- 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: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,479 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Prince (Penguin Classics) Reissue Edition
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“[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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That being said, Machiavelli achieves what he sets out to achieve (i.e. A manual that could guide a fledgling prince expand and consolidate his state) in a most brilliant manner. His examples are profound and although the number of troops he cites may be a tad sketchy at times, he does an excellent job of recounting the names and the stratagems behind major military, diplomatic and other (some of which are less-than-savoury) manoeuvres proving that he was a chronicler beyond par.
This book is exceedingly well-written and the only reason I felt the need to give it only 4 stars is due to it's relevance (or lack thereof). We, in the 21st century do not form the target audience for Machiavelli and there is little in this book to take home, that hasn't already been touched upon by other sources both literary and otherwise.
Maurizio Viroli's introductory essay is basically an abbreviated version of his book "Machiavelli" (Oxford U.P., 1998). Viroli places Machiavelli in the tradition of classical republicanism going back through the Florentine humanists to Cicero and Livy, and he demonstrates effectively how Machiavelli's works are imbued with the language of that tradition, especially from the late Middle Ages on. Viroli's republican Machiavelli espoused the "vivere civile" ("civil life"), a political ideal that could only be realized in a republic, where people could participate in politics while subjecting themselves willingly to the rule of law because of their love of country and desire to serve the common good. The means enabling their political participation was rhetoric, an art central to the Roman republic and the republican tradition, and, Viroli insists, to Machiavelli's world view and his works. Consequently, if one recognizes Machiavelli's embrace of rhetoric, Viroli concludes that the notion of Machiavelli the scientist, the father of political science, must be rejected.
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