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The Prince (Dover Thrift Editions)
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84 of 96 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 1997
Politicians usually read this text in the first political science class which they take. Actually, understanding Politics without understanding the principles in this text is an impossibility. A person who does not understand the principles of this text is too naive to understand why their leaders do what they do. Politics occurs in business, family life, and other settings, as well as government; Machiavelli's rules may be applied in all of these. Though living by these rules isn't necessary, a successful politician must act with mindfulness of their implications, or face failure. Considering the far reaching implications of Machiavelli's thought, one might wonder why elementary school children do not study "the Prince."
Many people don't have the guts to face what Machiavelli says. He presents the rules of 'hardball' politics; the only time that he mentions morality is when he describes the occasions in which a leader may need to fake it. Politicians have become so adept in following these rules that those whom they lead will often take offense at the suggestion that their leaders live by them. Read this book and understand the daily news.
"The Prince" is the quintessential text of Political Science. The Dover edition, though small, does not lack any of the origional text. It does lack the clutter of scholarly commentaries. It belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in the politics which impacts their life, but it will merely irritate the gullible
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2001
Machiavelli wrote this book for the Medici back in a time that is suppossed to be so different from today. Yet, The Prince is as applicable as the day it was wrote- maybe more so. It's a concise, almost surgical, guidebook to world domination. Superficially, this book is written like stereo instructions with precise directions on control of your enemies, followers, and friends. But, deeply, it will force any serious reader to take stock of the lengths neccessary to attain great power. Lives are flited at like pieces on a chess board with absolutely no uneccessary concern (if they can't hurt ya, screw 'em). Why, aside from that whole learning about world domination thing, this book is such a neccessary read for anybody with a stake in daily life is because this is the book your leaders sleep with under their pillow. There hasn't been an intelligent, powerful, and influential political leader that hasn't been influenced by Machiavelli and this book. It's very important to really wrap yourself around reality in reading this book so as to open your own eyes to what people do to lead (not just dictators, facists, and imperialists, but deomcrats and republicans.). This book is Political Reality 101- you must read it.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2001
Machiavelli's brilliant text (I read the N. H. Thomson translation, in the Dover Thrift edition) is sometimes disturbing, but ultimately brilliant in its analysis as to the achievement of political power. His arguments are rational and succinct, and it amazed me how relevant all this was to today's political landscape! Who could have thought that a document nearly 500 years old would survive and remain important.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2002
This is a must-read classic for anyone interested in history, business, politics or meglomania. It has inspired many of history's most powerful leaders (several of which, it has been said, slept with this book under their pillow) and with good reason. Despite it's age, Machiavelli's arguments and strategies can easily be adopted for use in today's world. Not to mention all the insight it provides for those who question history.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2014
Different than the original version in wording, so if you are buying this for class I suggest the original. One the plus side it is thin and despite small wording differences you still grasp the understanding of the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2014
Having read "The Prince" in college some years ago, it definitely left an impression on me. Although I understood Machiavelli was being /i/descriptive/i/ rather than /i/prescriptive/i/, I have routinely observed the application of the book's "principles" and "strategies" in everyday life, which renders that distinction effectively moot. Still, to name something "Machiavellian" is a lot like naming clunky monsters "Frankensteins." Pet peeve, but I digress.

The fact that the masses are being controlled as if taken from a page from this book troubles me less than the fact that the masses who are subject to this control do not recognize it, and rebel or in other ways call out their respective emperors for their shamelessness. It is an injustice.

I'd like to see this book required in civics courses - earlier than college - in order to reach the very folks who are most vulnerable to being manipulated into being grateful for their own exploitation, so they can better resist it.

Suffice it to say: If you haven't read "The Prince" yet, do. Then read "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley Wollstonecraft.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2013
All is fair in love in war, well this book is the ultimate hand book in understanding how to survive anywhere; in battle, in sports, at work, in business. If you understand and apply what you learn from this book to any of these things, then you will be successful in life. It has worked for me at work. Example, got a promotion in 3 months at a company that usually takes at least a year to get anywhere.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2011
Reading a piece of work from the intriguing Renaissance helps you get a better understanding of the era and the people in. This is especially true when the work is that of Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince. It is a classical piece of literature that every student or leader should own.

