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The Prince (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 8 May 2003


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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: 12.8 x 0.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"[Machiavelli] can still engage our attention with remarkable immediacy, and this cannot be explained solely by the appeal of his ironic observations on human behaviour. Perhaps the most important thing is the way he can compel us to reflect on our own priorities and the reasoning behind them; it is this intrusion into our own defenses that makes reading him an intriguing experience. As a scientific exponent of the political art Machiavelli may have had few followers; it is as a provocative rhetorician that he has had his real impact on history." -from the Introduction by Dominic Baker-Smith

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.

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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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By D. E. Turner on 22 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
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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125 of 136 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 3 Feb. 2005
Format: Paperback
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S.E. Haughton on 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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Format: Paperback
"Welcome to your new kingdom. We hope you will enjoy a long and productive ownership, and to facilitate this please read the following instructions carefully. Firstly please study the art of war carefully and personally take charge of your citizen army. Do NOT use forces from other suppliers as that would invalidate your warranty. In diplomacy avoid alliances with stronger powers if at all possible, but protect and support weaker powers without permitting them to increase territory. Treat your subordinates well but make sure you always delegate the unpopular tasks to those not closely identified with your Personage. It is vital to have a sound economy and a reputation for generosity would hinder you in this. It is however important that you are regarded as a pious, honourable and religious man but you must be able to lie and break promises without getting caught.

Your eternal servant, Nick 'Oldie' M."

These are some of Machiavelli's key recommendations. A first reading is striking and shocking for the abscence of moral value judgements - as if he aspired to be a pure political scientist indifferent to how the knowledge might be used. A careful reading suggests a harsh utilitarian morality: it is better to kill people now if it firmly establishes your rule and allows your subjects to live peacefully and safely in the long term, than that in attempting to be good now you should promise more than you can deliver, leading to dissatisfcation and disorder.

Like any brutal honesty Machiavelli's words are hard to listen to - even if we disagree with him. However they are well worth the effort. For a start they are a wake up call as to what the world of politics is really like and we can test our moral convictions against his understanding of the world.
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Format: Paperback
"Machiavellian" - not normally considered a term of approbation. There are numerous editions of this classic book on the use of political power, written in the 16th Century. In my edition, which I first purchased and read over 40 years ago, there is an introduction by Christian Gauss. In it, he says: "On the strength of a famous essay of Macaulay's, the notion had become fairly widespread that the devil himself had become familiarly known as the Old Nick only because Niccolo had been Machiavelli's first name." Machiavelli based his book on what seems to be an eminently sensible proposition: instead of describing an ideal world or society, why not describe political power in the context of the real world, shorn of moral considerations. He best formulated this premise in chapter 15, on "Of the Things for which Men, and Especially Princes, are Praised or Blamed," when he says: "Therefore it is necessary for a prince who wishes to maintain himself, to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge and not use it, according to the necessity of the case."

Machiavelli was a contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci, and lived at a time when the Popes, like Alexander VI, openly fathered children, despite that much tattered vow of chastity. On my recent re-read, the classic and timeless nature of Machiavelli's insights was confirmed. Various passages could have tumbled out of today's headlines: "Thus it came about that King Charles of France was allowed to take Italy without the slightest trouble, and those who said that it was owing to our sins..." Sounds like Pat Robertson pontificating about the reasons for 9-11, or the Haiti earthquake - it was God's wrath at our sins! There are substantial passages dedicated to the quality and type of soldiers that fight on behalf of your country.
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