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on May 20, 2012
NM said it like it was, if I had to put him in context it would go something like this "this is the chess board, these are the pieces, these are the rules, and this is how it is played, if you want to win this is what you must do". NM outlined clearly within The Prince what it takes to win power, maintain power, and consolidate power.

NM's ideas were not morally correct, not only by the standards of his time, but also by the standards of our time. NM was not concerned with ethics, scruples, or morals, he was mainly concerned with the question of how a prince could "unconditionally" keep himself on the throne in-spite of internal and external factors. He gives the solution to this just as a person writes instructions for playing chess, in which it would be foolish to regret the failure to answer the question whether it is morally advisable to play chess at all.

The Prince is not by any means a instruction manual on how to run a state, although it does give some good pointers on what one must do in order to run it successfully. Rather, The Prince is more of a representation of an "Idea", after reading the book, one should get the picture of what NM was trying to explain. "The ends justifies the means" (as is written in The Prince) is pretty much summarising the whole entire book in one sentence, you don't really need to read anymore beyond that unless you want to get in depth.

Finally I am going to do NM some justice after so many others have done him injustice; the question is was NM Machiavellian? I’ve read all four of his books and I found the answer to that question in his book “Discourses on Livy”, here is what he says…. "The best remedy whoever becomes prince of either a city or a state has for holding that principality is to make everything in that state anew;.... to make the rich poor, the poor rich, as did David when he became king...., not to leave anything untouched in that province, so that there is no rank, no order, no state, no wealth there that he who holds it does not it as from you; and to take as one's model Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander, who from a small king became prince of Greece with these modes. He who writes of him says that he transferred men from province to province as herdsmen transfer their herds. these modes are very cruel, and enemies to every way of life, not only Christian but human; and any man whatever should flee them and wish to live in private rather than as a king with so much ruin to men. Nonetheless he who does not wish to take the first way of the good must enter into this evil one if he wishes to maintain himself." (Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourses On Livy, University of Chicago 1996, book 1 chapter 26 page 61-62)….. NM according to this was not truly Machiavellian himself, he only encouraged Princes and Leaders to behave in this manner as he believed it was necessary for them to do so, and that his methods were never intended for ordinary individuals like us, as it never should have been.

Great read 5/5
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on May 22, 2013
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli is a classic guide to acquiring and maintaining political power is refreshing in its directness, yet often disturbing in its cold practicality. Starkly relevant to the political upheavals of the 20th century, this calculating prescription for power remains today, nearly 500 years after it was written, a timely and startling lesson in the practice of autocratic rule.
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Liberalists, humanists and populists beware! This is the how-to-manual that the political right-wing has been reading and memorizing since the early 1500s. In what some persons may claim to be an objective manner, Machiavelli clearly defines the intricate steps that are necessary for a Prince (aka Dictator) to not only seize control of a country, but to firmly maintain that control and then to finally expand his/her holdings by invading and conquering neighboring lands. I personally view this approach as being nothing more than a self-guided tour of beligerent control, underhanded manipulation and elitist greed.

There is nothing in this text that reinforces that 'all men are created equal' nor that the social structure of government is to be for all persons and not the few who view themselves as its ruling-elite. Machiavelli elevates political leaders to an almost god-like existence and views them as separate from, and not part of, the populace they are attempting to dominate. While this book is, and always will be, an indictment on dictatorial and monastic rule, I strongly urge everyone to read it. We, as a voting public, have a tendency to become lax and overlook some of the control issues that are shown by our existing elected officials. This book serves as a guidepost to what may occur if we ignore the present and questionable realities for too long and do nothing to halt them.
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on September 21, 2001
Machiavelli wrote this book for the Medici back in a time that is suppossed to be so different from today. Yet, The Prince is as applicable as the day it was wrote- maybe more so. It's a concise, almost surgical, guidebook to world domination. Superficially, this book is written like stereo instructions with precise directions on control of your enemies, followers, and friends. But, deeply, it will force any serious reader to take stock of the lengths neccessary to attain great power. Lives are flited at like pieces on a chess board with absolutely no uneccessary concern (if they can't hurt ya, screw 'em). Why, aside from that whole learning about world domination thing, this book is such a neccessary read for anybody with a stake in daily life is because this is the book your leaders sleep with under their pillow. There hasn't been an intelligent, powerful, and influential political leader that hasn't been influenced by Machiavelli and this book. It's very important to really wrap yourself around reality in reading this book so as to open your own eyes to what people do to lead (not just dictators, facists, and imperialists, but deomcrats and republicans.). This book is Political Reality 101- you must read it.
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on March 20, 2011
While much of the material might come off as cold, deceptive, immoral, or just unacceptable to the average person, it is truly a unique reading experience. Machiavelli unemotionally lays out a series of logical arguments on what one must do to gain and, perhaps more importantly, maintain power over a people/society/kingdom, citing multiple examples and explanations for each one. I would recommend this little book without hesitation as an interesting read on historical politics and strategy.
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on July 15, 2016
I've often had to read parts of this book in university when I was studying philosophy and really enjoyed it. I was glad to finally be able to read it in its entirety so I could better understand it. It's definitely thought provoking and I enjoyed the read.
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on December 21, 2015
Strategically sound. Tactically brilliant. Much ill is said about Machiavelli that is not justified. He was a religious man that studied history and was concerned with understanding the prosperity of kingdoms & states, and the role of war in peace. The Prince in a collection of distilled wisdom. The Prince is a crude, cold and efficient manual for achieving and retaining State power, much like The Art of War, but it is not without morals.
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on March 10, 2016
interesting read. Amazing that this was written quite some time ago and yet it is very, very relevant today. It's not an easy read per se. But it's not a long read. If you want a glimpse into a very intelligent mind, grab this book.
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on August 1, 2014
It is wildly hilarious that I can be one of the 15 or so reviews of this book that effectively determines the rating of this work on the worlds largest literature purchasing platform in the world. That is almost as comedic as the subject matter.

