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The Prince Paperback – September 24, 2008
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“[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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Italian --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
"The Prince" was essentially the first work of political realism in Western thought -- the first work of Western political philosophy that concerned itself not with the ideal government (as Plato had done in his _Republic_) but with the practical realities of getting and holding power. To describe the impact and influence of that willingness, that first notion that conventional morality might not be the best guide to success, would be as impossible a task as trying to summarize the influence of Galileo. Napoleon is rumored to have written extensive annotations to this book; Stalin allegedly kept a copy on his nightstand. Half of Shakespeare's villains (Iago, Richard III, etc.) derive their character in whole or part from this text.
Most of this book is extraordinarily controversial, even today, yet still fundamentally difficult to argue against; there's a reason the Catholic Church kept it on the _Index Librorum Prohibitorum_ for centuries. If you're looking for food for thought, it's here.
This particular kindle edition is fairly good; the text is cleanly presented with few typographical or scanning errors, and the translator has clearly made a significant effort to present the text as accurately as possible in a modern translation, with several footnotes detailing possible alternate translations of particular words, etc. In addition to the text of _The Prince_, this edition also includes two shorter historical works by Machiavelli, "Descriptions of the Methods Adopted by the Duke Valentino When Murdering Vitellozzo Vitelli, Oliverotto da Fermo, the Signor Pagolo, and the Duke di Gravina Orsini," and "The Life of Castruccio Castracani of Lucca." ("Duke Valentino" is an alternate name for Cesare Borgia). Both additional texts are, in essence, case studies of how contemporary historical figures achieved success by acting according to the precepts which Machiavelli outlines in the main body of the text, and as such are very useful and interesting companion reads.
As a final note, if anyone has recommendations for histories of Italy in this time period, please link me to them in a comment -- after reading this, I want to read more about the era. Thanks!
As others have stated at much greater length and with far greater eloquence, this is one of the most important books of political thought and philosophy ever written, and a truly timeless classic. As such, the fact that it's available for free on Kindle makes this a terrific deal, worth every single penny and many more. All the usual conveniences of Kindle applies here: very fast to download via Whispernet, the handiness of being able to annotate and highlight important passages, bookmarking pages you want to reference again later, etc. The slickness of the Kindle format and capabilities plus the inherit worthiness of the book itself easily nets 4 stars.
It's been about forever since I last read The Prince, plus I don't really know anything about Italian, so I'm not really fit to talk about the quality of the translation. Suffice it to say that it's a fairly easy book to read and make sense of, but again I can't speak to how true this particular edition is to its source material.
Unfortunately, there are a few problems with this edition of The Prince that need to be mentioned, and which in the end detract a little from the overall score. The first and biggest is in the formatting of the book. In short, it looks like a plain-text notepad file converted into a Kindle book; there's no navigable Table of Contents or chapter breaks as with most commercial Kindle books, and the book itself flows from the title page almost directly into the background about Machiavelli and then from there straight into The Prince itself, with scarcely a break in the text to mark the transition. For someone well versed in The Prince this probably isn't much of an issue, but for the more casual reader it's a little distracting and may confuse some. The other problem is more one of personal preference, which is that there's no annotations alongside the text to put specific lines into context. Again, for someone well versed in Machiavelli's life and the real-world examples he uses throughout The Prince, this probably isn't a significant issue. For more casual readers, having a little context for the examples he uses would be helpful from time to time.
In the end, you get what you pay for, and as the above-reviewed version of The Prince was free, I can't complain too much. It's brilliant, it's relevant, and it's very convenient to have on my Kindle. What more do you want for the price?