The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli

The Prince

THE PRINCE was written by Niccolo' Machiavelli in the 1500s. It has continued to be a best seller in many languages. Presently, it is translated into modern English, with illustrations by Benjamin Martinez and an Introduction by Adolph Cso.The Prince is a classic book that explores the attainment, maintenance, and utilization of political power in the western world. Machia...

Title:The Prince
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0937832383
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:140 pages

The Prince Reviews

  • Stephen

    That single statement boys and girls is the

    at the

    resting at the

    of

    world-changing classic on the defining use of

    in governance and foreign policy. Despite popular perception, Machiavelli, whose name has often been used as a synonym for

    , was not arguing that it’s better to be immoral, cruel and evil than to be moral, just and good. Rather, Machiavelli was demonstrating, through reasoned analysis based on

    That single statement boys and girls is the

    at the

    resting at the

    of

    world-changing classic on the defining use of

    in governance and foreign policy. Despite popular perception, Machiavelli, whose name has often been used as a synonym for

    , was not arguing that it’s better to be immoral, cruel and evil than to be moral, just and good. Rather, Machiavelli was demonstrating, through reasoned analysis based on numerous historical examples, that the most effective way to govern a population is through decision-making based on the current situation without muddying up the waters with considerations of morality.

    that's amoral!! Uh...yes, by definition it is.

    However, Machiavelli, in his famous use of end justifying means, supports the rightness of his position by citing numerous examples of “princes” who, in acting "all just and proper like” in relation to their neighbors and subjects, led their people right into the waiting arms of bondage and slaughter at the hands of those who were less vituous in their thinking. Should such murdered and subjugated populations thank the princes for their unwaivering morality? Machiavelli says

    . He argues that the Prince’s #1 priority is to safeguard his holdings and maintain stability within his borders. Allowing other considerations to affect such judgements will only provide an advantage to third parties who will exploit it. In the end, Machiavelli argues, fewer lives will be lost and less suffering incurred by the Prince who can govern EFFECTIVELY.

    Not necessarily warm and fuzzy Sesame Street thinking, but there is some serious power to the reasoning. I wish we lived in a world in which that was not the case. I wish Machiavelli’s insights were not needed and that we lived in a world where loftier morals could carry the day. However, until we do, Machiavelli’s words provide much ringing truth and thought food.

    I don’t want to sound like a book report so let me just summarize briefly how the book is laid out.

    Machiavelli wrote The Prince for Lorenzo de Medici, whose family ruled Florence at the time, as basically a job application. He wanted to get in good with the de Medici family secure a place at their court. The book, while jumping around a bit, can be divided into 3 or 4 sections, the last really being a summarizing “call to arms” to the Italian people that they need a wise prince to lead them back to the greatness of the Roman Empire.

    Discounting the

    at the end, the other 3 sections deal with (1) the kinds of principalities and how they are acquired; (2) the proper organization of the military and the best kind of solider to comprise it; and (3) the internal make up of a princes court (i.e., associates and subordinates).

    is interesting and fun to read, but basically worthless for anything other than historical perspective. Machiavelli discusses territories won be conquest, inheritance or luck and talks about the various characteristics of each. While not exactly "awe-inspiring" in its perception, the narrative itself is interesting and Machiavelli’s “voice” is engaging.

    can be summarized as follows: Mercenaries well and truly

    and should not be used under any circumstances because their suckage will end up squandering your resources and giving squat in return. Therefore, the wise Prince keeps a standing army sufficient to protect the country’s interests.

    is the real meat of the work and contains the bulk of the advice that garnered Niccolo his much deserved reputation for suggesting the propriety of abandoning morality in governance. He speaks of the need of the Prince to be able to deceive and act against the "five" virtues of the righteous man when necessary for the betterment of his state and his people.

    Machiavelli discusses numerous examples of sovereigns who either benefitted from following such advice or, conversely, who suffered calamity for adhering to a sense of virtue.

    Ground-breaking and brilliantly insightful, especially for its time. So much of what Machiavelli says is now an ingrained part of political thinking that it comes across as

    when you read it. However, it was Niccolo who first put forth these concepts that have become the dogma and foundation of modern political thought. He put the “real” in realpolitk. I don’t think the contribution he made to political theory can be overstated. It was

    that called out the distinction between what men “say” and what they “do.” He did not invent political immorality, but he did recognize it as an effective, and at time crucial, aspect of rule. Something the famous rulers of history have always known…and practiced.

    In addition, I was surprised at how much fun the book was to read. Machiavelli includes dozens and dozens of brief vignettes about world history in supporting his ideas and does a great job keeping the reader engaged with colorful descriptions of past events. The book is also chalk-full of wonderful quotes that just jumped out at me as I was reading. Here are a few that I thought were intriguing:

    In addition to post-revolutionary purges and new government administrations, the above has also become a truism for business and is why corporations do “massive layoffs” rather than a series of smaller scale terminations. Gee, thanks Niccolo.

    Ah...just like the Godfather.

