The Prince (A Penguin Classics Hardcover) Info

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A new series of beautiful hardcover nonfiction classics, with
covers designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith

World-changing
ideas meet eye-catching design: the best titles of the extraordinarily
successful Great Ideas series are now packaged in Coralie
Bickford-Smith’s distinctive, award-winning covers. Whether on a
well-curated shelf or in your back pocket, these timeless works of
philosophical, political, and psychological thought are absolute
must-haves for book collectors as well as design enthusiasts.
As a
diplomat in turbulent fifteenth-century Florence, Niccolò
Machiavelli knew how quickly political fortunes could rise and
fall. The Prince, his tough-minded, pragmatic handbook on
how power really works, made his name notorious and has remained
controversial ever since. How can a leader be strong and decisive, yet
still inspire loyalty in his followers? When is it necessary to break
the rules? Is it better to be feared than loved? Examining regimes and
their rulers the world over and throughout history, from Roman Emperors
to renaissance Popes, from Hannibal to Cesare di Borgia, Machievalli
answers all these questions in a work of realpolitik that still has
shrewd political lessons for modern times. Tim Parks's acclaimed
contemporary translation
renders Machiavelli's pointed
original  into language that feels as alarming and enlightening as
when it was first written. His introduction discusses Machiavelli's life
and reputation, and explores the historical background to the
work.
For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the
leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world.
With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global
bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and
disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative
texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and
contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by
award-winning translators.

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Reviews for The Prince (A Penguin Classics Hardcover):

5

Aug 20, 2008


That single statement boys and girls is the crux at the heart of the matter resting at the bottom-line of Niccolo Machiavelli’s world-changing classic on the defining use of realpolitik in governance and foreign policy. Despite popular perception, Machiavelli, whose name has often been used as a synonym for political ASSHATery, was not arguing that it’s better to be immoral, cruel and evil than to be moral, just and good. Rather, Machiavelli was demonstrating, through reasoned analysis based
That single statement boys and girls is the crux at the heart of the matter resting at the bottom-line of Niccolo Machiavelli’s world-changing classic on the defining use of realpolitik in governance and foreign policy. Despite popular perception, Machiavelli, whose name has often been used as a synonym for political ASSHATery, was not arguing that it’s better to be immoral, cruel and evil than to be moral, just and good. Rather, Machiavelli was demonstrating, through reasoned analysis based on numerous historical examples, that the most effective way to govern a population is through decision-making based on the current situation without muddying up the waters with considerations of morality.

Holy snickerdoodles that's amoral!! Uh...yes, by definition it is.

However, Machiavelli, in his famous use of end justifying means, supports the rightness of his position by citing numerous examples of “princes” who, in acting "all just and proper like” in relation to their neighbors and subjects, led their people right into the waiting arms of bondage and slaughter at the hands of those who were less vituous in their thinking. Should such murdered and subjugated populations thank the princes for their unwaivering morality? Machiavelli says HELLS NO. He argues that the Prince’s #1 priority is to safeguard his holdings and maintain stability within his borders. Allowing other considerations to affect such judgements will only provide an advantage to third parties who will exploit it. In the end, Machiavelli argues, fewer lives will be lost and less suffering incurred by the Prince who can govern EFFECTIVELY.

Not necessarily warm and fuzzy Sesame Street thinking, but there is some serious power to the reasoning. I wish we lived in a world in which that was not the case. I wish Machiavelli’s insights were not needed and that we lived in a world where loftier morals could carry the day. However, until we do, Machiavelli’s words provide much ringing truth and thought food.

PLOT SYNOPSIS

I don’t want to sound like a book report so let me just summarize briefly how the book is laid out.

Machiavelli wrote The Prince for Lorenzo de Medici, whose family ruled Florence at the time, as basically a job application. He wanted to get in good with the de Medici family secure a place at their court. The book, while jumping around a bit, can be divided into 3 or 4 sections, the last really being a summarizing “call to arms” to the Italian people that they need a wise prince to lead them back to the greatness of the Roman Empire.

Discounting the rah rah speech at the end, the other 3 sections deal with (1) the kinds of principalities and how they are acquired; (2) the proper organization of the military and the best kind of solider to comprise it; and (3) the internal make up of a princes court (i.e., associates and subordinates).

Section 1 is interesting and fun to read, but basically worthless for anything other than historical perspective. Machiavelli discusses territories won be conquest, inheritance or luck and talks about the various characteristics of each. While not exactly "awe-inspiring" in its perception, the narrative itself is interesting and Machiavelli’s “voice” is engaging.

Section 2 can be summarized as follows: Mercenaries well and truly SUCK and should not be used under any circumstances because their suckage will end up squandering your resources and giving squat in return. Therefore, the wise Prince keeps a standing army sufficient to protect the country’s interests.

Section 3 is the real meat of the work and contains the bulk of the advice that garnered Niccolo his much deserved reputation for suggesting the propriety of abandoning morality in governance. He speaks of the need of the Prince to be able to deceive and act against the "five" virtues of the righteous man when necessary for the betterment of his state and his people. Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.
The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present. Machiavelli discusses numerous examples of sovereigns who either benefitted from following such advice or, conversely, who suffered calamity for adhering to a sense of virtue.

THOUGHTS

Ground-breaking and brilliantly insightful, especially for its time. So much of what Machiavelli says is now an ingrained part of political thinking that it comes across as DUH when you read it. However, it was Niccolo who first put forth these concepts that have become the dogma and foundation of modern political thought. He put the “real” in realpolitk. I don’t think the contribution he made to political theory can be overstated. It was The Prince that called out the distinction between what men “say” and what they “do.” He did not invent political immorality, but he did recognize it as an effective, and at time crucial, aspect of rule. Something the famous rulers of history have always known…and practiced.

In addition, I was surprised at how much fun the book was to read. Machiavelli includes dozens and dozens of brief vignettes about world history in supporting his ideas and does a great job keeping the reader engaged with colorful descriptions of past events. The book is also chalk-full of wonderful quotes that just jumped out at me as I was reading. Here are a few that I thought were intriguing: The new ruler must determine all the injuries that he will need to inflict. He must inflict them once and for all…People should either be caressed or crushed. If you do them minor damage they will get their revenge; but if you cripple them there is nothing they can do. If you need to injure someone, do it in such a way that you do not have to fear their vengeance.” In addition to post-revolutionary purges and new government administrations, the above has also become a truism for business and is why corporations do “massive layoffs” rather than a series of smaller scale terminations. Gee, thanks Niccolo.

“My view is that it is desirable to be both loved and feared; but it is difficult to achieve both and, if one of them has to be lacking, it is much safer to be feared than loved.” Ah...just like the Godfather.

Oh…and lest the above not make it clear, for all his amazing contributions to world-history we should not lose sight of the fact that Machiavelli, for all his astuteness, was a bit of an asshole. While his work is engaging and wonderful reading and I give him full marks for “calling it like it is,” he is still not the kind of guy you want educating your children or providing life lessons. I admire his work, but the man comes across as quite a scummy, conniving douche.

You know, like a modern politician.

5.0 Stars. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!
...more
5

Jun 23, 2013

This is no Little Prince, that's for sure. You must kill the fox, burn the rose, murder the businessman, if any of them tries to take control over your princedom. There's no time to be nice! There's only time to seem to be nice. At the end of the day, it is better to be feared than loved, if you can't be both. Nevertheless, keep in mind chapter 23.

