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The Prince (Bantam Classics) [Mass Market Paperback]

by Niccolo Machiavelli, Daniel Donno
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 1, 1984 0553212788 978-0553212785
Here is the world's most famous master plan for seizing and holding power.  Astonishing in its candor The Prince even today remains a disturbingly realistic and prophetic work on what it takes to be a prince . . . a king . . . a president.  When, in 1512, Machiavelli was removed from his post in his beloved Florence, he resolved to set down a treatise on leadership that was practical, not idealistic.  In The Prince he envisioned would be unencumbered by ordinary ethical and moral values; his prince would be man and beast, fox and lion.  Today, this small sixteenth-century masterpiece has become essential reading for every student of government, and is the ultimate book on power politics.

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The Prince (Bantam Classics) + The Communist Manifesto + The Conquest of New Spain (Penguin Classics)
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Editorial Reviews Review

When Lorenzo de' Medici seized control of the Florentine Republic in 1512, he summarily fired the Secretary to the Second Chancery of the Signoria and set in motion a fundamental change in the way we think about politics. The person who held the aforementioned office with the tongue-twisting title was none other than Niccolò Machiavelli, who, suddenly finding himself out of a job after 14 years of patriotic service, followed the career trajectory of many modern politicians into punditry. Unable to become an on-air political analyst for a television network, he only wrote a book. But what a book The Prince is. Its essential contribution to modern political thought lies in Machiavelli's assertion of the then revolutionary idea that theological and moral imperatives have no place in the political arena. "It must be understood," Machiavelli avers, "that a prince ... cannot observe all of those virtues for which men are reputed good, because it is often necessary to act against mercy, against faith, against humanity, against frankness, against religion, in order to preserve the state." With just a little imagination, readers can discern parallels between a 16th-century principality and a 20th-century presidency. --Tim Hogan


“[Machiavelli] can still engage our attention with remarkable immediacy, and this cannot be explained solely by the appeal of his ironic observations on human behaviour. Perhaps the most important thing is the way he can compel us to reflect on our own priorities and the reasoning behind them; it is this intrusion into our own defenses that makes reading him an intriguing experience. As a scientific exponent of the political art Machiavelli may have had few followers; it is as a provocative rhetorician that he has had his real impact on history.” –from the Introduction by Dominic Baker-Smith

