Top positive review
Well Translated by W.K. Marriott in 1908
Reviewed in the United States on January 2, 2014
"The Prince" is one of the great classics of moral literature devoted to the pursuit of political power and domination. The ethical issues of which it treats have been discussed throughout much of history, and in rating this book with four and nearly five stars, I am not recommending the moral value of the argument it makes. That judgment must be rendered by the individual reader and ultimately by events defining his or her constituent society. Whether Machiavelli's advice is good or bad is NOT the point of my review. I am evaluating only the clarity of the English language used in its translation. I am not even assessing the accuracy of the translation, although I believe it to be good.
I presume that the book was scanned for its modern reproduction as a Kindle publication. All of us know that such scans need careful proofreading and even editing to be clear. However, this text, I think, is easy to read and quite good, although I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the translation in every instance.
The work is coherent. And it is an important piece of literature. It has been widely influential, perhaps even having added twists to the turns of one of the greatest works by Christopher Marlowe, and also to the remarkable novel, "Faust," by the German genius, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
This work of advice to one of the Medici princes may not have been the inspiration for either the English poet or the German novelist. The source of the two Faustian characters may have been a legend in which a German astrologer made a pact with the Devil in order to further his own ends. But it surely is possible that Machiavelli exerted an influence also upon the great Marlowe, whose play (questioning whether in the moral terms of power struggles the end justifies the means) "The Tragicall History 0f Faustus" came to life less than eight decades after the death of Machiavelli.
Since the 16th century, the philosophy of self-serving manipulation has been called "Machiavellian." The notion that the end justifies the means, and that it is appropriate to use almost any means available to achieve personal mastery over others (including every sort of deception, misinformation and misdirection, so well as theft, murder or felonious maneuvers involving treachery so secretive, yet overwhelming, as to be almost unimaginable) have born that appellation. The only means excluded are those that cannot be hidden or defended. This philosophy provides the template for betrayal as portrayed in modern books of spy-craft. By substantially implying that either a resolution of evil or a peril of conscience must exist in the plotted pursuits of power, it is part of the fabric with which the finest authors of espionage thrillers, such as John le Carre, fill their page-turning studies of the human spirit. Evil practices in support of power long have been called "Machiavellian" and attributed to Machiavelli's book, "The Prince," which the author recommended as possibly edifying for a likely successor among ruthless political potentates.
Many might say that the philosophy advocated in this book is so malevolent that its sanctions all involve a kind of pact with the Devil.
Others, perhaps even philosophers, who actually can define the difference between "real war" and "true war," such as Carl von Clausewitz did, might be able to rationalize it differently. If war is merely the continuation of policy by other means, then it is possible to see expediency, only, in some of the places where moralists of another hue find evil.
My position in this review does not cover the moral nature of the work. It says only that this copy is clearly written and can be read easily.