The Prince was written in the 16th century and a couple of its ideas are too contemporary. It is a major treatise that influenced several political This is no Little Prince, that's for sure. You must kill the fox, burn the rose, murder the businessman, if any of them tries to take control over your princedom. There's no time to be nice! There's only time to seem to be nice. At the end of the day, it is better to be feared than loved, if you can't be both. Nevertheless, keep in mind chapter 23.

The Prince was written in the 16th century and a couple of its ideas are too contemporary. It is a major treatise that influenced several political leaders throughout history. Machiavelli is widely regarded as the father of modern politics by taking away any trace of theology and morality from his works. (That is something no one has ever said before.) I should have read it long ago, but everything has its time, I suppose.

So, there are a lot of concepts that should just stay in the book and a few which you may apply to everyday circumstances. It delivers what you are waiting for, if you want to know how to have and keep power to yourself, no matter the head you are crushing, and all that using a fairly straightforward language. It is a short book and easy to understand, even though the notion of achieving glory, power and survival, regardless of how immoral you have to be... it is not difficult to comprehend; that we get.

Cruelty, wickedness, immorality; all those things apparently needed to achieve greatness, all of them printed long ago in the form of a little book, just like that... From a twisted point of view, sometimes, it is almost a bit funny.
It was an excellent read.
There is no other way to guard yourself against flattery than by making men understand that telling you the truth will not offend you. (137)
Lovely.



* Also on my blog. ...more
5

Mar 17, 2010

I'm weirdly pleased that The Prince lives up to its reputation: it is indeed Machiavellian. Here's his advice on conquering self-governing states (i.e. democracies): "The only way to hold on to such a state is to reduce it to rubble." Well then.

I'd like to say that any guy whose last name becomes a synonym for evil is a badass, but Machiavelli wasn't; he was a failed minor diplomat who wrote this in a failed attempt to get reemployed. Stupid attempt, too; anyone who hired him would be I'm weirdly pleased that The Prince lives up to its reputation: it is indeed Machiavellian. Here's his advice on conquering self-governing states (i.e. democracies): "The only way to hold on to such a state is to reduce it to rubble." Well then.

I'd like to say that any guy whose last name becomes a synonym for evil is a badass, but Machiavelli wasn't; he was a failed minor diplomat who wrote this in a failed attempt to get reemployed. Stupid attempt, too; anyone who hired him would be advertising that he espoused Machiavellian values. This book was published, after all. And as he himself advises, "A leader doesn't have to possess virtuous qualities, but it's imperative that he seem to possess them."

So I'll go with this: anyone whose last name becomes a synonym for evil has written a good book.

I hope to match that effect with my first novel. Working title: "Unicorns are Pretty."

So if Machiavelli was such a loser, how did his book get so famous? It's not because it's great advice; it sortof isn't. I think it's because it's just a ton of fun to read. It's chock full of over-the-top quotes like the ones above. It's really funny.

Which brings up a recurring topic for debate: did he intend for this to be taken seriously, or is it satire? I think it's the former: mixed in with the zany stuff is a fair amount of common-sense advice. He could certainly have included that to make the zany stuff pop more, or to camouflage it a bit, but I prefer to think he meant the whole thing seriously. And it's not like any of it is advice someone hasn't followed at some point. (See my first quote above: yeah, we've tried that.)

Translation review: this is the very latest translation. Parks has gone to great trouble to reduce the crazy complexity of Machiavelli's sentences - I know this from reading his excellent Translator's Note - and I appreciate that. He's also tried hard to make it accessible to modern audiences, and sometimes I think he's tipped a tiny bit overboard on that front. "When a ruler occupies a land that has a different language...then things get rough." "Difficult" would have been perfectly clear; "rough" is too colloquial. We want to be able to read our classics, but we don't need to pretend they were written yesterday.

That's a relatively minor complaint, though; this is a clear and easy translation. Good intro, too. And a glossary of proper names at the back, so you can sort out the various contemporary figures you don't recognize.

I'll close with my favorite quote: "It's better to be impulsive than cautious; fortune is female and if you want to stay on top of her you have to slap and thrust."

Machiavelli: kindof a dick. ...more
5

Sep 03, 2012

Il Principe = The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli
The Prince is a 16th-century political treatise by the Italian diplomat and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. Machiavelli said that The Prince would be about princedoms, mentioning that he has written about republics elsewhere, but in fact he mixes discussion of republics into this in many places, effectively treating republics as a type of princedom also, and one with many strengths. More importantly, and less traditionally, he distinguishes Il Principe = The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli
The Prince is a 16th-century political treatise by the Italian diplomat and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. Machiavelli said that The Prince would be about princedoms, mentioning that he has written about republics elsewhere, but in fact he mixes discussion of republics into this in many places, effectively treating republics as a type of princedom also, and one with many strengths. More importantly, and less traditionally, he distinguishes new princedoms from hereditary established princedoms. He deals with hereditary princedoms quickly in Chapter 2, saying that they are much easier to rule. For such a prince, "unless extraordinary vices cause him to be hated, it is reasonable to expect that his subjects will be naturally well disposed towards him".

انتشاراتیها: اقبال؛ جامی، پژواک؛ روزگار نو؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: اول سپتامبر سال 1995 میلادی؛ تاریخ دومین خوانش: روز هشتم سپتامبر سال 1995 میلادی

عنوان: شهریار؛ نویسنده: نیکولو ماکیاوللی؛ مترجم: داریوش آشوری؛ موضوع: علوم سیاسی، اخلاق و سیاست از نویسندگان ایتالیایی در سده 16 م
عنوان: شهریار؛ نویسنده: نیکولو ماکیاوللی؛ مترجم: محمود محمود، تهران، اقبال، 1311، در 130 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، اقبال، 1357، در 140 ص
عنوان: شهریار؛ نویسنده: نیکولو ماکیاوللی؛ مترجم: داریوش آشوری، تهران، اقبال، 1366، در 135 ص
عنوان: شهریار؛ نویسنده: نیکولو ماکیاوللی؛ مترجم: مرتضی ثابتفر، تهران، جامی، 1387، در 191 ص
عنوان: شهریار؛ نویسنده: نیکولو ماکیاوللی؛ مترجم: احمدرضا زرکش کاشانی، تهران، پژواک، 1392، در 190 ص
عنوان: شهریار؛ نویسنده: نیکولو ماکیاوللی؛ مترجم: نسرین مجیدی، تهران، روزگارنو، 1392، در 96 ص

فهرت شامل: دیباچه؛ زندگی و روزگارش؛ جایگاه در اندیشه سیاسی؛ شهریار؛ نامه ای از «نیکولو ماکیاوللی» به پیشگاه «لورنتسو دی پی یرو د مدیچی»؛ فصل یکم: پادشاهیها بر چند گونه اند و شیوه های فراچنگ آوردنشان؛ فصل دوم: در باب پادشاهیهای موروثی؛ فصل سوم: در باب پادشاهیهائی که از پیوستن چند قلمرو به یکدیگر پدید میآیند؛ فصل چهارم: چرا در پادشاهی داریوش که به دست اسکندر افتاد پس از مرگ اسکندر مردم بر جانشینان وی نشوریدند؛ فصل پنجم: در باب شیوه ی حکومت بر شهرها یا امیرنشینهائی که پیش از آن با قوانین خود میزیسته اند؛ فصل ششم: در باب کشورهائی که به نیروی بازوی خود میگیرند؛ فصل هفتم: در باب پادشاهیهائی که به زور بازوی دیگران گرفته اند یا به یاری بخت و ....؛ فصل بیست و ششم: فراخوانشی به رهانیدن ایتالیا از چنگال بربران. نام نامه

