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The Prince [Paperback]

Niccolo Machiavelli
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 4 2010
A new edition of the classic THE PRINCE. A political treatise by the Florentine political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli.

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About the Author

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) was a Florentine statesman who was later forced out of public life. He then devoted himself to studying and writing political philosophy, history, fiction, and drama.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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ALL STATES and dominions which hold or have held sway over mankind are either republics or monarchies. Read the first page
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic deserving of its fame April 7 2004
By JPAN
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This classic treatise is the most famous work on the subject of political power, and with good cause. Machiavelli outlines the basic principles of how to properly govern a kingdom, from whether it is better to fight with native troops (he argues that it is better to lose with your own soldiers than with with mercenaries) to whether it is better to be loved or feared (he clearly sides with the latter). Despite its somewhat negative connotations, the author goes to great lengths to outline why he comes to the conclusions he does. Taken in their proper context, Machiavelli's positions are, I believe, much less inflamatory than their stereo-types. One also must considers the time and circumstances in which the book was written.
In conclusion, this book is a must-read for anyone who considers themselves to be a reader of classics. I picked up this edition in the airport for 4 dollars...how could you go wrong? Anyone would be proud to place this on his or her bookshelf.
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4.0 out of 5 stars This book is a must-read April 14 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you're reading this review, I'll assume you've come to realize how important this book is. Controversial, definitely, but worth reading. This particular edition is really nice. I haven't seen a book this cheap in a long time. For those who don't know, "The Prince" is a manuscipt written by Machiavelli to the Medici (I think) family in some province of Italy. It outlines the ways in which a ruler can maintain power by analyzing the actions of past rulers. It's short enough to keep you interested, and important enough to warrant buying this book.
Although the stated scope of the book (how rulers can maintain their position) is relatively narrow, the lessons of the book apply to a wide variety of situations. From business to politics, this book contains many of the essential lessons to succeed with power. While nobody should expect to learn how to stay in power after reading this book (this, of course, requires a great deal of experience), one can reasonably expect a good deal of insight into the way people think.
My *single* complaint about the book is that it is sometimes too dense to read casually. While not classifiable as an "intense" read, it falls somewhere between a historical textbook and an instruction manual.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic deserving of its fame April 7 2004
By JPAN - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This classic treatise is the most famous work on the subject of political power, and with good cause. Machiavelli outlines the basic principles of how to properly govern a kingdom, from whether it is better to fight with native troops (he argues that it is better to lose with your own soldiers than with with mercenaries) to whether it is better to be loved or feared (he clearly sides with the latter). Despite its somewhat negative connotations, the author goes to great lengths to outline why he comes to the conclusions he does. Taken in their proper context, Machiavelli's positions are, I believe, much less inflamatory than their stereo-types. One also must considers the time and circumstances in which the book was written.
In conclusion, this book is a must-read for anyone who considers themselves to be a reader of classics. I picked up this edition in the airport for 4 dollars...how could you go wrong? Anyone would be proud to place this on his or her bookshelf.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not much I can add April 3 2008
By J. S. Breunig - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
What more to write that others haven't? It's The Prince, Machiavelli's work, chances are you're coming in with a lot of preconceived notions, assumptions, or just intrigue.

First, the writing style. The book is divided into short essays. This makes it great for reading for 5 minute bursts or sitting down and reading at leisure. The language is natural and flowing, for the most part. Some of the references are to "contemporary" actions, which unless you study fifteenth-century Italian politics will be a bit over your head. Still, points are made, and examples usually at least have a sentence of background.

