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The Prince
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The Prince

Here is the world¡¯s most famous master plan for seizing and holding power. Astonishing in its candor, The Prince even today remains a disturbingly realistic and prophetic work on what it takes to be a prince...a king...a president.

When, in 1512, Machiavelli was removed from his post in his beloved Florence, he resolved to set down a treatise on leadership that was practical, not idealistic. The prince he envisioned would be unencumbered by ordinary ethical and moral values; his prince would be man and beast, fox and lion. Today this small sixteenth-century masterpiece has become essential reading for every student of government and is the ultimate book on power politics.

This Bantam Classic edition of The Prince includes selections from Machiavelli¡¯s Discourses as well as an introduction and notes by the translator, Daniel Donno.

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 Niccol¨° 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

Customer Reviews:

  • good read for soldiers
    from private to general, really, I suggest at least reading it once. In our professions, they equipment may be different, but the principles-the same.

    be cruel, hard and dont hesitate....more info
  • Book for all times
    The treatise Machiavelli wrote back in Middle Ages is still relevant today. Even though it is written as a guide for the rulers, it can be applied to every person who is working with other people like in business and law. Machiavelli was one of the best psychologists of that time. He perfectly depicted the nature of the man and what is it possible of doing. As some later philosophers as Hobbes and Nietzsche would write, the man is driven by will to rule over others, a will to power.

    Machiavelli makes a great analysis of the contemporary politics in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. It is interesting to read also a historical source of the event happened for Machiavelli brings back the stories from the past to support his argument.

    It is an outstanding political and philosophical treatise, but I would recommend it only for people who are interested in authority/people management issues and in the historical perspective on those matters. The language is a bit tough and hard to get accustomed, but it was written in the Middle Ages, so I would expect nothing less. ...more info
  • Must Read
    A very good yet short book. I recommend this book to everyone.
    Don't pass this one up!...more info
  • A true-to-form rendition of a classic treatise
    The trick to selecting an edition of classic literature among the multitude of choices is finding one that faithfully reproduces the author's original intent while providing sufficient background information for the uninitiated. This edition of "The Prince" fits the bill nicely. It can't be called an easy read due to the numerous contemporary (to Machiavelli) references.

    Nevertheless, the added notes detailing the circumstances of which Machiavelli writes strike an excellent balance between practical brevity and useful completeness. Readers will find the text readable providing one invests the effort required to absorb the material. The level of difficulty may frustrate at first, but ultimately enriches the experience as the reader's effort is rewarded with a deeper understanding of Machiavelli's message.

    The value of Machiavelli's work speaks for itself. If you've already decided to buy "The Prince" yet struggle with the decision of "which edition" as I did, you won't go wrong with this one....more info
  • Detached and dispassionate analysis of political power.
    If you have no interest in how to gain and retain political power, or in how to play your potential enemies, rivals, and even allies, against each other, or in how to develop and effectively execute military strategies, or in how to manipulate popular opinion-- then read something else. Machiavelli will bore you. Machiavelli bored me. I struggled through though, and at times appreciated Machiavelli's historical knowledge, his threads of logic, and his cold dispassion for the subjects being treated. I only recall a single instance of the author revealing a personal opinion (there may have been a few others that I didn't notice or recall, however, Machiavelli reveals no interest but the analysis itself).

