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197 of 223 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Power Politics and Diplomacy, October 5, 2001
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This review is from: The Prince (Bantam Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
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. The types of armies A prince must always pay close attention to military affairs if he wants to remain in power. A prince must lay good foundation and those foundations include good laws and good armies. There cannot be good laws without good armies, and where there are good laws there must be good armies. The study of war should be a prince's main goal, for war is a rulers only art.If princes become too refined to study this art they loose their state. The types of armies are:
* Mercenaries or Auxiliaries (loaned to you by another ruler) are both dangerous and unreliable, as they will maintain their interests preceding yours.
* Native troops composed of ones own citizens or subjects are by far the most desirable kind.
4. Italy's political situation Michiavelli outlines and recommends the following
* The rulers of Italy have lost their states by ignoring the political and military principles.
* Fortune controls half of human affairs, but free will controls the rest, leaving the prince free to act. However, the few princes can adopt their actions to times
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