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The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
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The Prince (1513)

by Niccolò Machiavelli

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
15,925130111 (3.72)238
  1. 121
    Utopia by Thomas More (2below)
    2below: Each one is fascinating in its own right but I think reading both (or reading them concurrently, as I did) provides an interesting perspective on two seemingly opposed extremes.
  2. 41
    Maxims and Reflections (Ricordi) by Francesco Guicciardini (timoroso)
    timoroso: Guicciardini, a friend and colleague of Machiavelli, wrote a book of maxims sometimes profound in themselves, other times interesting to compare to Machiavelli's opinions. The subject matter for both is essentially the same: how to act in a politically and ethically thoroughly unstable world.… (more)
  3. 53
    The Republic by Plato (caflores)
  4. 21
    On the Nature of War by Carl von Clausewitz (sirparsifal)
  5. 03
    The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie (Othemts)
  6. 115
    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (Ciruelo, Othemts)
    Ciruelo: Really. Both are classic studies in the workings of power.
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English (108)  Spanish (6)  French (5)  Italian (3)  Finnish (2)  Danish (2)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (130)
Showing 1-5 of 108 (next | show all)
I should have read this book (free for Kindle) years ago. Machiavelli's works on ancient history came up frequently in a different book I read recently, and he has been cited in several other books on my lists. Alas, I've now read this work. I find some of the oft-cited passages I hear are somewhat taken out of context.

The version I read had a brief biographical sketch of Machiavelli, which was helpful. Machiavelli is foremost a historian, so he cites examples of rulers and conflicts both from Florentine and Italian history, the current Ottoman state, Greco-Roman history, and the Bible.

He starts by looking at the failures of statecraft-- how a monarch can lose a state which he has conquered or inherited. Louis XII was one such object of failure in his aims on Italian provinces. He talks of how one holds a free Republic, you either have to destroy it or make it a tributary while encouraging development of an oligarchy there to maintain defacto control. This seems like it's played out accurately in world history.

Machiavelli's "it's better to be feared than loved" is in the context of a Prince who takes a territory who was originally not his own. There will likely be unrest, so the advice is to do some large act of cruel suppression up front to quell dissent and then do small acts of benevolence over time to keep the populace pacified. If a ruler drags out the cruelty, he will breed hatred which is the ultimate failure of a monarch. The ruler must appear to be capable of both cruelty and mercy, so that he appeals more broadly, and where possible he should have an underling be the "bad cop" enforcer. It'd be best to be both feared and loved, but you will always have to give one of those up and it's best to give up love. The great projects of history, according to Machiavelli, were done by rulers who were remembered to be mean and not kind.

It's always a bad idea to rely on foreign mercenaries for your army. Machiavelli marks the decline of Rome with the hiring of Goths to do soldiering at the cost of the Roman army. France was making the same mistake in relying on Swiss mercenaries at the time of his writing. Building fortresses are of no defense when the people hate you.

A ruler has to be "liberal" in his spending. Games and welfare for the people, benefits for the standing army. This is obviously hard to do unless you're conquering and expropriating-- otherwise you bankrupt your treasury. The Prince gains glory and reputation by accomplishing big tasks-- namely conquering territories and enriching the kingdom.

The Prince should also seem to be a man of integrity. The great rulers abandon virtue when they have to-- sometimes they have to break their word in order to protect their position or the state. This is acceptable so long as not done in such a away that the people despise him. The prince should be virtuous but also know how and when to get his hands dirty.

A Prince should have a few advisors that he listens to and that he rewards for speaking honestly and openly; he should ignore all other opinion. The Prince should always make sure his advisors and viceroys know that their positions-- their wealth, authority, and very lives-- are at the whim of the Prince so that they don't go seeking their own gain or become corrupt.

A Prince is someone who believes he has the power to shape world events, that everything isn't left to "fortune" or random chance forces of history. He yields that authority and has other men follow him.

I enjoyed this book, it's obviously a 5 star classic. ( )
  justindtapp | Jun 3, 2015 |
Bombastic at times, though quite entertaining. Still not sure when Tupac is coming back. ( )
  trilliams | May 30, 2015 |
This was mediocre and boring. I was expecting great insight and all I got was my time wasted. ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
Niccolo Machiavelli may represent the epitome of a politician born in the wrong age. Nowadays anyone as politically astute and accomplished as Machiavelli undoubtedly was would make sure that they had a slick PR team in place, ready to put a positive spin on their every utterance. Even then, things can come adrift. In recent years even as experienced a political operator as Peter, now Lord, Mandleson, New Labour spin doctor extraordinaire, though having a whole team of press consultants and PR men at his behest, found his ceaseless machinations earned him a reputation for duplicity and divisiveness, rendering him a hissing and a byword within his own party, let alone among his Conservative opponents. Yet even Lord Mandelson didn't suffer the vilification and revulsion that have attached themselves to Machiavelli over the last six centuries.

The very word 'machiavellian' carries with it a heavy semantic weighting, with connotations of intricate and decidedly underhand plotting; shameful manoeuvres best left in the shadows, hidden from view. There is even a solid body of belief that ascribes the origin of the Devil's cognomen 'Old Nick' as a reference to Machiavelli's practice of the dark arts of political persuasion, and to this work in particular.

Florence in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries may have been at the centre of the Renaissance, but it was also a hub of political and military activity. Machiavelli had held public office during the brief history of the Republic of Florence before the Medici dynasty reasserted itself. As so often befalls senior in times of violent regime change, Machiavelli found himself imprisoned and even tortured in 1512. It was in the years shortly after this that he wrote this work, an observation on the practical application of political rule. He is careful not to become bogged down in moral considerations. He is, instead, principally concerned with the establishment of a strong administration that can defend and maintain its borders and protect its people. The implication is that if military security can be established, the populace will benefit in the long run. His advice is, therefore, essentially dispassionate. He has studied politics in action during disturbed time, and synthesis his experience into a handbook for the ambitious ruler.