    As has been pointed out, the term "Machiavellian" (which has been used to denote heavy-handed power-hunger and cold manipulation) cannot be fairly applied to Machiavelli himself. He was merely a rather insightful analyst and political philosopher. ...more info
  • A classic!
    The separation of ethics from politics is a key component in Machiavelli's political theory. What matters is the end results. Machiavelli has tapped into the darkest and truest elements of the human nature. You have to read "the prince" to understand today's politics and politicians.
    The book is a disturbing reading that is based on reality in politics. ...more info
  • The Most Misunderstood Book
    Niccolo Macchiavelli has been totally misunderstood throughout modern western history. I have read the Prince and his comments on Livy at least three times and I fail to see how this misunderstanding has arisen. The only explanation is that Macchiavelli's analysis flies in the face of the prevarications that inform most modern political systems.
    Macchiavelli was clearly an idealist who preferred republican government, but was he also a realistic Italian nationalist who had good reasons to believe that a strong Italian monarchy would be the only form of government that could wrest control of the many parts of Italy dominated by foreign adventurers and then reunite the peninsula.
    His goals wre laudable and the methods which he prescribed to achieve them were necessary given the various and complex political situations at the time. In fact if the Medicis had been able to follow his advice and coalesce an italian state out of the chaos that reigned in the peninsula, all Italians would have benefitted greatly....more info
  • President Obama as "The Prince"
    The potent power of Machiavelli's ,"The Prince" has become almost a clich¨¦'. To say "The Prince" is one of the most relevant and evolving books written within the last 500 years is an understatement. In modern times, the recent presidential election is an excellent demonstration of how Machiavelli's principles of acquiring power played out perfectly and successfully dismantled the established order reminiscent of the Medici Dynasty. Are we seeing Machiavelli's treatise being demonstrated by President Obama? Like Machiavelli's crafty fox, Obama uses cunning to control the ferociousness of political lions. Machiavelli's amorality for doing what's necessary for the situation reflects the current idea of truncated power, where one uses powerful people to shorten the arduous years generally required to build a political empire.

    "The Prince" will be best appreciated by applying the principles laid out from the "Old Country" to modern reality. Machiavelli couldn't have known his tome would be the blueprint for modern politics. Read "The Prince" with an openness to the realities of human nature and its interplay with power.

    Edward Brown
    Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute
    [...]
    ...more info
  • boook
    this book has imensely inspired my life and moral. i haven't changed myself for the books sake, but merely incorporated the books "principalities" into my life as i best see fit to encourage a better life. the package came in ample time and was boxed safely

    thankyou

    durell

    ...more info
  • It is what it is
    This book is exactly what i expected. Its a handbook for the young poli-sci major or entrepreneur. It tells you exactly how to get to powerful positions and how to keep them. It has become my new bible....more info
  • The Truth Hurts
    Arguably the most misunderstood book ever written, Niccolo Machiavelli's THE PRINCE is not the Satanic bible it is reputed to be. It is, quite simply, a study of political power; how to get it, how to use it, how to keep it. It is indeed a frightfully amoral book, but I would argue that Machiavelli has been blamed for the color of the kettle, which he is merely describing, as if he himself made it that way. To my mind, a study of power, especially political power in postMedieval Europe, can't help but be amoral.

    Anyway. In THE PRINCE, Machiavelli uses historical examples going back to the Roman times and before to explain why certain politico-military leaders triumphed, why others failed, and why some did a lot of the former before they ultimately did the latter. Where he has generally run afoul of critics, especially the more sensitive (or "principled" sorts) is that he tends to view the tactics of leadership in absolutely cold-blooded, ajudgemental terms. Cruelty and massacre, mercy and liberalism, greed, generosity, loyalty, and betrayal, all are assessed according to their effectiveness and the likelihood of achieving the desired result. Nothing is "good" or "bad" in and of itself, except as in it allows or hinders a prince to gain, hold and expand his power. This is generally summed up as preaching "the ends justify the means", but that is generally a phrase used by people who haven't read the book. Firstly, Machiavelli isn't one one to justify anything; justification is for apologists and people with bad consciences, and he is neither. Second,
    he explicity states in his work that too much cruelty, betrayal, murder, treaty-breaking, rapacity, and villainy are self-defeating; the tend to generate the very forces they are employed to destroy. The end, in other words, doesn't justify the means, it simply dictates them.

