This new edition of The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli, part of the Capstone Original Classic series, is beautifully presented as befits a work of this stature and importance. The pleasing cover design and layout make it an excellent gift. However, Tom Butler-Bowdon's lucid and engaging introduction, to a work he rightly describes as "timeless", is also worth possessing. He provides an excellent and very readable introduction to Machiavelli and his historical context and a laudable survey of his principal ideas. This fine essay is accompanied by a concise bullet-point summary of The Prince's main points, a timeline of the author's life, and details of his other works. Tom helps to set the record straight: Machiavelli was a political pragmatist not a monster. He condemns wanton vice and cruelty and says instead: "It is essential, therefore, for a Prince who desires to maintain his position, to have learned how to be other than good, and to use or not use his goodness as necessity requires." Sometimes force is necessary for the benefit of the state, according to this view, and difficult decisions lie ahead of any new ruler. Apart from being a classical work of political philosophy, The Prince arguably has something to offer the modern reader as a guide to life, in much the same way as Sun Tzu's The Art of War. It paints a picture of the ideal ruler as someone who faces adversity with a tough-minded realism but does so, ultimately, with noble aims. I highly recommend this edition of the "original classic" not only to those with an interest in politics and ethics, therefore, but to those seeking an alternative to the more saccharine forms of contemporary self-help.
Author of The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy