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The Prince (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Niccolo Machiavelli , George Bull
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
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Book Description

8 May 2003 Penguin Classics
The Prince shocked Europe on publication with its ruthless tactics for gaining absolute power and its abandonment of conventional morality. Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) came to be regarded as some by an agent of the Devil and his name taken for the intriguer 'Machevill' of Jacobean tragedy. For his treatise on statecraft Machiavelli drew upon his own experience of office under the turbulent Florentine republic, rejecting traditional values of political theory and recognizing the complicated, transient nature of political life. Concerned not with lofty ideals, but with a regime that would last, The Prince has become the Bible of realpolitik, and still retains its power to alarm and to instruct.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 1 edition (8 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449159
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449150
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 0.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) was a Florentine statesman who was later forced out of public life. He then devoted himself to studying and writing political philosophy, history, fiction, and drama.

Product Description

About the Author

Niccoló Machiavelli (1469-1527) was appointed secretary and Second Chancellor to the Florentine Republic in 1498. He was dismissed from his post in 1512 and forced to withdraw from public life, after which time he wrote THE PRINCE, a handbook for rulers. GEORGE BULL translated widely from the Italian, including for Penguin Classics including Cellini's 'Autobiography' and Vasari's 'Lives of the Artists'. ANTHONY GRAFTON teaches European intellectual history at Princeton University.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Men who are anxious to win the favour of a Prince nearly always follow the custom of presenting themselves to him with the possessions they value most, or with things they know especially please him; so we often see princes given horses, weapons, cloth of gold, precious stones, and similar ornaments worthy of their high position. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Prince 22 Jun 2009
This is a book which has been on my "must read" for ages. I only wish I had read it before. I think I can already pick out the people who live by its rules. A true classic.
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121 of 132 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The virtues of Machiavelli 3 Feb 2005
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
In the course of my political science training, I studied at great length the modern idea of realpolitik. In that study I came to realise that it was somewhat incomplete, without the companionship of The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli, a Florentine governmental official in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. The Prince is an oft quoted, oft mis-quoted work, used as the philosophical underpinning for much of what is considered both pragmatic and wrong in politics today. To describe someone as being Machiavellian is to attribute to the person ruthless ambition, craftiness and merciless political tactics. Being believed to be Machiavellian is generally politically incorrect. Being Machiavellian, alas, can often be politically expedient.
Machiavelli based his work in The Prince upon his basic understanding of human nature. He held that people are motivated by fear and envy, by novelty, by desire for wealth, power and security, and by a hatred of restriction. In the Italy in which he was writing, democracy was an un-implemented Greek philosophical idea, not a political structure with a history of success; thus, one person's power usually involved the limitation of another person's power in an autocratic way.
Machiavelli did not see this as a permanent or natural state of being -- in fact, he felt that, during his age, human nature had been corrupted and reduced from a loftier nobility achieved during the golden ages of Greece and Rome. He decided that it was the corrupting influence of Christianity that had reduced human nature, by its exaltation of meekness, humility, and otherworldliness.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bible for the Power-Hungry 8 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The infamous Niccolo and his famous work. I purchased this book for my Politics course at University and Machiavelli was the first thinker we studied this year, with this book being the focus.

Remember, the "Prince" is someone who holds a position of power, or is destined to or wishes to hold a position of power, and the book is the manifesto that that individual must adhere to in order to attain and sustain power.

You can understand why The Prince continues to take people by surprise, but with an open mind you can understand where Machiavelli is coming from, although most people would disagree with the slightly barbaric tone that runs throughout.

A vital book to own for any political thinker, student or someone who simply holds an interest in political theory and history or even the history of Italy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The essential guide to real politics 9 Jan 2011
An absolute classic that everyone should read at least once.

It is a clearly written dissection of the reality of politics in its widest sense, applicable across all times and walks of life and with an enduring impact (eg for a surprising contemporary example see the thriller Heavy Duty People - link below)

Heavy Duty People
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This often misquoted and misunderstood guide (generally by those who have never read or studied it) for those who aspire to political or organizational power is still relevant almost 500 years after its original 1532 publication. Machiavelli's name is now undeservedly a synonym for scheming, cynicism and ruthlessness: in fact `The Prince' is the work of a far-sighted and experienced realist which predicts in detail the outcome of any course of action undertaken by a ruler/leader/monarch/president/CEO (i.e. "Prince") who aspires to run any organization/state/conquered territory and clearly explains in plain language the way to succeed and maintain position.

In 26 succinct chapters each with a themed focus, the author outlines the consequences of a range of any would-be leader's actions with an impressive directness and brevity of language, making the book a concise but deep and information-packed `How to do it and avoid mistakes' guide to leadership. On the use of cruelty (despotism/tyranny in modern jargon) for example:

"Cruelty can be called `well-used' if executed at a single stroke out of necessity to secure one's power, and is then not continued but converted into the greatest possible benefit to one's subjects. Badly used cruelty...even if initially limited, increases with time...those who follow the first path can maintain their position ...
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of THE most important works ever written 25 Aug 2007
This masterpiece of reasoning and good practical handbook on how to get ahead in real life if you happen to be already a man of some means, was a work of great humanity in an age when humanity was still considered disgusting and subserviant to the Lord above and his chosen servants on Earth. What a shot across the bows to all those religious hypocrites and Bible following automatons this must have been, then. Two elements surrounding this work's brave publication are crucial, I feel: One being that this was Italy, (as it became) and at its advanced stage of the great Renaissance, as we now know it, and the second being that it was written at a time which was just right to be publishing order challenging controversial works. After seeing the liberal benefits to man that the use of the printing press had brought, and the world of possibilities it offered, Machiavelli struck the first blow against the stifling and corrupt order of the age.

His publication of political thought and theory which was refreshingly devoid of religious dogma or even quotations, preceded the publication of that other world changing document by three or four years: Luther's pinning of the ninety five thesis to a Church door a few hundred miles north in an area still ruled by edicts pumped out by prelates living closer to Machiavelli. This was exactly the right time to be reaching the learned men of the world with anything revolutionary in tone, and well presented and researched contradictions of established thought were very lible to strike a chord with many. In other words, many people by this time had clearly had all they could stomach of the seething hypocrisy they witnessed being displayed by the Lord's own servants, in the church and consequently in the monarchy led governments of the age.
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