- Paperback: 184 pages
- Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 2nd edition (September 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226500446
- ISBN-13: 978-0226500447
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,582 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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 alternate Paperback edition.
" [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
"From the Hardcover edition."
"[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
"From the Hardcover edition." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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A consideration on my part would be to be careful which edition you receive. The book here on the website claims to have 164 pages and published by Simon & Brown 2011, the ISBN 1613821719 and the one I received over the mail has 106 pages and was published by St. Martin's Press, NY 1997 with an ISBN 0-14-044752-0. A 14 year difference, hence my reason for giving 3 stars instead of 5.
The book is a historical account of strategic maneuvers through Northern Italy in order for rulers to dominate neighboring provinces. Machiavelli himself is displayed as a wise power player, preaching the importance of making bold decisions and always thinking ahead. Readers are also taken into the unconventional mind of Machiavelli and his insight into a darker domain of human psychology. Machiavelli argues that maneuvers have to be insidious and masked in darkness. The book claims that the "qualities traditionally considered as 'virtuous', in the Christian or feudal senses, were not virtuous at all in a prince."(pg xxvi) Claiming that double-cross, deceit, and an overwhelming desire for more are traits all good "princes" must posses in order to be successful in the contest of power.
The book is organized as a practical, "how-to" guide which makes it extremely useful. Although many of us here on Amazon might not be contemplating the complete take over of foreign nations, the teachings of the book can be used by ordinary people to secure their place in the workplace by organizing employees in a structure suited to your needs- "How a prince should organize his militia" (pg47), or whether a situation needs either your harshness or benevolence- "Cruelty and compassion; and whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse" (pg 53).
For myself, Machiavelli's insight into "how far human affairs are governed by fortune, and how fortune can be opposed"(pg 79) was a good insight on how circumstances shape human minds. An example would be the spoiled good life of one man vs. the cohesive rise of another. A good prince does not treat both in the same manner. An admirable lesson to take from the book is the idea of creating opportunities, no matter what our circumstances are.
All in all, the book is easy to read and insightful on the responsibility of anyone creating power for themselves.
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