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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lively and modern translation of Machiavelli
I chose this version of The Prince because it was translated by Tim Parks, an author whose books I've read. Originally from England, he has lived in Italy for the last 20 years. He's produced a lively and modern translation - here's a sample, from the chapter on A Ruler and His Promises; "But you have to know how to disguise your slyness, how to pretend one thing and...
Published on 6 Aug. 2012 by Keith

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars as described
Was ok. Not much to it. Handy to read now and then in bits rather than all at once. Heavy going.
Published 15 months ago by Mr Hypercritical


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lively and modern translation of Machiavelli, 6 Aug. 2012
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I chose this version of The Prince because it was translated by Tim Parks, an author whose books I've read. Originally from England, he has lived in Italy for the last 20 years. He's produced a lively and modern translation - here's a sample, from the chapter on A Ruler and His Promises; "But you have to know how to disguise your slyness, how to pretend one thing and cover up another. People are so gullible and so caught up with immediate concerns that a con man will always find someone ready to be conned".

The translator explains why he translated The Prince in this style. He also gives a good background to the political situation in early 16th century Italy, when Machiavelli was writing.

The Prince includes references to politicians and statesmen during that era, so there's a brief history of their lives at the back of the book.

What struck me was that although sometimes Machiavelli has a manipulative approach to statemanship, in general his advice is full of insight. In other words, Machiavelli is less Machiavellian than I expected.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous, 27 Feb. 2006
With ‘The Prince’, Niccoló Machiavelli expertly constructs a framework for the optimal way to control a princedom. Making use of historical and contempory (to Machiavelli) examples, he explores every aspect of the successful running of a principality from keeping your citizens happy, to warring with other nations.
Originally written for Lorenzo dé Medici, it is a work of strategic art, much focused on by modern military men and businessmen alike. Although around five hundred years old, it is not hard to see the relevance of ‘The Prince’ in today’s society.
Through historical examples Machiavelli points out mistakes made by other princes that have resulted in the loss of their power while also citing acts which have won princes great power. This knowledge, from someone well able to analyse the causes of the events opens up a new insight into the world of the pre-sixteenth century rulers and the problems that faced their rule.
The Penguin Great Ideas edition of this classic text is excellently presented, especially for people who want to study the text alone. It is often discouraging, when reading other texts, to find more notes than actual primary text but the Great Ideas edition cuts all those pesky notes out. What this means it that the reader is presented with a neat, short copy of the text for a much-reduced price.
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More often cited than read, 28 Nov. 2002
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
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No one can doubt the lasting significance of The Prince, for it is frequently cited in discussions of modern political theory. The work has been often criticized as malevolent, while its original form has been examined less than closely. Such being the case, Machiavelli's intentions are easily misread. His goal was in fact to offer a practical, realistic guide to governing; it is a sad irony that these pragmatic goals have become something philosophically ethereal in the hands of many critics.
The Prince draws from the past and is at the same time applicable to the future. The author was a statesman of moderate capacity as well as member of the social body, a link between the ruler and the ruled. He was driven by a realism that forsook Platonic ideals of justice and virtue, in favor of efficiency, military strength, and power. For Machiavelli, the ends always justified the means. The state's perpetuity was the sole goal to be sought by the ruler. While it is true that Machiavelli voiced a disdain for men, he did not call for their enslavement or complete subordination to the ruler; in fact, he felt that what was best for the state was best for the people.
One must bear in mind the time in which Machiavelli wrote, which was a time of great upheaval in the Italian states. This lack of stability certainly contributed to the author's commitment to strong, lasting government. Nowhere does he condemn democracy nor worship autocracy; in fact, he clearly implies that the particular conditions of any polity best determine the most fitting type of government. He warns the ruler of dangers both from within and without, and recommends in all matters strength of position. When he counsels that virtues, when excessive, can weaken the state, he does not endorse tyranny.
One finds simplicity alongside complexity in this book. Just as he encourages efficiency in the ruler, Machiavelli writes directly, never indulging in philosophical digressions. He defines the state and how it comes to be, as well as the manners by which a prince accedes to power. He then shifts to the practice of warfare, the most important activity of a state, complemented with advice on maintaining internal stability. Finally, he speaks of Italy's present troubles, making clear that it is his ambition in writing this work to return stability to his homeland and protect its future from chaotic affairs.
The Prince is a pioneering work of political science. It is distinguished by Machiavelli's employment of history as a source of applicable knowledge. Machiavelli had no idealistic goals in mind when he wrote The Prince. He was successful in that, although controversial and often misinterpreted, his guide is still a source for knowledge as well as action.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Half historical, half relevant more than a prince of books., 12 April 2003
The prince is one of those books you must read if you have any interest in political motivation of any period. The book set in historic Italy gives Machiavelli's political thoughts on how a prince should conduct him self in political manors such as the military, alliances and the treatment of his citizens. Machiavelli also puts in a chapter on the age old question is it better to be lover of feared (I wont spoil the answer here) In one sense the book is much more relevant to the historian on such maters as the military and treatment of the peasants after all its not often we are confronted whether to hire mercenaries of use the state militia but these points are still very interesting in context. But the book also has lots of points that are relevant today such as Machiavelli's very realist or cynical (that's up to you) methods of gaining and maintaining power. This is a great book if you are interested in political motives and like to look at this in a historical context. The book is also fairly short and readable so if you are new to reading the books you were told "everyone must read" then this is a good starting place (It was for me anyway)
A lot of relevance to be gleamed from history, readable and perhaps will change a few views on life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Even parents can learn from Macchiavelli . . ., 8 Oct. 2012
By 
Peasant (Deepest England) - See all my reviews
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Who will gain from reading this book? Almost anyone. It isn't necessary to be amoral, callous or ruthless to learn from "The Prince". I know a very nice man who, after reading it, helped manage a potentially miserable takeover of one company by another without strife, unpleasantness or loss of production. No-one was assassinated, and everyone thought he was wonderful. Happiness all round. Can't be bad, eh? In fact, even parents can learn a lot about managing their kids. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't benefit from reading it. The book is slim, the chapters are short and pithy, the language direct and easily understood.

