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on 6 February 2017
The Prince explores the attainment, maintenance, and utilization of political power in the western world. Machiavelli wrote this to demonstrate his skill in the art of the state, presenting advice on how a prince might acquire and hold power. He defended the notion of rule by force rather than by law, he suggests that a prince/king must be violent but too violent as to start a revolt and strong but too strong as to be seen to be unable to take advice. An interesting book given the time in which it was written and how it is, unfortunately, still true and very much practiced in all parts of the world today.
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In case this automatically gets cross posted on this site I should point out that this review is for the kindle version of the Wisehouse Classics edition. I have read this book many times over the years and have just now re-read it once again as it is the next choice for my local book group. Although I do have a lovely hardback version of this I downloaded this particular book when I came across it whilst browsing, as it was on promo. You do have an active table of contents here, the actual book, and then a couple of extras that you don’t always get in versions of this, these are an account of Duke Valentino and his actions, and a piece on the life of Castruccio Castracani of Lucca. There is also a very good introduction here and notes as well, making this a great book to download and keep.

Over the years Machiavelli’s surname has been used as something rather negative, but to be honest it wasn’t always like that, and if you read this and think about it this does not come across. Machiavelli lived in turbulent times, not only just in Italy but throughout Europe, meaning that he had a lot to draw on when writing this short book of political philosophy. He had an acute eye for detail and an understanding of history, so he could see the same mistakes being made time and time again. He also knew human nature, and let’s face it whatever new technologies and ideas we come up with we as such will never change.

We see and hear politicians going on about ideals and what they are going to do for our betterment, but this will always fall short due to reality, and despite this still going on today Machiavelli made no bones in his discourses as he tells us about the real world, real problems and real ways to go about trying to find an answer. Some have argued that this is a satire, but I don’t think so, it is just one man trying to make sense and bring some sort of order to what was going on around him. You don’t have to agree with what is written here, that is the point that I think a lot of people seem to overlook. Like any philosophical work this is meant to make you think and for you to look around you at problems and see what can be done about them.

This book doesn’t skirt around the issue of war, after all we all know at times it is inevitable, and this does tackle that, and other issues. This is still controversial in many ways with what is discussed here, and some people seem to think it is about self-aggrandizing and becoming the top man, but it isn’t. Machiavelli shows us here the problems of being a real statesman and trying to hold a state together as a cohesive whole through the inevitable thick and thin. This personally I always think is a book that should be read by everyone as it gives you a greater understanding of what is going on around you in the world today, and indeed will still be the same in centuries to come.
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on 8 November 2013
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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on 11 April 2017
The Prince is a perceptive, profound and deeply honest representation of the human conditions -- good and bad. The observations, although carried out a few centuries ago, are timeless and somewhat disconcerting. However, the book provides an unparalleled insight into the workings of society and how one could navigate them and leave his/her imprint, so that after the expiration of his/her on this world the memories of that person are indelibly imprinted on the collective memories of those that come after him/her.
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on 12 May 2012
Niccolo Machiavelli's book was written in the mid 16th century; this is a later translation from the 17th century converted into ebook format. There are a couple of issues with the format on the Kindle; some missing page breaks, and some odd sentence breaks. The ebook version also includes a couple of additional items written by Machiavelli later in his life.

"The Prince" of the title is merely a generic label for a leader, rather than a given level of nobility. The main book is a study of the concept of leadership, and particularly the application of politics within a nation or state. It is based upon a very careful study of the leaders of the time, especially within Italy and from the classical period of Greece and Rome. Although written some 500 years ago, most of the precepts can be seen to have been relevant throughout the intervening period and in many ways are still pertinent today.

In fact some of the material could equally be applied within large organisations; examine the biographies of some of the most famous business leaders and entrepeneurs, and you will see many of the factors that enabled them to rise up being the same that Machiavelli identified as being desirable in a great leader. It does perhaps portray a certain level of cynicism and certainly indicates the ruthlessness that is required to become a political figure; and it is this that has made the name of Machiavelli synonymous with political intrigue.

In many ways, this book is to political governance, what Sun-Tzu's "Art of War" was to the concept of military leadership. Careful study will reveal a lot of valuable advice and information; and although not the easiest book to read, the end result is well worth the effort.
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on 5 January 2014
Although this book was written at the time of the Tudors, its message remains the same to day, that is if you have no moral conscience whatsoever. Be utterly selfish , lie, double cross and always kick a man when he is down. Remember the end, by any dirty means whatsoever, justifies the means. No politician can succeed unless he takes on board Machiavelli's advice on statesmanship. Power is what it is all about, and keeping that power means that you have to be more ruthless than any one else to keep that power. Always use sweet words and keep a smile on your face, as you stick your knife into your enemy's, friend's, or relative's back. Never lose sight of the fact that once in a moment of aberration, you did somebody a good turn; they will inevitably feel beholden to you and will resent it, so eliminate them before they take their revenge.

A handbook for dictators and unscrupulous people in all walks of life.
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on 15 January 2013
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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on 7 January 2016
I read this book because so many other people have praised it, and because so many other writers refer to it. I wasn't as impressed as I expected to be, because I had higher expectations. Yes, it was a controversial work once, and it's influence is so profound, you could hardly ignore it. I'd love to say it widened my horizons and deepened my understanding, but as it was, I got through it and said to myself "Well, at least I can say I have read it now."

PS - His History of Florence on the other hand was a real eye-opener!
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on 28 May 2017
A present for my son. He's nearly 17 and it's his initiation into the contrived and stinking rotten world of politics. If this book is good enough for world leaders, it's good enough for the rest of us. I highly recommend it.
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on 22 October 2016
Niccolo Machiavelli is the guy people refer too when they say that some one is "Machiavellian" which is to say incredibly ruthless. This came about mainly because of this book the Prince which is based on the advice Machiavelli gave to his king. A powerful book to dip into when you want to see things ruthlessly and objectively.
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