    Obviously there is a great deal more to THE PRINCE than this thesis; Machiavelli spends a lot of time passing judgement on things like the use of mercenaries in an army, how best to run a territory which you have acquired by force as opposed to one you inherit by treaty, and all other other topics which were pressing on the leadership caste of the sixteenth century, some of which have no bearing on today's world. Taken as a whole, however, THE PRINCE remains a fascinating, timely and somewhat chilling study of political power, and should be required reading to anyone in a leadership position, from an assistant manager to an assistant secretary of state, president of the Elks to President of the United States. It contains a lot of wise counsel (such as Machiavelli's warning to "kingmakers" on their likely fate after the king takes power), and the fact that a lot of it is unpleasant to hear doesn't make any of it less true, or at least less arguable. Seems to me that of the strangest things about political correctness (thought control, as Orwell rightly called it) is the constant demand that we deny reality rather than say something offensive, impolitic or simply barbarous. That we lie rather than put forth observations or arguments which are accurate but too brutal for the sensitive person to face. Machiavelli's great sin - in my mind - is not what he actually wrote, but rather his refusal to lie about the nature of power politics, which are exactly what he says they are. In an age when call-and-response has replaced discourse, buzzwords pass for profundity, and the hot air coming out of Washington is at 450.5 degrees Fahrenheit and rising, it seems to me that honesty is a better policy, even when it's painful to hear.
    ...more info
  • Amoral Guide for the Strong
    The infamous pamphlet that established the basic strategies for military and city-state conquest for ages. Machiavelli looks to Caesar Borgia as his model of the ideal, calculating militant leader. Machiavelli calls for an appeal to the people through fear and respect, insisting that they must be treated well enough to maintain control. He writes: "Is it better to be loved or feared, or vice versa? I don't doubt that every prince would like to be both; but since it is hard to accommodate these qualities, if you have to make a choice, to be feared is much safer than to be loved. For it is a good general rule about men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, liars and deceivers, fearful of danger and greedy for gain."

    The Prince is the bible of modern realpolitik. It is a cynical tract containing twenty six guidelines for taking (and maintaining power). Machiavelli supports his arguments with an astonishing depth and breadth of understanding of military history, and this work remains one of the great accounts of military strategy, along with Thucydides and Hobbes. ...more info
  • boook
    this book has imensely inspired my life and moral. i haven't changed myself for the books sake, but merely incorporated the books "principalities" into my life as i best see fit to encourage a better life. the package came in ample time and was boxed safely

    thankyou

    durell

    ...more info
  • Really the first Postmodernist philosopher
    So, this idea of progress of being able all of a sudden to come into possession of perceptions that had not been accessible to us before, meant that now the self could now possibly be seen in ways that it had not previously been seen, and this was the hallmark of Renaissance humanists. When one looks at texts such as Niccolo Machiavelli's, (1469-1527) "The Prince," 1513, it becomes obvious that there is a different kind of emphasis that started to take shape around the notion of the self. This becomes particularly evident when you begin to compare Machiavelli and the Prince to works such as Sophocles and the Antigone. So, Machiavelli's theories of self aware role playing is essentially what he espouses, you have to be a self aware actor and performer. He is really the first; post modernism is always accredited with this notion that identity is performance. There is no such thing as identity it does not have a palpable existence, identity is merely the sum total of things you do, and the things you do are inconsistent. So this thing we call identity can only be the result of this kind of illusory coherent series of actions and representations consequently, the self itself is very questionable and very unstable and people always talk about this as one of the hallmarks of postmodern thinking. What I think is interesting is to read Machiavelli and think of him as the first postmodernist, as kind of a pre modern postmodernist. He has ideas about the self and about identity that come right out of postmodern thinking. He is so much about performing and role-playing, the self-made self, that whatever result you want you make it and you make it by the way you act, and the way you perform. Artful manipulation this is a challenge to the kinds of traditional definitions of the self as inspired by Divinity. In Machiavelli, of course, the Devine has no matter at all it has no place. Only what he talks about Fortuna, luck and not the Devine is what plays the ultimate role in determining the kind of life you are going to have. She quotes him "Fortune is the arbiter of ? the things we do the other ? to be controlled by ourselves." Therefore, there you have it, ? luck, ? our determination and your will so, that is about all you have to go on. So, where does that leave you, the luck part you can't do much about. Therefore, you have to focus on the ? that you can do something about the ? that you control. That is what his book the "Prince" is about that ? and the rest of it you will never be able to control. "The prince need not necessarily have good qualities, but you should certainly appear to have them, you should appear to be compassionate faithful to his word, kind guiles and devout, and indeed you should be so, but his disposition should be such that if he needs to be opposite he knows how. You must realize this that a prince, especially a new prince cannot observe all the things that give men a reputation for virtue, because in order to maintain his state he is often forced to act in defiance of good faith, of charity and kindness or religion. He should know how to do evil if that is necessary." Therefore, at this point you can find this theme of the human agent who can invent himself. Therefore, the person can decide to invent himself. This kind of thinking, I think this is still how we think about ourselves, I think that this is still how we think about identities. This is a very modern idea, and it ties into this very modern idea about taking responsibility for one's self, which we adhere to. It has been just as debatable and just as contestable back then as it has been now. Even in the secular literature of the Renaissance there is always evidence of this kind of deep rooted skepticism about to which the extent we can be fully controllable or fully controlled agents.