نقل از متن کتاب: شهریار: میباید از دو چیز در دل هراسان باشد، از «درون و رعایای خویش» و دیگری از «بیرون و از قدرتهای خارجی». فصل نوزده پایان نقل نخست. کتاب «شهریار»، از اهمیت والایی برای اندیشه ورزان سیاسی، و سیاست پیشگان برخوردار است، ولی خواندنش را به همگان پیشنهاد میکنم. نثر کتاب نیز از آثار برجسته است. بهترین گزیده از متن کتاب: «باید بدانید که برای ستیزیدن با دیگران، دو راه در پیش است: یکی با قانون، دیگری با زور؛ روش نخستین در خور انسان است و دومین روش ددان، و از آنجا که روش نخستین چه بسا کارآمد نیست، ناگزیر به دومین، روی می‌باید آورد؛ از این رو بر شهریار است، كه بداند چگونه روش ددان و انسان را نیک به کار بندد.»؛ پایان نقل دوم. ا. شربیانی ...more
5

Apr 20, 2008

Il Principe = The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli
The Prince is a 16th-century political treatise by the Italian diplomat and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. From correspondence a version appears to have been distributed in 1513. However, the printed version was not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death.
Machiavelli says that The Prince would be about princedoms, mentioning that he has written about republics elsewhere (a reference to the Discourses on Livy), but in fact Il Principe = The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli
The Prince is a 16th-century political treatise by the Italian diplomat and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. From correspondence a version appears to have been distributed in 1513. However, the printed version was not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death.
Machiavelli says that The Prince would be about princedoms, mentioning that he has written about republics elsewhere (a reference to the Discourses on Livy), but in fact he mixes discussion of republics into this work in many places, effectively treating republics as a type of princedom also, and one with many strengths. More importantly, and less traditionally, he distinguishes new princedoms from hereditary established princedoms.
Characters: Theseus, Alexander the Great, Louis XII, Cesare Borgia, Francesco Sforza, Niccolò Machiavelli, Pope Alexander VI.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه سپتامبر سال 1995 میلادی
عنوان: شهریار؛ نویسنده: نیکولو ماکیاوللی؛ مترجم: داریوش آشوری؛ موضوع: علوم سیاسی، اخلاق و سیاست از نویسندگان ایتالیایی در سده 16 م
ترجمه های دیگر از همین عنوان
مترجم: محمود محمود، تهران، اقبال، 1311، در 130 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، اقبال، 1357، در 140 ص
مترجم: داریوش آشوری، تهران، اقبال، 1366، در 135 ص
مترجم: مرتضی ثابتفر، تهران، جامی، 1387، در 191 ص
مترجم: احمدرضا زرکش کاشانی، تهران، پژواک، 1392، در 190 ص
مترجم: نسرین مجیدی، تهران، روزگارنو، 1392، در 96 ص

فهرت شامل: دیباچه؛ زندگی و روزگارش؛ جایگاه در اندیشه سیاسی؛ شهریار؛ نامه ای از «نیکولو ماکیاوللی»، به پیشگاه «لورنتسو دی پی یرو د مدیچی»؛ فصل یکم: پادشاهیها بر چند گونه اند، و شیوه های فراچنگ آوردنشان؛ فصل دوم: در باب پادشاهیهای موروثی؛ فصل سوم: در باب پادشاهیهائی که از پیوستن چند قلمرو به یکدیگر، پدید میآیند؛ فصل چهارم: چرا در پادشاهی داریوش، که به دست اسکندر افتاد، پس از مرگ اسکندر، مردم بر جانشینان وی نشوریدند؛ فصل پنجم: در باب شیوه ی حکومت بر شهرها، یا امیرنشینهائی که پیش از آن، با قوانین خود میزیسته اند؛ فصل ششم: در باب کشورهائی که به نیروی بازوی خود، میگیرند؛ فصل هفتم: در باب پادشاهیهائی که به زور بازوی دیگران، گرفته اند یا به یاری بخت و ....؛ فصل بیست و ششم: فراخوانشی به رهانیدن ایتالیا از چنگال بربران. نام نامه

نقل از متن کتاب: «شهریار میباید از دو چیز در دل هراسان باشد، نخست از «درون و رعایای خویش»، و دیگری از «بیرون و از قدرتهای خارجی». فصل نوزدهم» پایان نقل نخست. کتاب «شهریار»، از اهمیت والایی، برای اندیشه ورزان سیاسی، و سیاست پیشگان برخوردار است، ولی خواندنش را، به همگان پیشنهاد میکنم. نثر کتاب نیز از آثار برجسته است. بهترین گزیده از متن کتاب: «باید بدانید که برای ستیزیدن با دیگران، دو راه در پیش است: یکی با قانون، دیگری با زور؛ روش نخستین، در خور انسان است، و دومین روش ددان، و از آنجا که روش نخستین چه بسا کارآمد نیست، ناگزیر به دومین، روی می‌باید آورد؛ از اینرو بر شهریار است، كه بداند چگونه روش ددان و انسان را نیک به کار بندد». پایان نقل دوم. ا. شربیانی ...more
4

Dec 04, 2016

Italy in the early 1500's was a sad, dispirited land of constant wars, deaths, destruction, political betrayals, schemes of conquest by greedy aristocrats, trying to enlarge their petty Italian states, invasion by ruthless, foreign troops, from France, Spain, the Swiss, rulers being overthrown and killed, armies continuously marching, towns sacked, fires blazing, black smoke poring into the sky , mercenary soldiers, slaughtering the innocent, pestilence spreading, only the wise, the strong and Italy in the early 1500's was a sad, dispirited land of constant wars, deaths, destruction, political betrayals, schemes of conquest by greedy aristocrats, trying to enlarge their petty Italian states, invasion by ruthless, foreign troops, from France, Spain, the Swiss, rulers being overthrown and killed, armies continuously marching, towns sacked, fires blazing, black smoke poring into the sky , mercenary soldiers, slaughtering the innocent, pestilence spreading, only the wise, the strong and the lucky could abide...Niccolo Machiavelli, during the Renaissance, was a successful politician , and astute diplomat , from volatile Florence, until losing power and influence there...exiled, living seven miles from his native city, bored, he had plenty of time to think, write letters to friends, the nobles and books... and knowing how treacherous men are. His most famous book, The Prince, based on the cunning Cesar Borgia, the illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI, no silly words about the nobility of rulers, ( a brief history, the recent bloodbaths, cities and men making bad decisions, philosophical discussions, how a Prince can remain in charge, at whatever cost) should act for the good of the people, but the real facts ..."Men are wretched creatures"... "It is better to be feared than loved,"..."Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception "...stated the experienced Machiavelli, he knew the hearts of the Princes. Having seen Cesar Borgia and talked at length with him, became an admirer, ( well aware of all his evil, the butchering, and deceit, it can be forgiven in these times ) ...this man could bring peace to his native country, by conquest... chase out the foul, foreign soldiers, unite Italy again, make her a mighty force ...But dreams are only dreams, somethings are not quite possible...."Men are simple", yet events can't be predicted..The Prince, still widely read, and quite important book on the ways of the world, told by a man who was involved during that turbulent era...While Cesar Borgia, The Prince, is greatly sanitized, into a better person, than he really was, this writer wanted to give the Italian reader hope, for a better, more prosperous future...in a land that he loved, the suffering and chaos must end... 500 years after this brilliant, but controversial little book was published, aspects of its contents will be recognized by modern audiences, a new adjective made, Machiavellian ...to deceive people , by clever methods, to gain power... nations rise and fall, the maps change, but men's avarice, do not... ...more
5

Aug 04, 2016



I don't know how come I never reviewed this one but recently I was visiting this friend of mine in south India, Pramod (yes, the one from Goodreads), when he showed me this not-so-popular smaller piece, allegedly written by the author in his last days, 'Le Gente' and never published - for common people about how they can succeed in social life using diplomacy.