The reputation of this book, and its author, goes before it; "Machiavellian" has become an adjective for behaviour which is calculated, duplicitous and self-serving. Anyone reading this book with an open mind will realise poor Niccolo has been maligned; he deals honestly with the reality of human psychology and power: he does not recommend villainy - but, unlike some of his contemporaries, he realises that a naive adherence to the Christian virtues, though often extolled, has little part to play in success in real life.

So, while other writers urged their princely audiences to behave like Edward the Confessor, Macchiavelli talks directly to the ruling elite of the principalities of Renaissance Italy in language they can fully appreciate. Macchiavelli's approach is not that of the Mafioso or the sub-Saharan/banana republic dictator; his arguments hold true, however, for any society where power is concentrated in a few hands, but where there are constraints on acceptable behaviour. His milieu is unlike the lumbering masses of modern states, but very like the top ranks of the modern business and financial worlds, or the struggle for influence within political parties. It is here that his ideas have become popular today.

Key chapters for the modern world are are 7; "New Princedoms gained with other men's forces and through fortune", 9; "The Civil Princedom", 16; "Liberality and stinginess", 17; "Is it better to be loved than feared, or the reverse", 18: "How princes should keep their promises", 22; "A Prince's confidential officers"
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5.0 out of 5 stars From the Borgias to Berlusconi, 15 Jan. 2013
By 
Neasa MacErlean (UK) - See all my reviews
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This fascinating, elegant book was based on a terrible time for Italy when the Borgias ruled the Vatican, blood engulfed the peninsula and Leonardo was managing to keep out of trouble and was painting the Last Supper. Machiavelli deeply admired the rampaging Cesare Borgia and describes him as "a man of great courage and high intentions, and he could not have conducted himself other than the way he did". Five hundred years later, Italy still reels under factionalism and mistrust and Silvio Berlusconi would be described by some in the same terms that Machiavelli used for the ruthless Borgia. To admire such people, Machiavelli was realistic rather than amoral. As he says, "the fact is that a man who wants to act virtuously in every way necessarily comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous". He is telling us that we are naive if we think we leave ourselves open to other people. Being kind and generous, he explains, can get you into big trouble (and five hundred years ago that could mean ending up dead). As he says: "one can be hated just as much for good deeds as for evil ones". Recently tortured and imprisoned himself, Machiavelli knew the risks that he was writing about. But despite all that he writes in a chipper tone. As has been said before, The Prince could serve as a guide to modern office politics as well as being a survival guide in blood-thirsty times.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The virtues of Machiavelli, 27 Dec. 2005
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
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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.
Machiavelli has a great admiration for the possible and potential, but finds himself inexorably drawn to the practical, dealing with situations as they are, thus becoming an early champion of realpolitik carried forward into this century by the likes of Kissinger, Thatcher, Nixon, and countless others. One of the innovations of Machiavelli's thought was the recognition that the prince, the leader of the city/state/empire/etc., was nonetheless a human being, and subject to all the human limitations and desires with which all contend.
Because the average prince (like the average person) is likely to be focussed upon his own interests, a prince's private interests are generally in opposition to those of his subjects. Fortunate is the kingdom ruled by a virtuous prince, virtue here not defined by Christian or religious tenets, but rather the civic virtue of being able to pursue his own interests without conflicting those of his subjects.
Virtue is that which increases power; vice is that which decreases power. These follow Machiavelli's assumptions about human nature. Machiavelli rejected the Platonic idea of a division between what a prince does and what a prince ought to do. The two principle instruments of the prince are force and propaganda, and the prince, in order to increase power (virtue) ought to employ force completely and ruthlessly, and propaganda wisely, backed up by force. Of course, for Machiavelli, the chief propaganda vehicle is that of religion.
Whoever reads Roman history attentively will see in how great a degree religion served in the command of the armies, in uniting the people and keeping them well conducted, and in covering the wicked with shame.
Machiavelli has been credited with giving ruthless strategies (the example of a new political ruler killing the deposed ruler and the ruler's family to prevent usurpation and plotting is well known) -- it is hard to enact many in current politics in a literal way, but many of his strategies can still be seen in electioneering at every level, in national and international relations, and even in corporate and family internal 'politics'. In fact, I have found fewer more Machiavellian types than in church politics!
Of course, these people would be considered 'virtuous' in Machiavellian terms -- doing what is necessary to increase power and authority.
The title of this piece -- the virtues of Machiavelli, must be considered in this frame; certainly in no way virtuous by current standards, but then, it shows, not all have the same standards. Be careful of the words you use -- they may have differing definitions.
Perhaps if Machiavelli had lived a bit later, and been informed by the general rise of science as a rational underpinning to the world, he might have been able to accept less of a degree of randomness in the universe. Perhaps he would have modified his views. Perhaps not -- after all, the realpolitikers of this age are aware of the scientific framework of the universe, and still pursue their courses.
This is an important work, intriguing in many respects. Far shorter than the average classical or medieval philosophical tome, and more accessible by current readers because of a greater familiarity with politics than, say, metaphysics or epistemology, this work yields benefits and insights to all who read, mark, inwardly digest, and critically examine the precepts.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Political analysis - or clever satire?, 23 Oct. 2011
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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The Prince is Machiavelli's analysis of how a prince can win and maintain power within the volatile political world of sixteenth century Europe. By focusing on what he has observed, the empirical rather than the ideal of, for example, Plato's The Republic, and by eschewing Christian virtues for political expediency he shocked his original readers, giving rise to the term Machiavellian as used by so many of Shakespeare's cunning villains such as Richard III.