    Recommended reading for anyone interested in history, psychology, philosophy, and literature.

    ...more info
  • Really the first Postmodernist philosopher
    So, this idea of progress of being able all of a sudden to come into possession of perceptions that had not been accessible to us before, meant that now the self could now possibly be seen in ways that it had not previously been seen, and this was the hallmark of Renaissance humanists. When one looks at texts such as Niccolo Machiavelli's, (1469-1527) "The Prince," 1513, it becomes obvious that there is a different kind of emphasis that started to take shape around the notion of the self. This becomes particularly evident when you begin to compare Machiavelli and the Prince to works such as Sophocles and the Antigone. So, Machiavelli's theories of self aware role playing is essentially what he espouses, you have to be a self aware actor and performer. He is really the first; post modernism is always accredited with this notion that identity is performance. There is no such thing as identity it does not have a palpable existence, identity is merely the sum total of things you do, and the things you do are inconsistent. So this thing we call identity can only be the result of this kind of illusory coherent series of actions and representations consequently, the self itself is very questionable and very unstable and people always talk about this as one of the hallmarks of postmodern thinking. What I think is interesting is to read Machiavelli and think of him as the first postmodernist, as kind of a pre modern postmodernist. He has ideas about the self and about identity that come right out of postmodern thinking. He is so much about performing and role-playing, the self-made self, that whatever result you want you make it and you make it by the way you act, and the way you perform. Artful manipulation this is a challenge to the kinds of traditional definitions of the self as inspired by Divinity. In Machiavelli, of course, the Devine has no matter at all it has no place. Only what he talks about Fortuna, luck and not the Devine is what plays the ultimate role in determining the kind of life you are going to have. She quotes him "Fortune is the arbiter of ? the things we do the other ? to be controlled by ourselves." Therefore, there you have it, ? luck, ? our determination and your will so, that is about all you have to go on. So, where does that leave you, the luck part you can't do much about. Therefore, you have to focus on the ? that you can do something about the ? that you control. That is what his book the "Prince" is about that ? and the rest of it you will never be able to control. "The prince need not necessarily have good qualities, but you should certainly appear to have them, you should appear to be compassionate faithful to his word, kind guiles and devout, and indeed you should be so, but his disposition should be such that if he needs to be opposite he knows how. You must realize this that a prince, especially a new prince cannot observe all the things that give men a reputation for virtue, because in order to maintain his state he is often forced to act in defiance of good faith, of charity and kindness or religion. He should know how to do evil if that is necessary." Therefore, at this point you can find this theme of the human agent who can invent himself. Therefore, the person can decide to invent himself. This kind of thinking, I think this is still how we think about ourselves, I think that this is still how we think about identities. This is a very modern idea, and it ties into this very modern idea about taking responsibility for one's self, which we adhere to. It has been just as debatable and just as contestable back then as it has been now. Even in the secular literature of the Renaissance there is always evidence of this kind of deep rooted skepticism about to which the extent we can be fully controllable or fully controlled agents.

    Recommended reading for anyone interested in history, psychology, philosophy, and literature.

    ...more info
  • A great little book...
    I love this little book. I only wish Mr. Machiavelli had written more - much more. One word says it all: honest. This book tells it like it is. Not for the politically correct, but for those who appreciate an honest take on politics and government. If you love books that say it like it is, no matter the politics, then you'll likely enjoy this small book. Amazingly refreshing for 1530 AD. Like I said above, I only wish Mr. Machiavelli had written more....more info
  • Product Overview
    This book was in excellent condition. It took over 2 weeks to receive, so make sure you plan accordingly when you purchase....more info
  • Faithful version of the original text.
    This is a translation of the full original text of this classic in organizational theory. No "educated" person should be without this book. The lessons are about human nature, and are as applicable today as in the time of Machiavelli himself.
    ...more info
  • Political Power and Political Reality vs. False Appearances
    Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)wrote THE PRINCE as a "how to" book. While this book was written in Renaissance Italy, THE PRINCE is a timely classic of political thought that has been badly distorted by shallow media men and historians too cowardly to carefully examine political reality.

