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The New Machiavelli: How to Wield Power in the Modern World [Paperback]

Jonathan Powell
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 July 2011

The New Machiavelli is a gripping account of life inside 'the bunker' of Number 10. In his twenty-first century reworking of Niccolo Machiavelli's influential masterpiece, The Prince, Jonathan Powell - Tony Blair's Chief of Staff from 1994 - 2007 - recounts the inside story of that period, drawing on his own unpublished diaries.

Taking the lessons of Machiavelli derived from his experience as an official in fifteenth-century Florence, Powell shows how these lessons can still apply today. Illustrating each of Machiavelli's maxims with a description of events that occurred during Tony Blair's time as Prime Minister, The New Machiavelli is designed to be The Prince for modern times.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (28 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099546094
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099546092
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Intriguing and engaging book... sets up fascinating parallels that prove there is really nothing new in politics" (Financial Times)

"A gloriously indiscreet political memoir... From a unique vantage point he gives brilliantly observed and witty accounts of the vanity of modern European princes... The merit of Powell's memoir is precisely that it lacks the intrusive ego of the big politician" (Dominic Lawson Sunday Times)

"It's a quirky, thoughtful take on the impact of The Prince on modern politics" (Anne McElvoy New Statesman, Books of the Year)

"Anyone who wants an insider's account of what makes politicians tick should read this book" (Peter Mandelson Guardian, Books of the Year)

"It tells us a great deal about the era that has just passed" (Chris Mullin Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year)

Book Description

From a former close adviser to Tony Blair, a devastating, frank and insightful analysis of how power is wielded in the modern world

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
This is a good read, and for those interested in the Blair years, one of the best books from the pro-Blair camp. Powell was the ultimate insider, always at Blair's side. He is searing in his judgement on Gordon Brown, and backs this up with chapter and verse on exactly how Brown was so toxic. I read this soon after reading DC Confidental, Sir Christopher Meyer's book, and it covers much of the same ground (9/11, Iraq etc.). Both are worth reading.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprise read 24 Nov 2010
By Nesbo
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is a surprising page turner - couldn't put it down.
Fascinating how apropos Macheiveli's observations were regarding the wielding of power, but how Powell, after making such interesting comparisons indicating that flakey Blair and the pathetic nightmare that was Brown, ignored most of Machiaveli's advise, that he still considers Blair will go down in history as one of the best Prime Ministers of all time made me laugh out loud.
That the chaos, incompetence, the downright melicious and mendatious game playing that went on behind the scenes of New Labour, was allowed to carry on for such a long time, thus bringing the general publics attitudue to politics and politicians into the gutter, is truly shocking.
An excellent read but a shaming lesson on how not to behave.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good,but not the whole truth. 18 April 2011
Powell Jonathan, The New Machiavelli: How to wield power in the modern world (London, The Bodley Head, 2010)

