be full of watches, and he'll say, 'Wanna buy a watch? A watch like one of these will make you powerful and strong, so that nothing bad will happen to you.' He's like a tinker or a knacker who thinks he's the Grand Doge of Doge-land.) It's also so abstract that it can't be anything other than theory (somehow I think it would have to be different to be social or political science), and yet it is so mucked up in details and precedents and examples that it's hardly good as theory, either. Not to mention the fact that he never even explains what you'd want a prince for, or what good a prince is meant to aim at. If "every art...seems to aim at some good" and all arts have some purpose (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, first sentence) what is the purpose of the prince's art, and what good does he aim at? Machiavelli almost doesn't have an answer, and he doesn't even bother to address the question, except for the nationalist agitprop bit at the end, which I hope no-one mistakes for philosophy. Also, the odd forays into military matters are to me little more than tokens that this man did not really know what sort of book he wanted to write, or what purpose he was trying to accomplish. A dilettante, if I may use the Italian word. Although I suppose that even a dilettante, armed with delusions of gradeur and with guns in his hands, might be dangerous and harmful enough, but I certainly do not see what good might ever have come from this. Furthermore, some people seem to think that Machiavelli was good to be amoral (read that phrase again) because he 'liberated' politics from religion and morality and so on. My only reply is that no-one can compel you to read Aristotle's 'Nicomachean Ethics' before you read his 'Politics', or force you to read Epictetus before trying to get through John Locke--and yet anyone who seriously thinks that politics has no connection at all, whatsoever, with ethics, needs their head examined for holes, or dents. Or, better yet, such people should be encouraged to read a few books about the Nazis or something. 'Be generous wit
The definitive classic in binary political logic. But then as someone once said, there are 10 kinds of people, those who understand binary and those who don't.
Cold, calculating, and objectively cruel. You can't help but to think about today's political leaders.
The Prince is a staple in politics and political reading. While Machiavelli and his principals aren't the best, they're still in use today, showing the timelessness of The Prince.
Clothed in the indignation of a dearth of ethics, Machiavelli's great masterpiece was met with contempt by his contemporaries, horrified by the preponderances of this political idealist. Coining the idea that the "ends may justify the means," Machiavelli proposes that rulers should not be restrained by the bounds civilians posess hindering their actions. According to Machiavelli, rulers have the wherewithal to determine the best course of action for their constituents. Correspondingly the ruler should seek to be both loved and feared by their populous but always in the presence of clear thought and cool logic endowed with the desire to benefit their people through the best course of action available. Ultimately, the Prince should have the final say on matters choosing based on his personal digression, not the often muddled yearns of the populous.Political idealists of today's era recognize the sacrifices necessary to provide for the people. They recognize, as Machiavelli did in the dawn of the 16th Century, that executives cannot afford to be restricted by blind morality, compromising the well-being of their people. However many people claim that Machiavelli's work is too harsh, too obdurate, leaving supposedly infallible executives in control of a suppressed and subservient people. In response, Machiavelli does not openly welcome immorality. Far from it. Machiavelli offers the ability to rulers to choose an immoral action in the exhaustion of every other alternative. Only then do the ends justify the means.The Prince's only flaw is that it was written by Machiavelli as a plea for a position in the Medici regime of 16th Century Florence. The Prince was a means to an end for Machiavelli written with an air of obsequiousness commending the glories of Medici in the hopes of a return to politics. Machiavelli writes a well-thought out political treatise documenting escapes out of the political conundrums that befuddle even the most able and adroit rulers. Machiavelli's message resounds with increasing clarity as the problems facing modern executives grow increasingly cryptic.
Six out of ten.
Typically described as a guidebook for politicians, it's insight into people and groups does make some of the lessons quite applicable to everyday life, for example dealing with workmates or family or to help understand exactly what the PM's latest communication was meant to achieve. Honestly, however, the chapters on keeping mercenaries loyal is of little benefit to anyone.
Other people have reviewed The Prince's content. I gave this book four stars; I would have given it five if the translation were better. This edition (Dover Thrift) is certainly economical, but the sentences are long, convoluted, and reverse subject and object. It took me a while to get through even though it runs only 71 pages. I had to sit there and wrestle with the verbiage as I went.Otherwise, thought-provoking and a handbook of international relations.
Some things never change, and so it is with The Prince by Machiavelli. Completely deplete of any moral concerns, this short book is the complete "how-to" manual in governing the masses through manipulation, cruelty and random acts of beneficence. A must read for anyone interested in the realms of politics. Scary stuff.
My job requires me to function in a highly politicized work environment. I work with a large group of department heads, providing counsel on issues pertaining to the fine art of people management. Some of them are philosopher kings and others are callous despots. I have found that rereading THE PRINCE every few years reminds me of the basics. Whether the princes are in the courts of the Italian peninsula during the Renaissance or in the offices of a large corporation at the dawn of the 21st century, people with authority act in similar ways. There is much to be learned from this amazing little book.
Princely Rule for Dummies, this scientific analysis of a social system is actually well-suited as a leadership guide to anyone wishing to gain and hang onto an important position of power in many areas of life, including politics and business. In this book, Machiavelli discusses the themes of power, human nature, warcraft, free will, virtue and more. It was originally written specifically for Lorenzo de Medici with his future as well as the government of 16th century Italy in mind, and does not necessarily include an all-encompassing view of Machiavelli's political thinking. In fact, based on his other works, I think we can conclude that the author preferred a republic form of government. Even within The Prince, Machiavelli tells us the purpose of politics is to promote a common good. A prince must strive to be virtuous, but virtue (or admired trait) should never take precedence over the state. For example, while generosity may be admired by others, it can be detrimental to the future of the state and should therefore be avoided.I wasn't sure how to rate this book as I'm not a political science major nor out to get ahead in business. It was thought-provoking and actually quite easy to read, considering the time of its authorship as well as the subject matter. The author provides many examples of great and not-so-great leaders and their power struggles, as well, so I'd definitely recommend it for anyone studying politics or history.
I highlighted this book like crazy. It's not necessarily that I agree with what he says in practice, but rather that the principles which he enumerates can be redefined and reused in a modern context, replacing "the prince" with "the people." I could write a long, lengthy treatise on the matter. I will say though that move of it is taken up in examples which are rather tedious in the process of reading itself.
Machiavelli's beautiful little treatise was an act of patriotism to the despairing Italy, not to mention a sort of present for the Medici in Machiavelli's hopes for job opportunity. I find it is a most interesting and enjoyable, if not down right delightful read. I'm 100% positive America's Left and Right (or, more precisely the power that creates the illusion of a Left and Right) practice Machiavellian tactics day in and day out. This manual has a notoriously famous list of readers that you could probably guess. I hope the rebellion that is being born will not need to use Machiavelli's political tactics, but to overcome the current powers, it may well be a necessary evil. Enjoy, be sure that your leaders did and that they have quite handsomely prospered from Niccolo!
Interesting book - always portrayed as a bloody, gory story about an individual, it is in fact more of a textbook for the aspiring prince (written as a missive to the Medicis who had been returned to power in Florence, by Machiavelli, who was hoping to regain a position himself in their court). It refers rather bluntly to certain acts which would be required of anyone in such a position - such as elimination of threats and their families - but not in any graphic manner. It is a dispassionate treatment, but fascinating for all that.