This is a major new scholarly biography of Machiavelli, the first for thirty years. Niccolo di Bernardo Machiavelli is not only one of the most fascinating figures of the Italian Renaissance, an outstanding author and statesman, he is also indisputably one of the most influential of political theorists, whose fundamental contribution to politics remains astonishingly pertinent to us today. His life was dramatic to the extreme. He achieved notable heights of success as defense secretary and a diplomat. He reformed the Florentine military, replacing mercenary armies with citizens' militia. But his fall from grace was nearly as swift as his rise. Unlike many revolutionary thinkers (Hume, Hobbes, Locke, Burke, Marx) he developed his theories amid the turmoil of his world. His philosophy is thus based on the practical if sordid world he witnessed. The purpose of "The Prince" continues to be contentiously debated. It explores themes which still resonate more than four centuries later: politics and morality, politics as conflict, politics and warfare, corruption and civic stability and the purpose of power, religion, liberty and politics in general. All this is also part of Paul Oppenheimer's compelling account.