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 166 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Classics (August 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553212788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553212785
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
623 of 661 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic Map of How Power is Achieved and Maintained August 14, 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
There are two good reasons to read Machiavelli's classic, "The Prince."
First, so you'll know what everyone is referring to when you come across the adjective "machiavellian" in news stories or other media. This adjective has become so commonplace (and overused) it is almost a cliche. Also, most who use it have never read this letter from Machiavelli, a Rennaisance courtier to his Prince (written from prison), but they insist on peppering writings with this noun turned adjective so much that as a matter of clearly understanding what is meant by the term, famiality with this brief treatise is helpful.
Second, this book does describe most (not all) power situations very well. From politics to corporations to most settings where advancement, influence and control exist, Machiavelli's observations and rules apply.
You will also discover that Machiavelli was not as evil as he is understood to be in popular thought. What he was doing was describing the rules of the game that have existed and always will exist for many situations involving selfish humans in competition. Machiavelli's rules are neither good nor bad in themselves -- they describe a process. What is good or bad is how those who master Machiavelli's rules use their power and position, in a society that tempers actions according to law and basic Judeo-Christian principals. When those principals do not exist (as in Nazi Germany, the Middle Ages or under Communism, or by those who refuse to live by these constraints), Machiavelli's rules take on their demonic and evil cloak; usually because they serve demonic and evil ends. In societies where positive constraints exist, for example the U.S. political system, Machiavellian behavior can produce excellent results.
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196 of 222 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Power Politics and Diplomacy October 5, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Based upon Michiavelli's first hand experience as an emissary of the Florentine Republic to the courts of Europe The Prince analyzes the often violent means by which political power is seized and retained, and the circumstance in which it is lost. Because The Prince is a political commentary, and not a work of fiction, Michiavelli does not use "characters" in the sense of a novel or a short story. Instead he draws his examples from the current political and social events, as well as from history. His characters are the political leaders of his time. The book is a declaration in plain language the conduct of great men and the principles of princely governments. The book can be divided into four sections.
1. The types of principalities. Michiavelli lists four types of principalities.
* Hereditary principalities, which are inherited by the ruler.
* Mixed principalities, territories that are annexed to the rulers existing territories.
* New principalities which may be acquired by several methods: by own power, by the power of others by criminal acts or extreme cruelty, or by the will of the people
* Ecclesiastical principalities, namely the papal states belonging to the catholic churches.
2. The character and behavior of the prince. Michiavelli recommends the following character and behavior for princes:
* It is better to be miserly than generous.
* It is better to be cruel than merciful.
* It is better to break promises if keeping than would be against ones interest.
* Princes must avoid making them hated and despised; the goodwill of the people is a better defense than any fortress.
* Princes should undertake great projects to enhance their reputation.
* Princes should choose wise advisors to confide and consult with
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63 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cynic, Realist, Patriot March 29, 2000
By C. Colt
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"The Prince" is one of the view books from college that I've actually kept. It is splendid reading on several levels. First, one appreciates Machiavelli as a problem solver. Italy is divided; what is the most practical and efficient means for a wise prince to consolidate his power and unify it? But one also appreciates Machiavelli as a person. A florentine intellectual banished to the countryside--it wouldn't be a bad life for some of us, but to him it must have been torture.
I was once asked whether Machiavelli was a cynic, a realist, or a patriot, and I believe the correct answer is all three. Much of Machiavelli's advice contains an under current of cynicism and ruthlessness, and this has undoubtedly come to be the dominant portion of his reputation. One of the terms for devil, "Old Nick" is derived from Machiavelli. When one speaks of destroying an enemy or performing a ruthless, sneaky act, that person is likely to be called "machiavellian". But Machiavelli's advice was as realistic as one could get in those times. This was an era when despots and mercenaries ruled by force and assasination. It was a time when popes fathered children and carved out little principalities for themselves. One was not going to remain in power, much less get ahead of one's enemies by being virtuous. It isn't that Machiavelli despised virtue so much as he realized how useless it was in the political context of the times. But in the end Machiavelli was also an idealist. He dreamed of a united Italy under a strong (and practical) prince. When he dedicated his treatise to Rodorigo Borgia, he did so in the hopes that he might be the man to perform such a task.
This book provides timeless practical advice for anyone who wishes to succeed in a hostile, divisive environment. It also illuminates the peculiar political circumstances of Renaissance Italy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars We lost the book we had and found it here.
This is a great site for books. Our local bookstores have closed. We have a local box bookstore, it has a terrible selection of books. I do not waste my time going there. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Gerard S. Zabik
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for future plots against King and Country
Have lofty aspirations of world dominance?

Dream of the laments of your enemies?

Do you want to learn to bend the masses to your will? Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ryan C.
5.0 out of 5 stars The required read for many in college.
A good read even after being out of school many years. Has helped me understand the dynamics of street gangs. A must read for any of the gang-bangers on my caseload.
Published 3 months ago by Brad E. Garner
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
I really liked this book. It was interesting to see the strategies of control employed at the time and was intriguing to think of how they could be used in modern times. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mark Twain
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest books...
I hear people defering to "The Art of War" or other books for leadership tips. "The Prince" is full of excellent understanding that pertains directly to military... Read more
Published 4 months ago by H'Oscar
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy this from Amazon
This product is great, but buy it from someone other than Amazon. Customer service is terrible and refuses to provide any help whatsoever if anything goes wrong. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Paul C Vigil
5.0 out of 5 stars A REAList Book , must have in your collection
I am not your average reader but I am a college student. This book was a mandatory read for a class but was mentioned in class. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jorge G
5.0 out of 5 stars good
Great book! I highly recommend to anyone who likes to read books like these. Very good quality as well. Highly recommend!
Published 5 months ago by Pogos
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books
This is one of my favorite books, ever. I find myself reading it about once a year. The insights and philosophies Machiavelli had for politics can translate, to an extent, into the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Justin Greene
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read for the leaders!
Great perspective of what a leader must do and, never try to do because "The multitude is wiser and more constant than a Prince"
Published 6 months ago by Rey
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On some level, I both agree and disagree with your statement. For example, despite the military similarities you mentioned, I also see the concept of keeping the majority on your side to stay in power as extraordinarily relevent. It's pure politics. Also, while we may not kill entire... Read more
Apr 9, 2009 by Edward M. Coffey |  See all 3 posts
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