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Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was born in Florence. He served the Florentine republic as a 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 written in an attempt to gain favour with the Medicis and return to politics.
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.Read more ›
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 3.Read more ›
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This book was written by the famous Italian statesman Niccolo Machiavelli in 1531. This book is a classic and I was pleasantly surprised that the content was not dated and the principles translate easily into the modern worlds of business and politics. The author wrote this book as an instruction guide for governing princes in the 1500's when Italy was divided into city states and were being defeated by many foreign powers. I belive that the work is directed to Lorenzo de Medici by a letter included in the work and because at the end of the writing Machiavelli calls for a prince to unite and lead Italy against its oppressors. The book is not unethical as I had imagined from my understanding of the ruthlessness of Machiavellian ethics. The author is only explaining tactics to use to maintain power in a kingdom or city state that are pragmatic for his time period. Here are some examples from the book: 1. When conquering a territory keep the current laws and institutions in place, but eliminate all the family of the defeated prince. 2. When trouble is sensed ahead of time it can be easily remedied, if you wait for it to show itself, it is to late. 3. Whoever is responsible for another becoming powerful, ruins himself. 4. There is no surer way of keeping possesion than by devastation. 5. Men do you are harm either because they hate you or they fear you. 6. Violence must be inflicted once and for all, it must be over quickly. 7. Build your power through the people. 8. Power is maintained through religious institutions. 9. Neglect the art of war and you lose your state. 10. If you act virtuously, you will be undone by those who are not, make use of this or not according to need.Read more ›