He was clearly a scholar and shows great familiarity with the classics. His chapter on the impact of ruler who achieve their position as a consequence of crime is a distillation of Herodotus's life of Agathocles of Syracuse. Born the son of a potter, Agathocles combined courage and ambition with criminal intent, allying himself with the Carthaginians to establish himself as King of the Syracuse throne. Having stolen the throne, he established himself as a pragmatic and successful leader who protected his realm and people, and this reigned for several years in relative stability.

His taste for pragmatism does occasionally lead him into blunt and even reckless assertions. Comments of the nature of, 'I say it would be splendid if one had a reputation for generosity; nonetheless, if you do earn a reputation for generosity then you will come to grief' can never constitute a popular manifesto!

In the end, the question of whether he was evil and manipulative, or merely pragmatic, is really somewhat irrelevant. His book has survived for centuries, and offers a fascinating observation of the political life in a turbulent city state, caught between the Scylla of impending military intervention by the French and the Charybdys of an omnipresent Church that dominated everyday life.

The translation that I read (which I bought more than thirty years ago while still at school) was that by George Bull, published by the Penguin Classics series in 1961, and it did seem rather dated in parts. The introduction offered lots of fascinating information about Machiavelli's life and the prevailing context against which he wrote, though I have seldom seen a scholarly tract that was so poorly written. Bull obviously poured all his efforts into the translation and just dashed the introduction off against a too tight deadline! ( )
  Eyejaybee | Mar 26, 2015 |
Dudo que haya político exitoso alguno (en la antiguedad tanto como en la actualidad) que, ha sabiendas o no, haya dejado de seguir las suegerencias que Machiavelli da en este libro. Pero más allá de la política, El Príncipe describe la realidad como es, y cómo hay que ser para alcanzar el éxito en cualquier ámbito. Por tanto debe ser leído por todo aquél que desee éxito en alguna meta que se haya propuesto. Eso sí, debo advertir que las sugerencias que da Machiavelli involucran mentir, engañar y matar. No se le discute que es la manera más efectiva y rápida de obtener lo deseado. Los comentarios de Napoleón Bonaparte sirven para reafirmar las teorías de Machiavelli y realzar la inmoralidad necesaria para ser un buen político. ( )
  JorgeCarvajal | Feb 13, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 108 (next | show all)
Kad je reč o umešnosti vladanja, ovo nezaobilazno delo bilo je i ostalo neprevaziđeno. Postalo je pojam!

Delo nastalo na velikom raskršću istorije, kada se odlučno odbacuje srednjovekovno metafizičko učenje i usvajaju empirički metodi razmišljanja, predstavlja ujedno fascinantno svedočanstvo razlaza između mita i realnosti, između vere i sumnje. Ovaj biser renesansne političke misli karakteriše realistično posmatranje političkih događaja i visoke moralne pobude koje su inspirisale autora. Vladalac je samo prividno apoteoza tiranina i kodeks pravila za ubijanje, čitav traktat o vladaocu svodi se na to da se u Italiji pronađe čovek koji će je ujediniti. Život i delo ovog poznatog firentinca obeležavaju kao teoretičara o osnivanju i održavanju država.
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» Add other authors (111 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Machiavelli, Niccolòprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aron, RaymondForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bondanella, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bull, George AnthonyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Constantine, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cullen, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ennis, MichaelForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freyer, HansIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gauss, ChristianIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gohory, JacquesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Inglese, GiorgioEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mansfield, Harvey C.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mansfield, Harvey C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marriott, W. K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merian-Genast, ErnstTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Musa, MarkTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Otten, J.F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rieu, E. V.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Skinner, QuentinEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
TitianCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
Niccolo Machiavelli to Lorenzo the Magnificent, Son of Piero di Medici
First words
All the states, all the dominions under whose authority men have lived in the past and live now have been and are either republics or principalities.
It is customary for those who wish to gain the favour of a prince to endeavour to do so by offering him gifts of those things which they hold most precious, or in which they know him to take especial delight.
Quotations
He who blinded by ambition, raises himself to a position whence he cannot mount higher, must thereafter fall with the greatest loss.
If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.
War cannot be avoided; it can only be postponed to the other's advantage.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the main work for The Prince. It should not be combined with any abridgement, adaptation, study guide, etc.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553212788, Mass Market Paperback)

When Lorenzo de' Medici seized control of the Florentine Republic in 1512, he summarily fired the Secretary to the Second Chancery of the Signoria and set in motion a fundamental change in the way we think about politics. The person who held the aforementioned office with the tongue-twisting title was none other than Niccolò Machiavelli, who, suddenly finding himself out of a job after 14 years of patriotic service, followed the career trajectory of many modern politicians into punditry. Unable to become an on-air political analyst for a television network, he only wrote a book. But what a book The Prince is. Its essential contribution to modern political thought lies in Machiavelli's assertion of the then revolutionary idea that theological and moral imperatives have no place in the political arena. "It must be understood," Machiavelli avers, "that a prince ... cannot observe all of those virtues for which men are reputed good, because it is often necessary to act against mercy, against faith, against humanity, against frankness, against religion, in order to preserve the state." With just a little imagination, readers can discern parallels between a 16th-century principality and a 20th-century presidency. --Tim Hogan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:30 -0400)

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Contents: The prince -- Discourses upon the first ten books of Titus Lily -- Chronology -- Notes to The Prince -- Notes to the discourses.

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