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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 (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.


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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

9 of 9 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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124 of 135 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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Alaska on 13 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is not a review of The Prince as this has already been done very adequately by previous reviewers, and it is indeed a brilliant political writing. However the Dover Thrift edition of it isn't the best, its printed on very cheap paper and bound in a cheap cover, this may not be important for some people. If you just need to standard text for quick reference then this is good enough but if you want a bit more of a substantial book with a very good introduction then I would spend a couple more quid and buy the Penguin edition (which I have just done).
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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By wuzzle on 17 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
Great cheap edition of this book. Not the best quality paper, so probably not the best idea for a present. However, if you just want to read the book yourself its more than adequate. Giving it 5 stars due to its value for money.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. O. Ogunwusi on 24 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
Machiavelli raises the worrisome spectre that power is a stranger to morality. The atrocious standards of ruthlessness that a ruler often has to observe to acquire and maintain power buttress the claim that absolute power corrupts absolutely; because great men are almost always, bad men. It is the authentic bible of the cult of power.
The Prince is a jarring testament that the gilded corridors of power as portrayed by the kleiglights only mask the true pathway, a road filled with the blood and corpses of the squeamish and fainthearted. These same words Alexander the Great had put accross with robust military poetry: fortuna favore fortis!
Indeed, power is not everything. It is the only thing.
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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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