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THE PRINCE (Wisehouse Classics Edition) Kindle Edition
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"From the Hardcover edition." --abc
"[Machiavelli] can still engage our attention with remarkable immediacy, and this cannot be explained solely by the appeal of his ironic observations on human behaviour. Perhaps the most important thing is the way he can compel us to reflect on our own priorities and the reasoning behind them; it is this intrusion into our own defenses that makes reading him an intriguing experience. As a scientific exponent of the political art Machiavelli may have had few followers; it is as a provocative rhetorician that he has had his real impact on history." -from the Introduction by Dominic Baker-Smith
"From the Hardcover edition." --Washington Post --This text refers to the paperback edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B019YZVHUI
- Publisher : Wisehouse Classics; 1st edition (December 27, 2015)
- Publication date : December 27, 2015
- Language : English
- File size : 452 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 98 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #545,970 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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“Everybody sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.” While considered evil, many of Machiavelli’s ideals are practical and pragmatic. Contemporary politicians could learn something from reading this book, though being regarded as Machiavellian is of course seen negatively, and how can you not when the two most famous axioms from The Prince are ‘the end justifies the means’ (though Machiavelli technically doesn’t say this) and ‘its better to be fear than loved’.
I believe that this is one of those books that should be read by anybody interested in history, politics, business, anything.
In modern times, this is critical in understanding the full meaning of the text and this translation could have done a better job at explaining more of the subtext.
The book is more descriptive than prescriptive in that it tells what the successful ruler does.
The first third or so is inspired, often quoted, and not so terrible morally. Reading it is also an interesting and enjoyable way to comprehend a lot of history from ancient Greek times through the Renaissance, as Machiavelli draws examples from all periods. But the author finds himself on a slippery slope, first sliding into contradicting his own advice, advocating extremely abusive treatment of women, then descending into aiding and abetting murder of persons under what's equivalent to a flag of truce.
There is an excellent backgrounder included. Machiavelli was a civil servant in the Republic of Florence. He met and consulted with and perhaps even advised princes of other governments in his capacity with Florence, but never worked for one. When the Medici regained power in Florence, Machiavelli wanted to keep/regain his job and wrote this book as a resume and gave it to the Duke.
Machiavelli advises a prince should never take advice from anyone of whom he has not asked it. Therefore, his book asks a prince (duke) to ignore his own advice.
"One change always leaves the toothing for another" - said in the context of meet the new boss, same or worse than the old boss. The context also implies that if one meddles in the affairs of another region or country, one sows the seeds of future problems, and this in large part leads Machaivelli to some of his other conclusions, particularly the next two, and also the 2nd entry in the quotes section below.
A prince by inheritance has the easiest time holding his kingdom. All he has to do is be moderately competent and honor the traditions. A new prince must necessarily injure some people who will dislike him. - Later the author contradicts this statement. The contradiction is not often quoted. It is found in chapter XXIV "the actions of a new prince are more narrowly observed than those of an hereditary one, and when they are seen to be able, they gain more men and bind far tighter than ancient blood."
A prince who wishes to hold an annexed territory, especially if it has different customs, should go and live there. Otherwise he will not learn of problems until it is too late. (Imagine if George Bush had gone to live in Iraq ... either he would have been assassinated or Iraq would have been straightened out)
The people wish to be free of domination and the nobles wish to dominate the people. Either will appeal to a prince or a parliament to protect them from the other. So this is the role of the prince.
To gain a country through significant aid of those already there will result in losing it to those same parties. Think about how Karzai grew opposed to the US after we conquered Afghanistan with his assistance.
To standby in a war in which one has been asked for aid will have a bad outcome. It is better to take a side. If it is the winning side, one has the gratitude of the winner. If one has stood aside, the winner may conquer you.
It is better to have the good will of the people than fortresses. Generally, critics overlook how often Machiavelli emphasizes having the good will of the people. He primarily advocates devious strategies against nobles and other princes, not against peoples.
A liberal (giving of benefits or charity) outlook will either bankrupt you or cause you to raise taxes and lose the goodwill of the people. A miserly outlook will allow you to live within your budget while still accomplishing things, and be better for goodwill in the long run.
Being too merciful (with respect to criminals and troublemakers) is not merciful really, because it allows disorders to arise from which follow murders and robberies which injure the people as a whole.
Mercenaries are useless, because they are only loyal when there is no war to fight and will desert when faced with a real enemy. M credited the use of mercenaries with the loss of the Roman Empire and the weakness of Italy compared to France and Germany.
POPULAR QUOTATIONS AND THEIR CAVEATS OR FLAWS
"It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both." - often taken out of context, Machiavelli emphasizes the most important thing is not to be hated.
"If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared." - Stalin used this to justify murdering all of a man's family and most of his allies or friends. Again the context is ignored. In Machiavelli's age, as in Stalin's, as in Saddam's Iraq and some places today, such actions may be possible, but in most countries the secret police are not so loyal or able as to carry off the deeds in secret, and the people will grow to hate the prince, which is according to Machiavelli the worst thing that can happen.
"Men ought to be well treated or crushed." - corollary of the above, plus the view that it is wise not to be hated.
"Men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, for everyone can see and few can feel. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are." - Well, there was no internet in M's day, and those you touched could not tweet about it.
"There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others." - Neville Chamberlain and other British prime ministers had to re-learn this lesson prior to WWII with appeasement.
"He who is the cause of another becoming powerful is ruined."
"When princes have thought more of ease than of arms, they have lost their states." - M constantly compares Italy to the more militarily prepared Germans.
"There is nothing that wastes so rapidly as liberality, for even while you exercise it you lose the power to do so."
"Hatred is acquired as much by good works as bad ones."
"It is easier for a prince to make friends of those men who were contented under the former government, and are therefore his enemies, than of those who being discontented with it, were favorable to him and encouraged him to seize it."
THE ANTI-WOMEN QUOTE (involving an analogy to "fortune" chapter XXV)
"...fortune is a woman, and if you wish to keep her under, it is necessary to beat and ill-use her, and it is seen that she allows herself to be mastered by the adventurous rather than by those who go to work more coldly."
THE MURDER UNDER RECONCILIATION
In a sort of post script chapter, Machiavelli recounts being sent to advise Duke Valentino. He does not specify what advice he gave, but tells of the duke's actions in handling a revolt. Temporarily out-manned, the duke offers reconciliation. Under this pretext (essentially equivalent to a flag of truce), he takes 4 unarmed leaders into his hall, and has them strangled.
Interesting for how easy it is to apply or see in modern politics and co-workers.
I found myself thinking that Capriccio was odious in every way, but still able to understand why from Machiavelli's point of view he was admirable.
Top reviews from other countries
Would manipulate others again.