    Machiavelli wrote THE PRINCE in an attempt regain political position, and he offered good practical advice to his "patron" or anyone else who had interest in political power. Machiavelli knew that political power was not for the timid. He advised a potential prince on how to retain power. Probably without intending to do so, he also advised those who did not have political power but wanted it.

    Some of Machiavelli's suggestions include showing intense force while feigning mercy. Machiavelli argued that a prince should instill fear rather than love because love is more fleeting and temporary. Machiavelli taught a potential prince that he should blame and severely punish advisors if these advisors followed the prince's orders. In other words, Machiavelli advised princes that if a policy went awry or cause resentment, a prince should scapegoat his subordinates with punishment rather than admitting blame or admitting error.

    Some have argued that Machiavelli's THE PRINCE was also a call for Italian unity or what was later known as Nationalism. Machiavelli advised that military forces should be composed of native troops loyal to the ruler as opposed to mercenaries. Mercenaries were not to be trusted as they were loyal to paymasters rather than a prince of polity.

    Readers should note that Renaissance Italy was not united. There were several political units such as principalities, city-states, Austrian-German controlled areas, the Papal States, etc. Machiavelli knew that often these rulers called on "outsiders" to do their dirty work vs. their enemies. Machiavelli was not the only Italian who realized that such outside "help" often made Italy a battleground for other Euroepean rulers to the detriment of the Italians. This is why Machiavelli wanted a united Italy.

    Naive readers and dull pundits have associated Machiavelli with evil political disigns. This is not true. Machiavelli found the situation in Italy into which he was born. The political divisions and intrigues were the facts of political life, and Machiavelli made a reasoned response to it.

    Machiavelli's THE PRINCE is also important because of the warning he gave to readers. Whether he intended to or not, Machiavelli alerted readers how political power actually works as opposed to lofty speeches, constitutions, etc. In other words, the alert reader should beware. Another important lesson that Machiavelli teaches that political power is often composed of powerful groups whose survival and prosperity can last if there are compromises. In other words, freedom is an important byproduct of these compromises.

    One may note that Machiavelli's THE PRINCE was written was written when crowned princes and rulers were trying to concentrate their power. The old Medieval system of controls (checks and balances) were undermined. There were fewer restrictions of parliaments, vassals, Cathlic Church controls, etc. to limit a monarch's power. In other words, Renaissance rulers were able to use political and economic dislocations to rid themselves of prior controls.

    THE PRINCE is an invaluable guide to understanding actual political power. Machiavelli was sure of himself because he was witness to rapid changes in political power, and he clearly understood the events that were unfolding even if others were not. Those who assign evil intentions to Machiavelli betray their own naivete rather than any actual understanding If readers have a difficult time with THE PRINCE, they owe it to themselves to give the book a more careful read....more info
  • Detached and dispassionate analysis of political power.
    If you have no interest in how to gain and retain political power, or in how to play your potential enemies, rivals, and even allies, against each other, or in how to develop and effectively execute military strategies, or in how to manipulate popular opinion-- then read something else. Machiavelli will bore you. Machiavelli bored me. I struggled through though, and at times appreciated Machiavelli's historical knowledge, his threads of logic, and his cold dispassion for the subjects being treated. I recall only a single instance of the author revealing a personal opinion (there may have been one or two others that I didn't notice or recall), however that lone reflection was really an aside, politically neutral; Machiavelli reveals no interest but the analysis itself.

    As has been pointed out, the term "Machiavellian" (which has been used to denote heavy-handed power-hunger and cold manipulation) cannot be fairly applied to Machiavelli himself. He was merely a rather insightful analyst and political philosopher. His present battery of essays is a must-read for the ardent "politophile"--but is really of little interest to those like myself, who generally enjoy philosophy---so long as it isn't [inevitably banal] political philosophy.
    ...more info
  • Wisdom for the Ages
    This author simply gets one of the worst wraps in history. Machiavelli is usually looked at as a sinister, manipulative individual, but quite frankly, the guy is a realist. He simply called it like he saw it, and just like today, nobody wants to hear it.