There were only twenty copies of same written in 19th century, of which Pramod's was one. Since he is a sort of book-worshipper, he won't

I don't know how come I never reviewed this one but recently I was visiting this friend of mine in south India, Pramod (yes, the one from Goodreads), when he showed me this not-so-popular smaller piece, allegedly written by the author in his last days, 'Le Gente' and never published - for common people about how they can succeed in social life using diplomacy.

There were only twenty copies of same written in 19th century, of which Pramod's was one. Since he is a sort of book-worshipper, he won't let me touch it. Needless to say, I stole it before starting on my return journey.

If he finds about this review, he might unfriend me and sue me for theft - so this review won't be here too long. Anyway, in case of a legal action, I can always take shelter in points 14, 16 and 17 below.

...Ever since my return, I have been made to understand that critics believe these copies to be forgeries, none of these copies completely agree amongst themselves. Moreover, the writing style and some of the words used, suggest a later day authorship.

That being said, I think mine (or Pramod's) made some good points, although they weren't all so original. It will seem them that past and present owners of these copies have been quoting them without mentioning their source.

Since document is medieval and vague, I have been able to translate it only partially. Google translator helps only so much. Here are a few tips I found (I will add more, whenever I’m able to decipher the rest of it):

1. Honesty might win you friends, but not the powerful ones. (The later will be your enemies.)

2. If you delay it to the last moment and pretend to be anxious, one of your friends will come in and want to help you finish the project. Best way to half your workload.

3. Tell them an obvious lie to begin with. This will make them think that you are a bad lier and they will be inclined to believe in your more-cleverly told lies.

4. If you hate doing something - do it wrong the first time, they won't ask you to do it again.

5. Honesty is a terrible policy, that is, unless you put it on auction,
or,
Character doesn't buy food - not unless you get a good price for it.

6. Always pretend to be extremely religious. It creates a halo effect and makes people invest in you, virtues you don't have. Also, if you are lucky, call it ‘Karma’, If you are unlucky, call it ‘God’s mysterious ways’. Always say 'God willing' whenever you make a promise - the best way to shrug off responsibility if you don't want to honor your promise.

7. A clever person always appreciates polite friends. They will let you walk all over them and take credit for their hard work. Nothing like them.

8. Never be on time. Let them wait for you. Teaches them b\how to value you.

9. Lying shows lack of art. The cleverness lies in telling people the selective truth. Still, if you have to lie, do. Scientists say there are alternative worlds in which almost everything is the truth. So, technically you can’t tell a lie. And you can’t be accused if people just assume that you are speaking only of this world.

10. Any show of your real sentiments is a weakness. The ability to show the sentiments that people want to see, even if you don’t have them, on the other hand, is a strength.

11. Never ever let the underdogs fool you into kindness.

12. Always have someone handy to blame* your failure upon.

13. Be quiet, and they will think of you as very wise. Be too talkative, and they will think of you as fools. A clever disguise both ways.

14. If they can’t prove it, you can’t be wrong.

15. If you say it repeatedly and are loud enough, it will become a truth.

16. The only crime is being caught. Criminals have got away with almost everything when they weren’t caught. So, make sure you are never get caught at anything. A clever person reads a law saying ‘Theft is punishable by law’ as ‘Being caught and proved a thief is punishable by law.’

17. At the end of the day, most advocates belong to Devil. And if you happen to come across a righteous one, Devil also happens to have most of the judges. However looking for a legal loophole before you leap is still more beneficial economically.

18. If you owe a bank five thousand dollars, the bank owns you. If you owe a bank five million dollars, you own the bank.

19. Gangsters and soldiers are boys. Managers, Lawyers, priests and politicians are women.

20. Nothing helps in creating money like an unhealthy conscience.

21. There are four kinds of people (the order is such that ones lower in the order have a better chance at being successful);
- those who are good, and are seen by others as good,
- those who are good but are seen by others as wicked.
- those who are and are seen by others as wicked,
- those who are wicked but are seen by others as good (thank you!).

* erroneously written in original Italian as 'lo borgeso' instead of 'lo biasimo'. ...more
5

Dec 10, 2008

In this book, Machiavelli makes his purpose clear: how to get power and keep it.

No happiness. No warm and fuzzy pats on the back. Definitely no hugs. No words of encouragement. Definitely nothing about being nice.

Being nice, in politics, in war, in struggles for power, often ends with one person winning and the other person being in prison, disgraced, exiled, or dead.

That was the context in which Machiavelli wrote this book. Italy at the time was a collection of warring states, not united. In this book, Machiavelli makes his purpose clear: how to get power and keep it.

No happiness. No warm and fuzzy pats on the back. Definitely no hugs. No words of encouragement. Definitely nothing about being nice.

Being nice, in politics, in war, in struggles for power, often ends with one person winning and the other person being in prison, disgraced, exiled, or dead.

That was the context in which Machiavelli wrote this book. Italy at the time was a collection of warring states, not united. One power would seize control, and then it would be lost when that ruler died, or, worse, made a horrible mistake.

Machiavelli did the best thing he could - he took a step back, observed, took notes, and then presented his findings to the person he felt had the most promise at the time.

I love reading reviews about how the books is so this and that, so diabolical and evil and mean, and yet how so many people divorce it from the context it was written in, as if it was created in a vacuum. Remember, people - in his time, if you were a leader, you had some seriously scary decisions to make, and there was no room for emotion, for warmth, nor for sentimentality.

Sure, it might sound like a really screwed up and horrible way to live and think, but when you are a leader of a nation beset on all sides by those who would like nothing more than to invade your country, raze it, and then subject your people to being occupied (or worse), you do what you need to do in order to survive. When you are fighting for survival, all ends do justify the means because the goal is survival. Period.

Machiavelli understood this, and the product was this book. There is a damn good reason why so many people started calling him "the devil." Why the book was put on the Catholic Index of banned books.

The book makes no promises about being nice or this or that. It delivers on what it promises - how a person can gain and acquire power and keep it, and the sometimes ruthless actions necessary to maintain it and protect one's own self.
...more
5

Sep 15, 2011

How to run things and hopefully remain popular but not give a monkey's if they hate you. How to instil enough fear in people that they at least show respect to your face.

Plenty of good lessons here for a politician, but adaptable by anyone if you don't mind being thought evil by your nearest and dearest. And I don't.
0

Jun 15, 2011

I think this was the first time that I read this book from cover to cover rather than dipping in and out of it, I feel that it's reputation is bleaker than it's bite, it seems no more cynical than observing to oneself, when an American political figure says something, that there is an election coming up, and it is far less cynical, or brutally practical than The Memoirs of Philippe de Commynes in my opinion.

It stands out perhaps on two grounds, one it completely avoids conventional Christian I think this was the first time that I read this book from cover to cover rather than dipping in and out of it, I feel that it's reputation is bleaker than it's bite, it seems no more cynical than observing to oneself, when an American political figure says something, that there is an election coming up, and it is far less cynical, or brutally practical than The Memoirs of Philippe de Commynes in my opinion.

It stands out perhaps on two grounds, one it completely avoids conventional Christian morality or conventional Christian moral authorities (but then as far as I recall so does Commynes), and more interestingly he makes the point that for the Prince, private virtues make for public vices, or as one observes of boy scouts, there is no point in doing a good deed unless they are certain that they are going to be observed and that a favourable report will reach the ears of the troop leader.

