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The Prince (Penguin Classics) Reissue Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 770 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 858-1000012436
ISBN-10: 0140449159
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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.

Review

“[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
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 106 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (February 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449159
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449150
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (770 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
I won't expound the joys of reading Machiavelli since many other reviewers have done so. Peter Bondanella's translation is wonderfully readable, capturing both the cadence and elegant simplicity of Machiavelli. Bondanella has updated his previous translation of 'The Prince' (with Mark Musa), which can be found in the previous Oxford edition and in the Viking Portable Machiavelli. The introduction by Maurizio Viroli is a pleasant new feature. The introduction covers all of the basic points necessary for anyone new to Machiavelli, while including some of Viroli's own ideas about Machiavelli's use of contemporary principles of rhetoric. For a more detailed introduction to Machiavelli you may also want to try the paperback edition of Viroli's book Machiavelli (Founders of Modern Political and Social Thought), although the price is quite high for an introduction. Two excellent and inexpensive introductions are Quentin Skinner's "Machiavelli: A Very Short Introduction" (Oxford) and Cary Nederman's "Machiavelli: A Beginner's Guide"(Oneworld), both of which cover more than just 'The Prince'. Finally, the low price makes this edition a great value.

UPDATE 11/19/2011: MORE DETAIL

After having worked with this edition for a few years now, I feel the need to adjust my initial review in one way. The translation is not exactly the same as the one provided in 'The Portable Machiavelli' The Portable Machiavelli. 'The Portable Machiavelli' translation is based on the older edition done by Mark Musa, which Peter Bondanella contribute to as well. However, the Oxford World's Classics edition listed above is done solely by Bondanella.
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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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