But scholars still debate whether Machiavelli is quite as disingenuous as he appears, or whether this is slick and clever satire. George Bull's translation for Penguin is clear enough to allow us to make up our own minds on this point.

Above all, Machiavelli reveals acute assumptions about human nature at this historical point in time, ideas which are, for example, very different from those of Plato writing 2000 years earlier. I'm not sure about reading this as a modern 'management handbook' as advocated by some other reviewers here - but it is a surprisingly intelligent, lively and interesting book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and much maligned book, 23 Aug. 2013
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Niccolo Machiavelli's name has come to represent cunning and guile of the most invidious nature. In fact, his advice in this book should be read by anyone in any political station of life. In the words of Tim Parks, the excellent translator, 'It tells how to win power and above all, how to hold onto it, how not to be a victim of circumstance.' There are no sentimental, politically correct concepts here. Everything is completely pragmatic. The chapter headings include 'Avoiding contempt and hatred', 'What a ruler should do to win respect', 'Cruelty and compassion', 'Whether it is better to be feared or loved'. Of course it was written in the days when one became a leader by force, and as Tim Parks reveals in his fascinating introduction, what we now know as 'Italy', was, in the 15th century, a large number of states constantly at war with each other. Machiavelli's world was 'sometimes unspeakably cruel … once established in a position of power a ruler may have no choice but to kill or be killed.' This is not a world we would wish to inhabit today, but it is so refreshing to read: "A Ruler mustn't worry about being labelled cruel when it's a question of keeping his subjects loyal and united; using a little exemplary severity, he will prove more compassionate than the leader whose excessive compassion leads to public disorder, muggings and murder. That kind of trouble tends to harm everyone …' I recommend this book, and this particular translation, to anyone who is fed up with our hypocritical, duplicitous political governments, today.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Political analysis - or clever satire?, 7 Oct. 2011
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
The Prince is Machiavelli's analysis of how a prince can win and maintain power within the volatile political world of sixteenth century Europe. By focusing on what he has observed, the empirical rather than the ideal of, for example, Plato's The Republic, and by eschewing Christian virtues for political expediency he shocked his original readers, giving rise to the term Machiavellian as used by so many of Shakespeare's cunning villains such as Richard III.

But scholars still debate whether Machiavelli is quite as disingenuous as he appears, or whether this is slick and clever satire. George Bull's translation for Penguin is clear enough to allow us to make up our own minds on this point.

Above all, Machiavelli reveals acute assumptions about human nature at this historical point in time, ideas which are, for example, very different from those of Plato writing 2000 years earlier. I'm not sure about reading this as a modern 'management handbook' as advocated by some other reviewers here - but it is a surprisingly intelligent, lively and interesting book.
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The Prince (Classics)
The Prince (Classics) by Niccolo Machiavelli (Mass Market Paperback - 29 Jan. 1970)
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