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The Essential Writings of Machiavelli (Modern Library Classics) Paperback

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Classics
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Modern Library Pbk. Ed edition (April 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812974239
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812974232
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The synonym for political cynicism, Niccolo Machiavelli wrote much more than The Prince, for which he is (in)famous. It leads off this anthology, which both spans his range of compositions--from state papers to histories to personal letters--and imparts a greater complexity to his insights on politics and human nature than his reputation would imply. To be sure, translator-editor Constantine includes Machiavelli's cold-eyed advice on how to plot a conspiracy, but that rumination on assassination is embedded in The Discourses (on ancient Roman historian Livy), which otherwise shows Machiavelli as antityranny and favorable toward liberty and republicanism. Machiavelli was more than a theorist, however. Constantine's healthy representation of Machiavelli's reports as, in effect, the foreign minister of Florence in the early 1500s--until thrown out of office and tortured by the Medici in 1513--illustrates Renaissance Italy's dangerous political environment, on which Machiavelli drew for his insights on political conduct. Since The Prince is a collection standard, you can get more bang for the buck with this fluently translated anthology. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) was born in Florence. He served the Florentine republic as secretary and second chancellor, but was expelled from public life when the Medici family returned to power in 1512. His most famous work, The Prince, was a written attempt to reingratiate himself with the Medicis and return to politics.

Peter Constantine is the recipient of a PEN Translation Prize and a National Translation Award. His Modern Library translations include Voltaire’s Canidide, Tolstoy’s The Cossacks, and Gogol’s Taras Bulba. He lives in New York City.

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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Retired Reader on December 14, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent edition of the works of Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527 CE) published by Modern Library in 2007. It includes not only a complete translation of his most famous work, "The Prince", but large sections of his less famous "Discourses" and "Florentine Histories." It also provides a good selection of his essays and papers. The quality of the translation work appears quite good and done with a good deal of care. The notes provided are quite helpful as well.
Machiavelli is a name that some consider synonymous with guile, cynicism, and tyranny. In point of fact he was a romantic who was an admirer of the early Roman Republic. He was a supporter of republican principles and a Florentine patriot his entire life. After Lorenzo de Medici overthrew the Florentine Republic in 1513 (CE), he exiled Machiavelli to his estates outside of Florence. Such was Machiavelli's love for his city that he was willing to ignore his republican principals (at least temporarily) and join the Medici administration of the city. "The Prince" his most famous work and the principal source of his reputation as a cynic and ruthless politician was written to ingratiate him with Lorenzo.
Now before adding `hypocrite' to the other characterizations of Machiavelli, one should understand that the book contained the only gift that he could afford to offer Lorenzo, his knowledge based on his analysis of history. Machiavelli was a student of the history of Roman Republic and Empire. He was also a close observer of human behavior both in the past and in his contemporary Renaissance Italy. If his analysis of history and motivation appears cynical, it was also in tune with his times and reflected contemporary attitudes.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Nelson on October 30, 2009
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I firmly believe that most of Machiavelli's works were written with the goal of bettering the position of his beloved Florence in the horribly complex political and cultural milieu in which he was forced to operate, and knew extremely well from his diplomacy on behalf of Florence. Europe was changing more than it ever had. The new world was opening up. The Renaissance was in its infancy, but starting to gather momentum.

What he did was combine the works of Livy with his own observations, which resulted in The Prince. I believe The Prince was written in hopes of obtaining some sort of position with the Medici, and thereby have some sort of influence, even if only minimal, on the diplomatic and political conduct of Florence, in hopes of influencing things to her benefit.

He was the first to dispassionately list the real, sometimes loathsome things even a good ruler was at times forced to resort to in order to secure long term benefit to his political entity. He also said it was better to have a government that was not always forced to resort to these things by dint of its citizens being satisfied with their ruler. A republic was the most stable in his mind.

Machiavelli was the first real political theorist, and if a wise ruler had practiced some of what Machiavelli had concluded, maybe Italy and Florence might not have had the subsequent three hundred years or so of political turmoil and domination by others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Emily J. Ditzler on November 1, 2013
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In 1469-1527 this great man's writings explain what and how politics effects our life, good or bad. It also is very eerie because it seems as if he was describing today. I had never read a book beside the Bible that helped me to understand different kinds or rulers. Unbelievable!
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This is not a perfect coverage for all his writings. However, his essential writings were carefully selected by the editors. If you have interests in reneissance politics, this book would be a good introduction. The formatting and footnotes are excellent.
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