Now, the content. Not being in the business of power, I can't attest to the efficacy of the claims. The author certainly does a good job of making his case: using examples, hypotheticals, abstract theories and a dash of reason. I do now look at things like office politics, organized crime and international relations in a new light, trying to understand if the concepts still apply. Surprisingly, a number of them seem to play out no matter the stakes or timeframe. So for a new perspective, this book does deliver.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars #20 Power Politics (Understanding the Enemy) May 29 2010
By T. Price - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Power Politics (Understanding the Enemy)
The quintessential evil doers manual...knowing this will give you insights to all the power mongers of the planet!
4.0 out of 5 stars not what I expected April 8 2014
By nohoboy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The picture must be of the paperback version. What I received was a real 1903 edition book, not a copy! I checked the collectors market and the price was in line with the market for good condition. I was stunned.
4.0 out of 5 stars The Classic Study on Governing Nov. 10 2013
By Acute Observer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Prince, Ed. Christian Gauss

Christian Gauss was the Dean Emeritus of Princeton University when he wrote the introduction to explain the times in which Machiavelli lived, and its meaning to today’s readers. This translation was published in 1903 and revised in 1935. Gauss says the events of the 20th century created new interest in this five century old book. “The Prince” considered the relations of the citizen to the state, the relationship between states, and the sources and limits to the powers of a state. The brevity and style makes it easy reading when Machiavelli uses historical knowledge to discuss past and present rulers, their politics, and their fates. Italy was divided between five major states, where shifts of power could affect a state adversely. Machiavelli was the Secretary of the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence, in charge of military and diplomatic affairs. He was sent on many missions to other states. The quote about “the end justifying the means” is taken out of context; it was not meant to be a general rule.

When the Republic of Florence was conquered and the Medici family re-installed in power, Machiavelli (like others) was purged from office. His “Letter to the Prince” was his resume which displayed his knowledge of politics and history. It worked to bring Machiavelli back to office. After the Medici were overthrown, Machiavelli was dismissed, and considered a collaborator. His death left his family in poverty, his son published this work to earn money. This book has been in continuous publication ever since. While others wrote books on what a ruler should do; Machiavelli described what rulers actually did and the results. This book was written at a particular period of time, many of his examples are outdated. You should not take it all as 100% true. Quoting out of context can distort this and other books.

In Chapter 12 Machiavelli notes the chief foundation of all states are good laws and good arms. Good arms and good laws go together. A disarmed populace will be oppressed by bad laws that cannot be changed by the people. The well-armed Swiss enjoy great freedom. Mercenary soldiers will act in their own interests, not for the government that hires them. They can always sell out to an enemy for a higher price, or attack the government that hired them to create a military dictatorship. [Our Founding Fathers were well aware of this: no large standing army.] In Chapter 13 Machiavelli says the use of auxiliaries, or foreign troops, is worse than mercenaries. If they win they will then be powerful and obedient to a foreign ruler. Rome began to fall after it hired Goth mercenaries.

In Chapter 14 Machiavelli says a ruler who thinks “more of luxury than of arms” will lose his state. In modern terms, it means the head of a business who concentrates on golfing, flying, or horses rather than his business and the competition will soon see a decline in revenues. The “prince who is ignorant of military matters” can be compared to the clueless pointy-haired manager in Dilbert-land. That will lead to poor decisions and failures. In Chapter 18 Machiavelli notes how rulers keep faith: they follow a promise only when it is in their interest to do so. But this is no different from mankind in general. A ruler must adapt according to current fortune. A ruler must seem to be all mercy, faith, integrity, humanity, and religion. [Does this remind you of Presidents over the last 50 years?]

In Chapter 19 Machiavelli says a ruler must be considered merciful rather than cruel, but not misuse mercy. Cruelty must be used to keep subjects united and faithful, rather than a mercy that causes disorders. A ruler should be both feared and loved, but is it safer to be feared than loved. Men in general are weak and ungrateful, and not reliable or trustworthy unless there is a fear of punishment that never fails. A ruler should never be hated; abstain from taking the property or women from subjects or citizens. A reputation for cruelty is needed to control soldiers. [I wonder how many failing corporations lacked a Department of Internal Affairs to detect and punish corruption?]
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