My overall impression of this short, readable study of how Machiavelli considered politics was conducted during his lifetime in Italy (mostly from Rome northwards) is that it is the work of a political pundit (view spoiler)[ to use a good old Hindi word (hide spoiler)]. And as it often the case with political pundits he has his favourite themes (Cesara Borgia, colonies, and a state maintaining it's own militia) which rather obscure his own analysis, also one can read him inside out. Machiavelli's great topic is the weakness of 'Italy' and it's exposure to 'barbarian' foreigners namely the French, Spanish, and Swiss, and the need for an ambitious prince in search of glory and wealth to follow his advise in order to be successful. But his advice from an inside out perspective reveals the weakness of his analysis and perhaps explains the weakness of the Italian dynasts of this period (perhaps this is always the case with political pundits - through what they don't say or consider they reveal the blindspots and failings of their times).

Written in exile to advertise his skills to the Florentine Medici regime in the hope of returning to political office Machiavelli recommends that a prince keeps two key groups on side: the people, and the nobles, in order to keep the people on side he recommends that you don't rob them too much and to avoid dishonouring their women. Tellingly though the only time the people in his analysis rise up in support of their Prince is when he is already dead. There seems to me as well to be more than a whiff of republicanism in his emphasis on citizen militias, and presumably there were reasons why such armed forces were not maintained by Italian states, precisely I guess because they were a threat to the power of the Italian Princes and their very ambitions that Machiavelli addresses himself to. It struck me, perhaps not very surprising from a man who was tortured, that he believes more in terrorism and treachery than in trust and theatre. Even in his own account we see that the terrorism of the Borgias, although it blazed a bloody trail across central Italy, could sink no deep roots, unlike the careful theatricality of some of their contemporaries.

Overall I felt that this was not so much realpolitik as fantasiepolitik, but perhaps that is always the case, and one senses that Machiavelli's vision of power politics was captivated by the drama of violence.

I was curious to note that although addressed to the Medicis, he doesn't lard on the praise of that family until the last few pages of his book and he never addresses the roots of their power - as bankers, instead as I said, he only has eyes to see violence as a means to gain and maintain power, not that I would want to claim that the Medici were non-violent, but the dagger was not the only tool in their political workshop, and as a result they managed to endure deep into the eighteenth century when they became extinct through natural causes. ...more
4

Sep 01, 2007

A young colleague of mine recently said ‘management is easy’. I smiled enigmatically and considered buying him a copy of ‘The Prince’ but I fear it would be wasted. I am now on my third copy of this book which, alas, I can only read in English. The George Bull translation (as reprinted in 1995) is the version I currently refer to.
I first read this book when studying economic history at high school in the second half of the last century. I was intrigued by Machiavelli’s advice even though I had A young colleague of mine recently said ‘management is easy’. I smiled enigmatically and considered buying him a copy of ‘The Prince’ but I fear it would be wasted. I am now on my third copy of this book which, alas, I can only read in English. The George Bull translation (as reprinted in 1995) is the version I currently refer to.
I first read this book when studying economic history at high school in the second half of the last century. I was intrigued by Machiavelli’s advice even though I had little understanding of the Florentine Republic. I next read the book when looking more generally at political models and at Renaissance history. Since then, I’ve always had a copy: it is as relevant to understanding the art and practice of management as it is to a broader understanding of the models and processes of governance. It also provides some valuable contextual setting for those interested in the Medici.
So why is ‘The Prince’ still relevant? What can we learn from a treatise that was dedicated to Lorenzo de Medici (1492 - 1519) but not published until 1532, some five years after Machiavelli himself was dead?
Specific settings and circumstances may change: general human psychology and motivation does not. There is politics involved in all management. The chasm between management theory and practice is occupied by politics (in all senses) and complicated by the affairs, aspirations and expedient alliances of people.
...more
3

Nov 27, 2014

This book is the perfect representation between the best and the worst of House Slytherin in the Harry Potter verse, and that is how I presented it to my class. I got an A on the paper, so it does make sense.
“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.” Yes Machiavelli, at least you make some logical sense.

Here is my reasoning about Slytherin and The Prince: Slytherin House, which is known for cunningness, astuteness, ambition, thirst for power, This book is the perfect representation between the best and the worst of House Slytherin in the Harry Potter verse, and that is how I presented it to my class. I got an A on the paper, so it does make sense.
“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.” Yes Machiavelli, at least you make some logical sense.

Here is my reasoning about Slytherin and The Prince: Slytherin House, which is known for cunningness, astuteness, ambition, thirst for power, self-preservation, but also fraternity, and that was the one point which drew me away from his way of thinking. He speaks of being cunning and virtuous to keep a principality, but in doing so, one must betray even their own friends, because one cannot trust even those closest to you. I might be seen as naïve for that, but I feel like a lack of understanding of fraternity is what brought many of the princes and their respectable families down.

To avoid contempt and hatred one must avoid taking the property or women of his subjects, he must also possess virtues for which he shall not be criticized, he must not rob the honour of his people, a prince must not be effeminate or cowardly, he shall try his best to be an heir, he must be wary of insurrection within his subjects, and external threats, so he must have a good army and good allies, one coming paired with the other, all of these so as to secure his place in the world. These are the basics of being a good prince, or so says Machiavelli, but I only see him and this book as a walking contradiction. Machiavelli basically says that it is all a matter of luck in the end, for as no matter which of these rules you follow, if you have no luck on your side you can end up assassinated just like all others before you, so his points can only be used if you are lucky; and to be lucky you have to follow his steps, which makes the steps and luck mutually exclusive, indicating that one cannot happen without the other.

Machiavelli's last name is now a symbol of evilness, because of his politics, written down in this book. “If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.” House Lannister anyone? The Red Wedding? As immoral as his views are, they do seem to make some sense, if you are a psychopath with a thirst for power that can hide your evilness with some cunning and charm.

Basically I will recommend this book for a good laugh and fantastic quotes, not because I want anyone to implement his logic into real life. I am quite certain most horrible dictators have at least skipped through this book.
...more
4

Nov 17, 2017

I didn't know exactly what to expect, when starting this classic treatise. As it turns out, the book is very accessible. Machiavelli turns out to have a very pragmatic, and practical approach to governing. One of the most important recommendations he has, is that a governing prince should keep his subjects happy. At least, don't do too many things to make them unhappy. If a governor finds himself with a population that is unhappy with him, then it is very vulnerable to attacks from the outside.

I didn't know exactly what to expect, when starting this classic treatise. As it turns out, the book is very accessible. Machiavelli turns out to have a very pragmatic, and practical approach to governing. One of the most important recommendations he has, is that a governing prince should keep his subjects happy. At least, don't do too many things to make them unhappy. If a governor finds himself with a population that is unhappy with him, then it is very vulnerable to attacks from the outside.

What also struck me, was Machiavelli's vast knowledge of history. So much of the book recalls historical events from all over Europe. It is just amazing, how much detail he has learned about history and historical figures over the centuries of the Middle Ages. ...more
1

Jun 29, 2019

So, it seems there has been a bit of a mix up.

I'm a Tupac fan and having read an article that mentioned that Tupac read this book while in prison and found it profoundly enlightening I decided it was a must read for me, I clicked and its sat on the kindle for almost two years , until now.

I had no idea what this was about, I just assumed I was going to read a fairly raucous fictional story about a Prince.

So you can imagine my shock when I read the opening chapter, i very quickly realised that So, it seems there has been a bit of a mix up.

