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The Prince (Hackett Classics)

651 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0872203167
ISBN-10: 0872203166
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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 --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.


The translation is lively and readable and makes the pithy, bracing, and forceful aspects of Machiavelli's thought accessible to nonspecialists. --Michael C. Downs, Indiana University

The best edition of The Prince that I have ever read. Wootton's translation is lively and easy to read, and his introduction is provocative and engaging. --Angelo Louisa, University of Nebraska, Omaha


Product Details

  • Series: Hackett Classics
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. (March 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872203166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872203167
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (651 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #460,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

648 of 689 people found the following review helpful By Wayne A. Smith VINE VOICE on 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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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By John Russon on February 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
Machiavelli was a moderately significant figure in Renaissance Florence at the time that city was busy shaping the essence of the modern world. His works (all of them, but especially the Prince) capture much of what is pivotal in this culture. The book is advice to princes on how to seize and hold power. Mostly, that means you need to trick people and use ruthless violence intelligently. (He suggests that, if you could invent something like the Catholic Church, you'd be in a specially good position to set up a rule that would draw a lot of allegiance and a lot of taxes, would have no responsibilities, and would never end.) It's great reading as literature and as history, and also incredibly subtle and insightful as an analysis of human psychology. Mostly, this work praises cunning intelligence; it is also written for the reader who possesses the same. Consequently, it is a book that requires real patience and attention if its real treasures are to be found. Mansfield's translation is, I believe, the best for allowing one to look for the inner depth of the book. The translation is inspired by the work of Leo Strauss, and, as is typical of Straussian translations, it is a translation that is extremely careful to reflect the subtleties of the language of the original in order to retain their complex intimations etc. This is the translation I use when I teach the book because of its precision and elegance.Read more ›
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198 of 224 people found the following review helpful By M. A. ZAIDI on 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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