This is an interesting book, built around Machiavelli; although in the early part Machiavelli seems to get in the way of the story about the Blair days in power. Indeed, it sounds more like the butler's view of what goes on inside No 10 than a text book on `how to wield power'. The picture however, is entertaining, the garden girls, `switch', the comings and goings of ministers and foreign dignitaries.
The flashes of insight also are fascinating, such as the importance of Blair's Chicago speech of 1999, the role of the PM in the European parliament or the need for Europe to be dealt with by a minister in the cabinet office rather than the FCO and the excellent and illuminating assessment on how to be a bridge between the US and Europe.
The curious use of `we' however, puzzled this reader at first. `We won' might be assumed to refer to Labour, but then `we appointed' or we moved out of Downing St makes it clear that it is a royal we of (the unelected) Powell and the PM.
Some of the best chapters however, are the appraisal of `inquiries', or the muddle over Europe, although one misses a candid analysis of the dominating oppressive presence of the Blair wars. Perhaps the subtext should be `how I hate Gordon Brown' as the latter seems to stray onto most pages in a threatening way.
At the end of the book, one is left with a sense of hiatus - the remarkable (unique?)ten year partnership of PM & chancellor and the reasons behind Blair's loyalty to Brown, are never really addressed.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and Selective 29 April 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having read Great Hatred Little Room I looked forward to reading this book. I was greatly disappointed. The references to Machiavelli are a cover for a selective memoir whose aim seems to be to backstab Gordon Brown, eulogise Tony Blair and settle old scores. He is highly selective and offers no evidence for what is really prejudice an example being "General Dannatt was not up to his job" an assertion made without any facts. In fact most commentators think Dannatt did an excellent job as head of the Army he just didn't agree with the lousy strategic judgements Blair made. He makes startling assertions such as the Coalition Government being a continuation of Blair's policies on schools etc - it could be equally be argued that the later Blair governments merely resurrected Major's policies on schools (city technology colleges as a predecessor of academies) and the internal market in Health. For me the central flaw of the of the book was best exemplified in the last paragraph when he argues that Blair will be seen by history as one of the best Prime Ministers of the last 400 years. After the massive misjudgements and lies surrounding Iraq, the corruption of cash for honours, the personal sleaze of the celebrity holidays etc that claim is simply laughable as sadly is so much of this book.
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47 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 16 Oct 2010
Having read the first couple of chapters, I'm finding this book enjoyable and illuminating. Jonathan Powell applies his experiences, working in the upper echelons of the civil service and then as chief of staff to Tony Blair for ten years, to illustrate the principles set out by Niccolo Machiavelli in the classics 'The Prince' and the Discourses which are still widely read by students of politics today. He makes it clear in the preface that "[This book] is confined to looking at the art of government and at the mechanics of power, not why a leader might want to get hold of power or what they would want to do with it once they get hold of it.. it is important that idealistic and optimistic people who come to office understand the reality of how power can be wielded effectively so they can make the country a better place". But I think it's a worthwhile read for *anyone* who wants to be in a better position to participate in our democracy, since it will allow them to understand better the different factors that influence our political leaders in their decisionmaking. And it has funny bits too - Powell can be quite witty.

The chapters are as follows:

Introduction: In Defence of Machiavelli
1. 'Of New Princedoms Which a Prince Acquires With His Own Arms and by Merit': Coming to Power
2. 'The Prince': Leadership
3. Cabinet, the Civil Service and Making Things Happen
4. The Court
5. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor
6. 'Whether it is better to be loved or feared': Politics and Parliament
7. The Importance of Being Strategic
8. Spin Doctors and Media Moguls
9. Scandals, Inquiries and the Police
10. Europe
11. War and Peace
12. Hubris and Leaving Office
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Effort
Starts off really well, but it is a very patchy book. Gripping one chapter, dull and boring the next. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mr. J. C. Sheppard
4.0 out of 5 stars Newspeak
Poor old McAlpine, we can't help but feel that his days as the subject of internet forum rumours are not over, despite his libel cases against BBC, ITV, Twitterers. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Ben J. Johnson
3.0 out of 5 stars The conflict, the bias & the liar
In Phillip Powell's The New Machiavellian, he does what he vowed he was not going to do; he has attempted to firstly write, and then to rewrite history. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Floyd Millen
1.0 out of 5 stars Sycophantic drivel
Machiavelli must be turning in his grave, being likened to Blair - no substance,lots of bitching, sniping and arrogance, very little on Iraq, Mr Powell, Blair's legacy is that of a... Read more
Published 23 months ago by B. Armstrong
4.0 out of 5 stars Good account of Blair years - but the Machiavelli stuff interferes
Really good account - albeit partial - he's a Tony loyalist to the death - of the Blair years, but though I'm a fan of Machiavelli and studied him at University, and absolutely... Read more
Published on 11 Mar 2012 by Martin Pierce
4.0 out of 5 stars A unique insight
Powell begins his book by stating that it isn't a memoir of his time in the Blair government, but a guide on how to govern which also draws lessons from Machiavelli. Read more
Published on 6 Feb 2012 by T_RRed
3.0 out of 5 stars Better spend your time reading the old Machiavelli
"The Prince" is an excellent book written by a man who should be remembered as wise but has unfortunately had his name co-opted as a synonym for devious. Read more
Published on 11 Dec 2011 by hfffoman
3.0 out of 5 stars High Intelligence
Jonathan Powell is extremely intelligent as this book well confirms. Unfortunately this is all too clever by halves. A simple, straightforward treatment would have served better.
Published on 15 Sep 2011 by Trumpeter
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I read this book straight after reading Tony Blair's book. It is well writen, engaging and offers an excellent study on leadership, with real examples. Read more
Published on 22 July 2011 by Dr. J. S. Grewal
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
it is an excellent book. the prose might not be as tidy and sharp as that of a professional journalist - but it should not be anyway like that. Read more
Published on 2 Mar 2011 by Nicu
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