    Oh…and lest the above not make it clear, for all his amazing contributions to world-history we should not lose sight of the fact that Machiavelli, for all his astuteness, was a bit of an asshole. While his work is engaging and wonderful reading and I give him full marks for “calling it like it is,” he is still not the kind of guy you want educating your children or providing life lessons. I admire his work, but the man comes across as quite a scummy, conniving douche.

    You know, like a modern politician.

    5.0 Stars. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!

  • Alex

    I'm weirdly pleased that The Prince lives up to its reputation: it is indeed Machiavellian. Here's his advice on conquering self-governing states (i.e. democracies): "The only way to hold on to such a state is to reduce it to rubble." Well then.

    I'd like to say that any guy whose last name becomes a synonym for evil is a badass, but Machiavelli wasn't; he was a failed minor diplomat who wrote this in a failed attempt to get reemployed. Stupid attempt, too; anyone who hired him would be advertisin

    I'm weirdly pleased that The Prince lives up to its reputation: it is indeed Machiavellian. Here's his advice on conquering self-governing states (i.e. democracies): "The only way to hold on to such a state is to reduce it to rubble." Well then.

    I'd like to say that any guy whose last name becomes a synonym for evil is a badass, but Machiavelli wasn't; he was a failed minor diplomat who wrote this in a failed attempt to get reemployed. Stupid attempt, too; anyone who hired him would be advertising that he espoused Machiavellian values. This book was published, after all. And as he himself advises, "A leader doesn't have to possess virtuous qualities, but it's imperative that he seem to possess them."

    So I'll go with this: anyone whose last name becomes a synonym for evil has written a good book.

    I hope to match that effect with my first novel. Working title: "Unicorns are Pretty."

    So if Machiavelli was such a loser, how did his book get so famous? It's not because it's great advice; it sortof isn't. I think it's because it's just a ton of fun to read. It's chock full of over-the-top quotes like the ones above. It's really

    Which brings up a recurring topic for debate: did he intend for this to be taken seriously, or is it satire? I think it's the former: mixed in with the zany stuff is a fair amount of common-sense advice. He could certainly have included that to make the zany stuff pop more, or to camouflage it a bit, but I prefer to think he meant the whole thing seriously. And it's not like any of it is advice someone hasn't followed at some point. (See my first quote above: yeah, we've tried that.)

    Translation review: this is the very latest translation. Parks has gone to great trouble to reduce the crazy complexity of Machiavelli's sentences - I know this from reading his excellent Translator's Note - and I appreciate that. He's also tried hard to make it accessible to modern audiences, and sometimes I think he's tipped a tiny bit overboard on that front. "When a ruler occupies a land that has a different language...then things get rough." "Difficult" would have been perfectly clear; "rough" is too colloquial. We want to be able to read our classics, but we don't need to pretend they were written yesterday.

    That's a relatively minor complaint, though; this is a clear and easy translation. Good intro, too. And a glossary of proper names at the back, so you can sort out the various contemporary figures you don't recognize.

    I'll close with my favorite quote: "It's better to be impulsive than cautious; fortune is female and if you want to stay on top of her you have to slap and thrust."

    Machiavelli: kindof a dick.

  • Hossam Sadik

    لا خلاف علي أن الكتاب صادم للغاية، عبر فيه ميكيافيللي عن أراء وأفكار سياسية تتعارض مع الكثير من المبادئ والأخلاق، نبعت فيه مواقفة من قاعدة هو من أرسى مبادئها "الغاية تبرر الوسيلة"، حيث كل شئ مباح للحكام والأمراء سعياً وراء ما أتفقت عليه رغبات البشر من نجاح وسيطرة وحكم، ففي سبيل ذلك يحق للحاكم أن يكذب وينقض عهده وينافق ويمكر لشعبه وينقلب علي من مد له يد العون وأن يغش ويخدع، ويصبح كل ذلك محمود بل ولا غني عنه للوصول للحكم والنجاح فيه.

    شخصياً،أفترضت خطأ أفكاره بحجة أن حكام أمثال عمر بن الخطاب وعمر بن

    لا خلاف علي أن الكتاب صادم للغاية، عبر فيه ميكيافيللي عن أراء وأفكار سياسية تتعارض مع الكثير من المبادئ والأخلاق، نبعت فيه مواقفة من قاعدة هو من أرسى مبادئها "الغاية تبرر الوسيلة"، حيث كل شئ مباح للحكام والأمراء سعياً وراء ما أتفقت عليه رغبات البشر من نجاح وسيطرة وحكم، ففي سبيل ذلك يحق للحاكم أن يكذب وينقض عهده وينافق ويمكر لشعبه وينقلب علي من مد له يد العون وأن يغش ويخدع، ويصبح كل ذلك محمود بل ولا غني عنه للوصول للحكم والنجاح فيه.