I'm a Tupac fan and having read an article that mentioned that Tupac read this book while in prison and found it profoundly enlightening I decided it was a must read for me, I clicked and its sat on the kindle for almost two years , until now.

I had no idea what this was about, I just assumed I was going to read a fairly raucous fictional story about a Prince.

So you can imagine my shock when I read the opening chapter, i very quickly realised that when it comes to book recommendations, Tupac and me are not compatible.

I feel bad for giving this a one star as this is entirely my fault however it meets all the criteria, I had to drag myself through, I understood little and the only satisfaction I received was reaching the end.

Sorry Machiavelli. ...more
5

Sep 27, 2014

Niccolò Machiavelli considers that human desires and states of spirit are always the same. Thus he studies the past and seeks in history the explanations for the reality of his time. The history can predict future events and use the same old ways, or in failing, that creates other forms of action. Machiavelli asserted that all men are driven by selfish interests with no particular personal ambition and material prosperity at any cost. Homo hominis lupus (The man is the wolf of the man). Niccolò Machiavelli considers that human desires and states of spirit are always the same. Thus he studies the past and seeks in history the explanations for the reality of his time. The history can predict future events and use the same old ways, or in failing, that creates other forms of action. Machiavelli asserted that all men are driven by selfish interests with no particular personal ambition and material prosperity at any cost. Homo hominis lupus (The man is the wolf of the man). Deprivations lead man to work, to associative life. However, in the associated groups conflicts arise, since in each group, the individual until then seeks their own interests. Politics emerges as an instrument of power whose importance is manifested in the search for instruments and in the definition of objectives to establish order and prevent the destruction of society. Niccolò Machiavelli is called the father of modern society. Such a sense of Machiavelli traced the first ideas of the doctrine of the Modern State, that is, the absolutist state as necessary to be consolidated and strong without moral limitation for the action of the governing authority, and of notably positivist conception away from the natural law. From Machiavelli there was an exchange of the classical doctrines of politics based on the ideas of a limited government and of the ethical bases (moral bases). The ends justify the means.
For Machiavelli, the state was an end in itself. The supreme duty of the ruler is to maintain the order, the power, and the security of the country he governed. For this, the ruler must use the necessary means to enable him to this obligation, adopting:
a) There must have confidence in the governed; b) They should not expect loyalty or affection, but respect in their decisions; c) If need be, be cynical and misleading in order to convince the governed who are working for them; d) Do good in small doses, but if you need to do something stronger or violent, you must do it quickly, so as not to cause horror or revolt, but compliance and respect; e) In the work The Prince, points out that rulers can be praised or hated; f) The Prince must act in such a way as to avoid ruining himself, but rather preserves himself. If necessary he will launch against each other, for his own advantage or will let things happen simply; g) The Prince must be prudent, and prudence is his chief virtue. He should use other virtues that have a careful way to avoid its ruin. On the contrary, if he have vices, he should make them look virtuous, aiming at his own security and his well-being. ...more
3

May 31, 2019

The Prince is a political treatise written by a Florentine diplomat, Niccolo Machiavelli. Written at a time of foreign invasion and rule of different parts of Italy, Machiavelli wrote this treatise and dedicated to Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici of the Medici family in the hope that one strong ruler will emerge from that powerful house to drive away the foreign rulers from Italy.

This treatise is mainly concerned on the acquisition and preservation of power. It contains Machiavelli's detailed The Prince is a political treatise written by a Florentine diplomat, Niccolo Machiavelli. Written at a time of foreign invasion and rule of different parts of Italy, Machiavelli wrote this treatise and dedicated to Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici of the Medici family in the hope that one strong ruler will emerge from that powerful house to drive away the foreign rulers from Italy.

This treatise is mainly concerned on the acquisition and preservation of power. It contains Machiavelli's detailed advice to the Princes how to gain power and preserve it enabling them to rule the kingdom for a lifetime and to achieve glory.

Machiavelli, being a former diplomat and also a military commander for Florentine Republic, wrote this based on his personal expertise. Thus one can see a comprehensive account on all the areas of concern that a ruler should consider when he comes to power, for according to Machiavelli gaining power is easier than preserving it. However, the advice given by this treatise is controversial for it advocates the Princes to achieve glory by acquiring power and survive being in power by resorting to any means of conduct, even though they would be immoral. For example, Machiavelli says that the Prince must only be careful not to be hated and despised and that if he should choose between love and fear of his subjects that he should chose fear, for that will help him more to be in power. He also says what appears to the eyes of the subjects is what matters and to keep the appearance of being good, merciful and religious. Machiavelli further say a good prince should be a good liar and a deceiver! Reading The Prince I wondered if all the leaders around the world had read this 16th century treatise and taken Machiavelli's advise to heart.

As a normal "subject", I don't agree with Machiavelli's views. Then again, I'm no politician or any big shot who think of acquiring power. I'm only a disinterested reader. Nevertheless, from an objective point of view, there is some truth in Machiavelli's wisdom. Overall, it was an interesting read (despite its contents) and I really enjoyed reading the many historical events referred to in it. ...more
3

Jul 31, 2018

“…men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, because it belongs to everybody to see you, to few to come in touch with you. Everyone sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are…”

What a simple quote that holds so much influence. The same can be said for the book in general.

Besides the fact that history has always been one of my favourite subjects, as a dual citizen who has spent a lot of time in Italy, I felt like I would benefit from reading this to understand a little “…men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, because it belongs to everybody to see you, to few to come in touch with you. Everyone sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are…”

What a simple quote that holds so much influence. The same can be said for the book in general.

Besides the fact that history has always been one of my favourite subjects, as a dual citizen who has spent a lot of time in Italy, I felt like I would benefit from reading this to understand a little bit more about where my family comes from with regards to the important people and political events that have helped shape it. Maybe something written by a person who was considered immoral and degenerate by many wasn’t the best way to go about that, but I figured that if it was banned, there must be something in it that would pique my interest (lol ooops).

This book had more to do with practices that get you ahead versus what the right or nice course of action to take is, and although Machiavelli intended for his advice to be applied in the political world, it can be applied in ordinary circumstances, too. I liked that it was short and to the point, but if you are looking for something to read that you can get away with daydreaming through, this isn’t it. It does require full and undivided attention, but if you are able to focus on it you will leave the book more knowledgeable than when you started it. ...more
5

Jan 31, 2018

'We can say that cruelty is used well... when it is employed once for all, and one's safety depends on it, and then it is not persisted in but as far as possible turned to the good of one's subjects.'

The Prince is unlike anything I've read before. In many ways it feels like a truly evil book. Stalin, for example, kept an annotated copy of it. It reads as the blueprint for tyrants, despots, and politicians around the world - a guide to how the world of the powerful and the powerless truly works. 'We can say that cruelty is used well... when it is employed once for all, and one's safety depends on it, and then it is not persisted in but as far as possible turned to the good of one's subjects.'

The Prince is unlike anything I've read before. In many ways it feels like a truly evil book. Stalin, for example, kept an annotated copy of it. It reads as the blueprint for tyrants, despots, and politicians around the world - a guide to how the world of the powerful and the powerless truly works. But, sadly, it does work. It is not evil insofar as it is clearly correct in its observations. Which raised several questions in the process of reading it about how I live my life.

