is a pejorative term suggesting serpentine scheming and use of immoral, ruthless means to achieve desired ends; those ends usually include the maintenance of power at all costs. Inevitably, it is often assumed that Machiavelli himself must have reflected and practiced these methods in his personal and public life. Viroli, a professor of politics at Princeton, effectively refutes that notion in this absorbing and surprising survey of a full, eventful life. Machiavelli was cursed to live in interesting but chaotic and violent times. In Viroli's view, his longing for a powerful ruler was not merely based on a cynical wish to see power exercised; rather, Machiavelli hoped for a strong and, if necessary, devious ruler who could rule effectively but also wisely and justly. In his personal life, he is revealed here as a caring, sensitive man who, contrary to expectations, was frequently ruled by his heart rather than his head. This is a compact and enjoyable look at a man far more interesting than his myth. Jay FreemanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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"Elegant and accessible ... Viroli provides [a straightforward chronological account of events] in the pellucid Italian original, whose gracefulness has not been lost in Antony Shugaar's excellent translation ... The dramatics events of Italian political life and Machiavelli's participation in them ... determine the rhythm of his story." - Mark Lilla, The Washington Post Book World
"A welcome antidote to the clichéd image of self-interested knavery for which [Machiavelli] has become known ... Viroli succeeds ... in offering a fascinating portrait." - Alexander Stille, The New York Times Book Review