    شخصياً،أفترضت خطأ أفكاره بحجة أن حكام أمثال عمر بن الخطاب وعمر بن عبد العزيز وصلاح الدين الأيوبي وسيف الدين قطز وغيرهم ممن نجحوا نجاح منقطع النظير فى الحكم لم تكن تلك شيمهم ولا مبادئهم، ولكني وجدت اختلاف أساسي مشترك بينهم في دوافعهم أنهم -جميعاً- لم يطمحوا للدنيا، وأهدافهم كانت أسمي من السيطرة والحكم، وهو إثبات أن أراء ميكيافيللي واقعية جداً طالما الهدف دنيوي بحت.

    المدهش في الكتاب أنك بعد قراءته إذا حاولت أن تنظر حولك ستجد أن كل ما قاله ذلك الرجل يحدث بكل تفاصيله في كل بلاد الأرض وبدقة مرعبة، وهو ما يطرح سؤال مهم، هل ميكيافيللي هو من غير شكل العالم بأفكاره وأراءه، أم أنه فقط كان صادق وواقعي في تسجيل الوجه القميئ للسياسة البشرية؟

  • Huda Yahya
  • Florencia

    This is no

    , that's for sure. You must kill the fox, burn the rose, murder the businessman, if any of them tries to take control over your princedom. There is no time to be nice! There is only time to seem to be nice. At the end of the day, it is better to be feared than loved, if you can't be both. But, keep in mind chapter 23.

    The Prince was written in the 16th century, and some of its ideas are too contemporary. It is a major treatise that influenced political leaders, through his

    This is no

    , that's for sure. You must kill the fox, burn the rose, murder the businessman, if any of them tries to take control over your princedom. There is no time to be nice! There is only time to seem to be nice. At the end of the day, it is better to be feared than loved, if you can't be both. But, keep in mind chapter 23.

    The Prince was written in the 16th century, and some of its ideas are too contemporary. It is a major treatise that influenced political leaders, through history. Machiavelli is widely regarded as the father of modern politics, by taking away any trace of theology and morality from his works. (That is something no one has ever said before.) I should have read it long ago, but everything has its time, I guess.

    So, there are a lot of concepts that should stay in the book. A few you can apply in ordinary circumstances. But, it delivers what you are waiting for, if you want to know how to have and keep power to yourself, no matter the head you are crushing, and all that with a straight-forward prose. It is short, easy to understand, even though the concept of achieving glory, power and survival, no matter how immoral you have to be..., it is not tough to get; THAT we get.

    All that cruelty, wickedness, immorality; all those things apparently needed to achieve greatness, printed long ago in the form of a little book, just like that... From a twisted point of view, sometimes, it is almost a bit funny.

    It was an excellent read.

    Lovely.

    * Also on

  • Henry Avila

    Italy in the early 1500's was a sad, dispirited land of constant wars, deaths, destructions, political betrayals, schemes of conquest by greedy aristocrats, trying to enlarge their petty Italian states, invasion by ruthless, foreign troops, from France, Spain, the Swiss, rulers being overthrown and killed, armies continuously marching, towns sacked, fires blazing, black smoke poring into the sky , mercenary soldiers, slaughtering the innocent, pestilence spreading, only the wise, the strong and

    Italy in the early 1500's was a sad, dispirited land of constant wars, deaths, destructions, political betrayals, schemes of conquest by greedy aristocrats, trying to enlarge their petty Italian states, invasion by ruthless, foreign troops, from France, Spain, the Swiss, rulers being overthrown and killed, armies continuously marching, towns sacked, fires blazing, black smoke poring into the sky , mercenary soldiers, slaughtering the innocent, pestilence spreading, only the wise, the strong and the lucky could abide...Niccolo Machiavelli, during the Renaissance, was a successful politician , and astute diplomat , from volatile Florence, until losing power and influence there...exiled, living seven miles from his native city, bored, he had plenty of time to think, write letters to friends, the nobles and books... and knowing how treacherous men are. His most famous book, The Prince, based on the cunning Cesar Borgia, the illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI, no silly words about the nobility of rulers, ( a brief history, the recent bloodbaths, cities and men making bad decisions, philosophical discussions, how a Prince can remain in charge, at whatever cost) should act for the good of the people, but the real facts ..."Men are wretched creatures"... "It is better to be feared than loved,"..."Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception "...stated the experienced Machiavelli, he knew the hearts of the Princes. Having seen Cesar Borgia and talked at length with him, became an admirer, ( well aware of all his evil, the butchering, and deceit, it can be forgiven in these times ) ...this man could bring peace to his native country, by conquest... chase out the foul, foreign soldiers, unite Italy again, make her a mighty force ...But dreams are only dreams, somethings are not quite possible...."Men are simple", yet events can't be predicted..The Prince, still widely read, and quite important book on the ways of the world, told by a man who was involved during that turbulent era...While Cesar Borgia, The Prince, is greatly sanitized, into a better person, than he really was, this writer wanted to give the Italian reader hope, for a better, more prosperous future...in a land that he loved, the suffering and chaos must end... 500 years after this brilliant, but controversial little book was published, aspects of its contents will be recognized by modern audiences, a new adjective made, machiavellian ...to deceive people , by clever methods, to gain power... nations rise and fall, the maps change, but men's avarice, do not...


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