The book falls into a category known as 'Mirrors for Princes', being books designed to educate the children of powerful men how to rule. The Prince in particular is written as a letter from Machiavelli to Lorenzo de Medici in 26 sections. Each section contains a few nuggets of information, supported by evidence from contemporary politics or from the ancient world. While some of the language and style (reviewing the translation by George Bull) is definitely archaic, in many ways it feels very modern. To begin with these sections focus on defining, conquering, and subjugating principalities, with practical advice for princes on how to make, and hold on to, territorial gains. Later however the text shifts, and focuses more on the nature of being a ruler and how to play the political game. The jist of the book can be summarised as 'effective truth is more important than any ideals, and power and survival justify any means, even if they are immoral'.

As such after getting over frankly rather tiresome advice on whether or not to live in a newly-conquered territory or to govern from abroad, or the benefits of mercenaries versus a civilian army, the book takes a decidedly evil turn. Machiavelli praises men who do terrible, violent, underhanded deeds in the name of retaining power, and worst of all as a reader you can't help but see the logic to it all. These are the unspoken rules of how men like Tywin Lannister and Walter White in fiction stay at the top of the pyramid, and how men like Stalin and Saddam Hussein ruled with an iron fist. To see the rules of the game laid bare in front of you is a disconcerting experience, and makes you ask yourself: why do I not do this? While not a totally satisfying answer, perhaps I (erroneously?) value abstract ideals more than survival.

I have read discussion that The Prince may have been written as a satire (from the preface: 'to comprehend fully the nature of the people, one must be a prince, and to comprehend fully the nature of princes one must be an ordinary citizen') but to me this book is a comprehensive primer on how to rule and be feared. It is dangerous, fascinating, and demands to be read. ...more
3

Feb 26, 2015

Libertine magazine issue 3 has a quote down the spine:

it is the common good, and not private gain, that makes the cities great

I like to quote this to friends and play the yes-no game at guessing who said it. Everyone is stunned that it was Machiavelli.

In times when Machiavelli sounds radical, look sharp = /
5

Oct 20, 2015

Mandatory reading for Earthlings. Incredible insights on humanity, experience, perception, glory and honor, power and survival.

Will re-read.

“Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.”

"And in examining their life and deeds it will be seen that they owed nothing to fortune but the opportunity which gave them matter to be shaped into the form that they thought fit; and without that opportunity their powers would have been wasted, and without their powers the opportunity Mandatory reading for Earthlings. Incredible insights on humanity, experience, perception, glory and honor, power and survival.

Will re-read.

“Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.”

"And in examining their life and deeds it will be seen that they owed nothing to fortune but the opportunity which gave them matter to be shaped into the form that they thought fit; and without that opportunity their powers would have been wasted, and without their powers the opportunity would have come in vain."

- The Prince ...more
5

Aug 15, 2007

I will go out on a limb to say that second only to the major religious works (the Bible, the Koran, etc.), Nicolo Macchiavellie's "The Prince" is the most important and influential work that has ever been put into print. Composed by the Florentine in the 16th Century, "The Prince" provides the blueprint not just for the Renaissance ruler for whom it was allegedly penned, but also for anyone in politics, warfare, or even contemporary business. Machiavelli's premises may seem extreme to many I will go out on a limb to say that second only to the major religious works (the Bible, the Koran, etc.), Nicolo Macchiavellie's "The Prince" is the most important and influential work that has ever been put into print. Composed by the Florentine in the 16th Century, "The Prince" provides the blueprint not just for the Renaissance ruler for whom it was allegedly penned, but also for anyone in politics, warfare, or even contemporary business. Machiavelli's premises may seem extreme to many (hence the adjectival "Machiavellian," meaning extremely censorius and penury), but his notions on alliances and leadership showcase a brilliant mind who paid attention not only to his contemporaries, but also to his ancestors to find the lessons (and the errors) made by countless generals and kings throughout Italian and European history.

"It is better to be feared than loved" is perhaps his most oft-quoted aphorism, but what of his warnings against arming lesser powers and of never trusting mercenaries (who can always be compromised by a higher bidder)? We need look only to the newspaper to find out that the current system--from the current Bush Administration and going back 50-some odd years--has fallen victim to Machiavelli's lessons again and again. One need only think of the blunders of the CIA, the Bay of Pigs, the Iran-Contra scandal, and yes, Iraq, to see that Machiavelli is as relevant today as he was half a millenium ago. The axiom states that we are doomed to repeat our own defective history should we not heed its lessons. If five centuries after "The Prince," governments and kingdoms have still learned nothing, then days darker than the Black Death may yet be ahead.

This is one of the greatest works in print, of any time, of any place, in any language. Read it, learn it, live it!






...more
5

Aug 02, 2012

Sound Advice for a Budding Ruler
2 August 2012

Having now read this book three times I sort of wonder how Machiavelli's name came to represent a sort of politics that involved deceit, manipulation, and backstabbing, because for those who claim that this is what the Prince is about have probably read the wrong book, or probably not read the book at all. Somebody even suggested that The Prince was satire because they could not imagine that anybody would suggest such actions to anybody, especially Sound Advice for a Budding Ruler
2 August 2012

Having now read this book three times I sort of wonder how Machiavelli's name came to represent a sort of politics that involved deceit, manipulation, and backstabbing, because for those who claim that this is what the Prince is about have probably read the wrong book, or probably not read the book at all. Somebody even suggested that The Prince was satire because they could not imagine that anybody would suggest such actions to anybody, especially if that person was seeking to live a virtuous life. To the person who claims that The Prince is satire my response is that Machiavelli is deadly serious. He was not laughing when he wrote this book, and his audience were not laughing when they were reading it. As for the person who claims that the book is about scheming and manipulation, I respond by asking them to show me where it says that because after the third time I struggle to actually find anything of the sort. Further, in response to them, I will also suggest that if you are a ruler then you ignore Machiavelli's advice at your own peril.

Before I go further to expound upon what Machiavelli is advising in this book we must first look at the context in which it was written. I say this because if we apply Machiavelli's principles to the modern day you will probably find yourself in The Hague being charged with war crimes. To be blunt, we simply cannot apply Machiavelli's advice as written to the modern world, in the same way that we cannot act in the way Joshua (of the Bible fame) acted when the Israelites invaded the promised land.

Now, Machiavelli was writing to a Florentine Prince in 14th Century Italy (which puts us right in the middle of the Renaissance). Now, today we live in a world with instantaneous communication where there are a handful of powers that dominate world affairs, and is governed by a basic parliamentary style institution (which we call the United Nations). However, that did not exist in Machiavelli's time. These days there are effectively four superpowers (Russia, China, Europe, and the United States) and practically every other country will throw their allegiance behind one of them (usually for protection against the others). Any alliances that exist between the superpowers are tenuous at best (though Europe and the United States do have a reasonably strong relationship, though it does not mean that Europe will always vote in accordance with the US's wishes).

However Renaissance Italy was much different. While the church still had power, it was in decline. Gone were the days of Pope Innocent III where kings would fear excommunication for even thinking in opposition to the Pope, and gone were the days when the Pope sat securely on his throne in Rome, however the church still held sway over Western Europe. Still, it did not come down to the church having control, but which noble family had control over the church (one could easily swing the church over to your side by installing your man in as pope, as the Medici's, among others, had managed to do on occasion). There were some large kingdoms, such as France and Spain, that could influence control, but in many cases these kingdoms were not exactly powerful, and one could protect oneself by playing them off against each other. There was also Venice, which was a very powerful maritime power, but when it came to domination over the land, it was quite weak. Venice's navy was powerless against landlocked principalities such as Florence and Milan. Northern Italy (as well as Germany) were not unified nation-states, but a collection of city states and principalities that would forever be at each other's throat, and while there was a titular 'Holy Roman Empire' he was effectively powerless. In fact he did not even have his own army, but had to rely upon the generosity of his allies to attempt to exert control, and as Phillip of Spain discovered when he was elected emperor: ruling Spain and ruling the Holy Roman Empire involved a completely different skill set.