    National politics are not the only application for these words. This book applies to national, regional, local, business, and familial politics. To ignore it is foolish, to not read it is ignorant, and ignorance is not bliss in this instance. Reading this is by no means a guarantee to the corner office, but those who do can pick out when someone is trying to obtain that position. If you are a student of psychology or a people watcher, this book is in some ways deviously comical to use as a field guide.

    For those aspiring individuals, you would do yourself well to read this, study it, and apply it. The concepts will work, even today, which is why this is necessary reading for all current and aspiring executives in the world. Whether to recognize the tactics or for manipulation or both the choice is yours alone. It's all about the relationships....more info
  • Hard to follow
    Always heard about the man and the book but it was difficult trying to follow and understand. Gave up three quarters of the way through. Did learn a little something though....more info
  • Great
    This is more of a guideline handbook than a novel. It is well written and simple to understand. It teaches a lot about power and politics. Although it was written centuries ago, there are still traces of Machiavelli tactics still being used today. ...more info
  • Refreshing cynacism
    Cynical but accurate pronouncements to get a person through life, if you enjoy the art of grovelling. (Many times necessary to advance, if that is your agenda.)...more info
  • "A wise prince cannot and should not keep his pledge when it is against his interest..."
    "... to do so and when his reasons for making the pledge are no longer operrative."

    We live in an era of high definition television, Internet, fast cars, space travel when change is the word of the day and everything seems to become outdated before tomorrow arrives, and then you come accross a book like this... You realise that there is something in our nature that has not changed that much. I read the book in disbelief, amazed by how contemporary this text is despite the fact that Niccolo Machiavelli wrote this book five hundred years ago.

    Machiavelli wrote this book after losing a high powered position in the Florentine state. It is believed he wrote the book in 1513, or at least he started working on the book that year. You read the text I quoted in the title of my review and you cannot escape the thought of how well that applies to today's politics - in any country. The quote captures the essence of the book, a political manifesto that was applied in practice a hundred years later by Richellieu, the creator of "raison d'etat" concept.

    Machiavelli is focused on stating the principles of acquiring and sustaining political power in Italy. His belief is that a true leader is a person with political abilities, fortune and military skills. While sifting through history to find examples that support his organisation of various power systems, Machiavelli uses his sharp observations to discuss human nature and attach them methodically to an arsenal of skills that a successful prince needs to master. Thus the book becomes something that can be used in debate about history, politics, human nature, sociology or I dare say economics.

    This book is excellent material for people that have a deep belief that humans are bad and they can be managed mainly through fear: "For this can be said about the generality of men: that they are ungrateful, fickle, dissembling, anxious to flee danger, and covetous of gain. So long as you promote their advantage, they are all yours...". This lack of trust is present throughout the book and Machiavelli does not discriminate in his conclusion between classes. The poor and the rich are alike when it comes to interest. In my view, this is a conundrum for Machiavelli: he generalises men as being untrustworthy and yet he talks about loyalty and patriotism, especially when it comes to himself.

    The book is more than a study of human nature and politics. While reading it I started to understand much better the Italian history. It is clear in my view why Italy is so fragmented and the politics of this country so volatile. It goes back to hundreds of years of struggle for power between influencial families. During this time they have become experts in diplomacy and in finding the right balance of power. I found amazing how papacy has managed to survive in a landscape littered with stories of ruin, deceit, death and temporary success. Italy has been a battle ground between papacy, powerful Italian families, French and Spanish emperors. That country has lots of old memories that, I believe, still have strong a presence in today's affairs.

    It is interesting that Machiavelli noted that a strong pricipality could be based on strong cities. He uses the example of German cities that have strong fortifications, moats and artilery and "... they have enough work of the sort that is the mainstay of the city to keep the populace engaged at their usual crafts for the space of a year". This is the description of economic power, the seed of the future capitalism. I found interesting that although he noted the importance of the economic capacity, he missed it from the list of critical elements to success, limiting it to include only the political and the military.

