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16 of 16 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 23 months ago by Keith

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars a must read
Any one interested in politics has to read this. In Nick's day it was acceptable to liquidate rivals. Not quite sure how this applies today. Perhaps Nick was not quite as bad as we think as he himself was tortured when he fell out of political favour.
Published 20 days ago by Joan Grant


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16 of 16 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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Prince, 22 Jun 2009
By 
D. E. Turner (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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120 of 131 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The virtues of Machiavelli, 3 Feb 2005
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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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32 of 37 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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20 of 24 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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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
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bible for the Power-Hungry, 8 Nov 2013
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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 Interesting machinations, 8 April 2013
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This review is from: The Prince (Penguin Great Ideas) (Kindle Edition)
This is a wonderful edition of Machiavelli's classic, The Prince. The translation remains very faithful to the original Italian, without being slavishly bound by antiquated language. Well worth the money.
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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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1 of 1 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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