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Discourses on Livy

3.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226500362
ISBN-10: 0226500365
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Italian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Niccolo Machiavelli was an Italian politician, diplomat, founding father of political science, and author of the preeminent political treatise, The Prince. Born in Florence, Italy, Machiavelli held many government posts over his lifetime and often took leading roles in important diplomatic missions. During his time visiting other countries and nation states, Machiavelli was exposed to the politics of figures like Ceasare Borgia and King Louis XII, experiences which would inform his writings on state-building and politics. Machiavelli s political career came to an abrupt end when the Medici overthrew Florence, and he was held as a prisoner under the new regime. Tortured for a short time, he was released without admitting to any crime or treason. At this point, Machiavelli retired and turned to intellectual and philosophical pursuits, producing his two major works, The Prince and Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy. He died in 1527 at the age of 58.

Harvey C. Mansfield is William J. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Government at Harvard University. He is the author of many books including, Statesmanship and Party Government, The Spirit of Liberalism, and Taming the Prince and is the translator of works by Machiavelli and Tocqueville.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (January 28, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226500365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226500362
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A careful translation, in modern English, of the Italian classic by Machiavelli. The translation strives for both accuracy and clarity, and the result is a modern English translation that never stoops to colloquial abstraction. The short introductory essay provides a helpful start for exploration of a complex work. The index of proper names, and the glossary (providing the translated Italian word beside the English) is thorough and very useful. In addition, the print quality of this book is delightful, particularly the visually appealing layout and typesetting, which makes the volume a pleasure to read, and a wonderful change from the paucity of visual design that goes into many versions of classics. This is a quality edition you'll want to add to your library, in either the hardcover or paperback versions. Recommended for anyone who would like to broaden their understanding of Machiavelli beyond The Prince.
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Format: Paperback
This is an exceptionally difficult and probably misguided translation of a great work. The translator Harvey Mansfield has attempted to follow in the (important) tradition of literal translations for philosophically rich works (a la Allan Bloom's excellent Republic). The intended result is that the English reader can follow the argument very closely by following the words closely. This is useful for key Machiavellian concepts like "virtu," but Mansfield actually attempted to render every single word in the entire text by a single English word - for example, the Italian word "cosa," which means "thing" but also "matter", "affair", "what," or "which", is rendered by the word "thing" everywhere - which produces terrible, almost unreadable English. When an Italian says "Cosa facio?" he doesn't mean "Thing I do?", he means "What am I doing?" But the translator literally writes "thing I do" in this book. If you want to actually read Machiavelli, who was a fine writer and not stilted like this, try another translation. Mansfield has a very devoted following because of the work he has done for the Great Books at Harvard University, and I suspect that some of the good reviews here are more because of his popularity as a person than because the reviewers really believe this translation captures Machiavelli.
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Format: Paperback
No one who wants to have a fair outlook of the whole political reflexions of Machiavelli, might get it without reading "Discourses.." (Discorsi...). There the reader will find another kind of Machiavelli. Not The Prince's, but another thinker. Deeper and broader, the main topic rather than how to get the power (as along The Prince), is now how to stabilize it. Livy's work is just a motive for Machiavelli's analizes. So, the frequent reference to ancient Greek or Roman history, serves as comparative model regarding the actual Italian and the lager European exuberant political universe. Instead the prince needed to unify Italy and set it free from foreing powers, the central figure is a republic capable to keep liberty alive and a "virtuosa" social life, in terms of participation in the power exercise. Most of the conclusions keep still today a wise validity. That's why after "Discourses..." (albeit it seems The Prince was written in the middle of the former's one composition years) one can talk rightly about a "republican" Machiavelli. If he was not father, at least he was uncle (a bright one) of the since many years called "protective republicanism". In few words: the book put in evidence his very scope and stature. Doubtless, "Discourses..." show us another kind of Machiavelli. Different from the often known one. But still more, different than the ignored one (although ignorance never has been and impediment for many people to speak improperly about "Machiavelli", "machiavellism" and "machiavellic".)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is NOT the same translation as the Kindle edition. This one is translated by Thomson--not Mansfield. A fun bait-and-switch.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those who love Machiavelli, this is great. The translation takes a while to get used to, but not too dificult. Great concepts and writing.
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Format: Paperback
It is important to note that Niccolo Machiavelli's most important work is this. He actually advocates for a tripartite government with checks and balances, like our own US gov't before Montesquieu and Locke. no mean feat! obviously, there was more to this theorist than "the end justifies the means." Morality was of importance to him after all. No doubt, this is a classic of political thought. It marks the end, for better or worse, of the Middle Ages conformity and a bold forging ahead toward the modern political horizons. Look it over!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The introduction is an outstanding piece of writing. It places the reader in the right frame of mind to absorb this great contribution to western political thought. Machiavelli's insights are remarkable and timeless and sadly applicable to our current political dilemmas.
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