Niccolo Machiavelli was a privy to much of the political activity in Renaissance Italy. In 1512, the roller-coaster political ride of any state took a major dip for Machiavelli as he was banished for suspected treason. It was during this time that the author decided to write down a guide for state rulers. It called it The Prince.

Dedicated to Lorenzo De' Medici of the Italian ruling family, Machiavelli begins by describing the various types of states and principalities. A ruler might find himself over a state that he inherited, or he might find that he is now ruling over a state that he has conquered. These states cannot be handled the same way. Depending on the type of state, the ruler has to be able to adjust how he rules to be effective. He even explains how a ruler who acquires the throne by evil means has to handle his subjects differently if he is to stay in power.

What impresses me the most about The Prince is how Machiavelli does not make the perfect ruler where he has to fit in a one-size only mold. He shows that there are many situations that a ruler can come to power and each of those situations requires different action.

What kind of troops does the ruler want? Each type came with its pros and cons. Machiavelli discusses each of these. How does the ruler want to approach military matters? There are implications here. How does the ruler want to be viewed by those that are his subjects? That will dictate much of his actions.
He even discusses those that treat their subjects cruelly and what to expect as a result. Treachery, piousness, and weakness are all also discussed. Machiavelli approaches the entire subject objectively: "A prince, therefore, must be indifferent to the charge of cruelty if he is to keep his subjects loyal and united."

Machiavelli creates a handbook that rulers even today would benefit from reading. Ruling a state is not easy. The choices a ruler makes determine the how his reign will end. Throughout the book, he gives advice on how a ruler should be wary and wise: "Hence a prince ought to be a fox in recognizing snares and a lion in driving off wolves."

The fact that this work is obviously in the public domain, you will be able to quickly find free versions on the web. Having a hard copy has some advantages and is highly recommended personally. I started reading it online, but found that I wanted to mark certain passages and make notes in the margin. That can be electronically, but I enjoyed having the hard copy in my hand to examine and devour.

If you love history and politics, you really should read The Prince. You probably will agree that leaders of today would benefit from Machiavelli's advice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2015
This book should be read solely for the reason that it, like Sun Tzu and other early works of strategy, are considered "classics" and the educated individual is expected to be familiar with their contents and premises.

However, I would strongly advise against taking anything in this book literally.

The advice in this book may have fit a time and place long ago, a much different world. And it may have been suited to the noblemen it was intended for who had a staff of hundreds to help them carry out their treachery. It may even be suitable for some audiences today- like if you were a warlord in Africa.

But for anyone else, the advice here is simply dangerous. Trying to maneuver and backstab and hide your tracks, as advised in this book, is not only counterproductive- it is very likely that kind of behavior will get picked up on and get you fired.

A better read for "strategic advice" in the modern world (where voluntary cooperation yields the greatest benefits) is "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Covey.

Read Macchiavelli as part of your education, but don't believe a word of it unless you want to get yourself terminated at work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2014
The Prince is one part a brilliant reflection on the nature of man and in another way a sobering reflection on our need for power over others. Machiavelli talks frankly about destroying enemies and using cruelty to maintain power, he talks of saying one thing in public and doing something else in private. He talks about breaking the law when it is expedient and dividing opponents when necessary.

This is not an attempt to describe ideal political conditions, but rather to reveal the harsh truth about politics. If you read The Prince and compare it to other political biographies (like Presidents and Senators), there is a certain absurdity when you read the high minded diatribes and exhortations from political leaders and then see in The Prince the true nature of their ambitions.

But maybe it is not that simple. I think there is an allure in the cynicism of this book, and maybe the lines are a little more blurry. I think there are definitely people who will view The Prince as a blueprint for gaining power, but there are others who could look at this book as a blueprint to protect against the sort of tyranny described.
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