Now that we have an idea of the political situation of the time, let us now consider what Machiavelli is actually saying. The theme that runs through the book is how to be an effective prince and how to survive: to do that you need to be respected (loved and feared) and not hated. Machiavelli is very clear on this point because if you are hated then you are not long for this world. Remember, Renaissance Italy is like 'The Game of Thrones' on steroids, and as it is said in The Game of Thrones, 'when you play the game of thrones you either win or you die'. That, my friend, is 14th century Italy.

Now, it is clear from the first couple of pages of this essay (because that is what it is) that Machiavelli means what he says. First he says that there are two forms of government, the principality, which is the rule by a human, and there is the republic, which is the rule by a constitution. He points to another book he has written, The Discourses, which deals with the republic, so he skips over that system of government and focuses on the idea of rule by a human. The main difference is that where the state is ruled by a human, the human can effectively do what they want. The only restraint on their power is the potential that they are removed from their position, usually by force. They cannot forfeit their role simply by breaking the law because they are the law. One of the things that he warns against is living in excess, namely because that generates hatred among the subjects, and when that happens all they need to do is to either rebel and thus overthrow you, or petition one of your enemies to come and remove you.

Machiavelli also makes extensive use of examples of other princes, both modern (in his time that is) and ancient. Now, all of the ancient sources that Machiavelli had we also have so we can easily check his references, however with a number of the modern examples we only have him to rely upon. However you can be assured that his readers would have been well aware of the political situation at the time. Simply put, he could not make them up. In any case it is very clear that he is not writing to an idiot, but to an intelligent person that would be quite well aware of what he is talking about. Further, he also appeals to common sense, but uses examples to prove why that course of action is wise. For example, he talks about using auxiliary troops (that is borrowing an army from another prince) and why such a course of action is foolish. The reason being is that if you lose you are going to have another prince that is somewhat upset with you because you have weakened his position. However, if you win, then you have a neighbouring territory that is occupied by a foreign army that is more than likely not going to leave. As such this situation is a lose lose situation.

Now, can we apply his principles to today and my response is that we can. One of the managers at my former work would give new team leaders a copy of The Art of War explaining that the principles that Sun Tzu uses to fight wars can also be used to manage a team, or even a department. I would suggest that the same applies to 'Il Principe'. Yet we simply cannot take the book as is and apply it literally simply because, as mentioned above, we will get into trouble (and we simply cannot invade and conquer our neighbour's team). However the principles of respect and hatred apply. As a manager we need to inspire respect within those we are managing, we cannot demand respect because that garners hatred, and by garnering hatred, we undermine our position. However we need to garner respect, and if that means making an example of a disruptive and rebellious team member, then so be it. In fact, that is expected, because once again if we don't make an example of a rebellious team member we end up undermining our own position.

In my time I have seen team leaders as leaders who have earned the respect of their team, and advanced. I have also seen team leaders act as bosses which results in them being removed or demoted. I have also seen team leaders play their team members up against each other, and while they survived for a time, their position was eventually undermined. Indeed Machiavelli does say that there are times when playing factions off against each other will strengthen your position, however it will not work all the time. In fact, while it may strengthen your position when you are at peace, it undermines your position when you are at war. Then there is fairness and justice (another theme that runs through this book) because by doing so may result in a perception of injustice, and indeed a team that fights amongst itself and stabs each other for their own personal gain (and to garner favouritism with the leader) may work in the short term but will ultimately fail. A team where each of the members respects and supports each other is an effective team (and I have seen that happen where a team goes from being at the bottom to being at the top) while a team that is at each other's throats will eventually find themselves collapsing in on their own disunity. ...more
3

Apr 27, 2017

People who need to read this? A certain orange someone whose name rhymes with Ronald Rump.

There were definitely moments in this that made me yell "OMG YES" at my tablet, because despite being written in the early 1500s, there's a LOT of stuff in this that's still completely relevant to politics today.

But there was ALSO a lot in here that was incredibly dry and just kind of boring and that I just didn't really give a shit about. So. I think it's one that's important to read at least once. But I People who need to read this? A certain orange someone whose name rhymes with Ronald Rump.

There were definitely moments in this that made me yell "OMG YES" at my tablet, because despite being written in the early 1500s, there's a LOT of stuff in this that's still completely relevant to politics today.

But there was ALSO a lot in here that was incredibly dry and just kind of boring and that I just didn't really give a shit about. So. I think it's one that's important to read at least once. But I doubt I'll bother rereading this in the future. ...more
0

Apr 25, 2008

JANUARY 2017: One aspect of this how-to manual deals with doing a whole lot of infamous things at the same time to keep adversaries/complainants on the back foot, and this really does seem to be the MO over the pond at this moment. A revisit via youtube animation

This book, and its agéd source, 'The Art of War', are in his top ten of books. I didn't see in either book the part where the prince falls out off his fucking head trying to achieve all the sociopathic manouvering alluded to.

Unrated.

JANUARY 2017: One aspect of this how-to manual deals with doing a whole lot of infamous things at the same time to keep adversaries/complainants on the back foot, and this really does seem to be the MO over the pond at this moment. A revisit via youtube animation

This book, and its agéd source, 'The Art of War', are in his top ten of books. I didn't see in either book the part where the prince falls out off his fucking head trying to achieve all the sociopathic manouvering alluded to.

Unrated.

------------------------------------



1: 4 Extra Debut. The Florentine philosopher's tour-de-force, introduced by the BBC's political editor Nick Robinson and read by Peter Firth.
2: Is it better to be loved or feared? Renaissance political insights introduced by Nick Robinson and read by Peter Firth.
3: In times of peace, make preparations for war.
4: Using 'good' cruelty and bad to gain power
5: Choosing advisors, not flatterers. ...more
5

Mar 07, 2012

After 500 or so years of people writing about, arguing about, despising, lauding and picking apart this book, it's hard for me to come up with anything new to say.

Was Machiavelli being sarcastic? Was he publishing a book on how to rule amorally so as to stir up the peasants and make them revolt? Was he trying to bring rule of law into Italy, by any means necessary, and so sent instructions to the Medici's, hoping that that family's demonstrated ruthlessness would be able curb the wayward After 500 or so years of people writing about, arguing about, despising, lauding and picking apart this book, it's hard for me to come up with anything new to say.

Was Machiavelli being sarcastic? Was he publishing a book on how to rule amorally so as to stir up the peasants and make them revolt? Was he trying to bring rule of law into Italy, by any means necessary, and so sent instructions to the Medici's, hoping that that family's demonstrated ruthlessness would be able curb the wayward country?

I don't know, I wasn't there, and I'm not about to start an argument over it. What I can tell you is that this is an interesting read. The translation I read was not as hard to parse as old-timey writing tends to be for me, and while I certainly had to concentrate, I was not overwhelmed.

The fact is, I love reading stories about Machiavellian bastards; rulers with amoral machinations, men who have planned every step of the conflict well ahead, princes who know how every ally and every opponent is going to react well ahead of time, and is just waiting for everyone to run headlong into the clever trap laid out with subtlety and style.

Taking this as a handbook for "awesome fictional villains" is a fun exercise, that might stem your tendency to be horrified at the sorts of things Machiavelli is supporting(at face value, anyways). Should you read this book? Absolutely: it's not very long, and it will make your inner super villian cackle most deliciously.
...more

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