I came to Machiavelli through his comedy plays, which are hilarious and a plus for those of you into the whole hotwife and adultery humour. Sure the context of where Niccolo was when he wrote this and the surrounding political climates make this book a more fuller experience, but I feel like thats a vast subject matter that could be better explored in an HBO long arc style of TV show. The scenes with NM in prison while the Medici establish their power in the city all set against a backdrop of Italian women doing nude bathhouse scenes and the occasional war flaring up with gruesome death all around... Can you say Game of Thrones on the Mediteranian... Mmmmm Italian women....

While the content is familiar to us all today via tropes and architypical usuage of the concepts through history and even plagerised into speechs over the ages this book is mostly interesting as a study into the types of people who ascribe to it as a high work of practical philosophy. It is said that the Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau kept a copy in his bedside table and traveled with the book while leading Canada... Canada... the same Canada that is peace loving and merciful.... thats funny.
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Those who have read one or more of the volumes that comprise Tom Butler-Bowdon's '50 Classics' series already know that he possesses superior reasoning and writing skills as well as a relentless curiosity when conducting research on history's greatest thinkers and their major works. For these and other reasons, I cannot think of another person better qualified to provide the introductions to the volumes that comprise a new series, 'Capstone Classics.'

Unlike so many others, he provides more, much more than a flimsy "briefing" to the given work. As Butler-Bowdon points out, 'recent research has focused on [Machiavelli's] ethics and the fact that he was a genuine moral philosopher and well-rounded Renaissance man whose overriding wish was to be useful.' This obviously challenges the mistaken but durable perception of Machiavelli as being 'evil' by those who have never read The Prince and know even less about the age in which it was written.

Indeed, as Yale's Erica Benner suggests in Machiavelli's Ethics (published by Princeton University Press, 2009), The Prince is 'best seen not as a guide on how to be ruthless or self-serving, but rather as a lens to see objectively the prevailing views of the day, and to open the eyes of the reader to the motives of others.'

For this volume, Butler-Bowdon poses and then addresses key issues such as these in order to create a context, a frame-of-reference, for Niccolò Machiavelli's insights:

o The defining characteristics of the social and political forces of the period during which he lived and worked
o The extent to which The Prince accurately reflects that period
o The dominant influences (for better or worse) on Machiavelli's career
o Their impact on his efforts to advance that career amidst deadly perils and equally perilous opportunities
o The unique contributions and heritage of The Prince within the development of western literature
o Machiavelli's articles of religious faith and perspectives political realities (e.g. his "success laws")
o His definition of "power" and how best to gain and then apply it
o Girolamo Savonarola's significance
o The role of image and charisma in effective leadership
o Machiavelli's "final, powerful message" to our own times

There were so many passages in The Prince that caught my eye while re-reading it prior to writing this brief review. One was cited in its title (i.e. a leader needs to be both 'a fox to discern snares, and a lion to drive off wolves') and Butler-Bowdon cites another when concluding the Introduction to this volume: Reflecting Machiavelli's basic philosophy regarding the division of causal power between and chance and merit, he states that, "What remains to be done must be done by you," as ultimately "God will not do everything Himself." To which Butler-Bowdon responds, "The Prince ultimately is a book of [begin italics] action [end italics], and demands of you the reader, to act without fear to achieve noble things, acquiring distinction and perhaps a certain glory in your own lifetime."

As indicated earlier, Tom Butler-Bowdon's purpose in this introduction is to create a context, a frame-of-reference, for Machiavelli's insights. He does so brilliantly and also in each of the other volumes in the 'Capstone Classics" series that have been published thus far.
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