    Machiavelli's principles of power in politics can be applied to warfare in business. He discussess extensively what a prince should do to maintain power when conquering new territories. I worked for a couple of years in a company that was an aggressive acquirer and I can say that Machiavelli's observations apply incredibly well to many scenarios of acquisitions, especially if they are hostile. Apart from mergers and acquisitions, some of the studies on human nature that is revealed when people have a new leader apply quite well to today's politics that is played even at department level. There are a few lessons there. An example is that if the new ruler conquers a new territory the chances of preserving the territory increase greatly if the ruler moves residency in the new territory. This is what the Turkish sultan did to preserve the Greek territory. I find that instructive, in today's terms, to follow more closely to see if an acquiring company has a high ranking officer moving to new territory belonging to the acquired company.

    Machiavelli is a master of language. He manages to express human beliefs touching on a primitive cord and makes you pay attention and wonder. He is, however, biased too much towards the idea that humans are either evil or greedy or arrogant or stupid. I supose that one could forgive that considering the living conditions he endured when he wrote the book. Nowadays, he could have published the same book, cash in the royalties, make a movie, and make a very comfortable living. Here is a fragment from a letter he wrote to his friend, Francesco Vettori: "...Meanwhile lunchtime arrives and, together with my family, I eat whatever food my poor house and scanty patrimony afford. Having lunched, I return to the inn. There I generally find the innkeeper, a butcher, a miller, and two kiln-tenders. In their company I idle the rest of the day away playing at cricca and tricchetrach - games that give rise to a host of quarells, cutting remarks, and insults. Often we fight over a penny and are heard yelling as far off as San Casciano. Set down among these lice, this is how I keep the mould from my brain and find release from Fortune's malice. I am content to have her beat me down this way to see if she won't become ashamed"

    Great book, worth every penny and every minute. To be served with a good glass of wine, or a cup of tea in a quiet environment. Get ready for surprises, interesting associations and intellectual delight.


    ...more info
  • It Takes Courage To Know One's Motives
    For a book as brief as THE PRINCE, its impact on history has been at least as great as almost any other work. Over the centuries, it has gotten a bad reputation as some sort of guidebook for evil. But back when it was first written in the 16th century, Machiavelli indeed intended it as a guidebook, but neither for evil or for good. Rather he wrote it for a specific purpose. It was written expressly for the ruler princes of the Italian city-states who he believed could best benefit. Although its precepts are generalized to fit most country's ruling elite to a certain extent, the advice was tailored to fit the only government with which he was most familiar, his own. His motivation for writing has been construed as a bald grab for power, with Machiavelli as Mephistopheles and the grabber as a power hungry Dr. Faustus. The truth is more prosaic. His sole concern was the security of Italy. Concepts such as good, evil, war, peace, love, and hate were irrelevant only insofar as they productively led to this security. Those who read THE PRINCE today and try to follow his advice will find that such advice simply cannot be applied when the host country can reasonably call itself democratic. Consider an American politician who reads Chapter 17: "Of Cruelty and Clemency, and Whether It Is Better to Be Loved or Feared." Machiavelli could not have conceived of a leftist judiciary ruled by the edicts of Political Correctness which would not inconvenience even one's enemies to protect one's friends or even oneself. In the 16th century, rulers could and often did take actions that were harmful to a few for the betterment of the many. Similarly such a politician today may read Chapter 18: "In What Ways Princes Must Keep Faith." Here Machiavelli argues that since the world is often run by unscrupulous and faithless dealers, one need not be overly concerned with keeping one's word given to those reprobate leaders. Can you imagine what some politicians would say when they realize that they are dealing with world leaders who may not always be honest but we must act nobly in any case? Despite the resurgence in interest in THE PRINCE, such interest is likely to remain in the academic arena until such time as our governmental system of checks and balances is replaced by one with which Machiavelli is more familiar....more info
  • More than just politics
    I purchased this book thinking it was a political book, and it certainly can be, but it is also much more. Machiavelli's principles are applicable to any sort of situation that involves bureaucracy, such as the professional world in addition to ruling and power....more info