Niccolo's Smile: A Biography of Machiavelli Paperback – Jan 9 2002
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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
About the Author
Maurizio Viroli has written many works on political philosophy, most notably Machiavelli. A professor of politics at Princeton University, he lives in Princeton, New Jersey, and Forli, Italy.
Top Customer Reviews
My favorite part of Niccolo's Smile was the chapter about Niccolo's banishment from Florence. I liked this chapter because it was written with such an amount of detail. To me, it seemed like the author interviewed Machiavelli because he knew Machiavelli's exact feelings during every minute of his expulsion from his native town. It was in this part of the book which made me feel the deepest sympathy for this man. Especially since Machiavelli's banishment was his punishment for committing a crime he was falsely accused for.
Viroli's Niccolo's Smile was a slightly interesting read considering it was a biography. It taught me many new things behind the world of politics.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The invasion of Italy by Charles VIII of France in 1494 upset the balance of power. Florence surrendered. Piero Medici was overthrown and a republic was formed by its ruling families. In 1498 Savonarola was condemned by Pope Alexander VI; corruption triumphed over unarmed virtue (p.27). Niccolò, age 19, was appointed secretary of the Second Chancery which handled domestic and foreign affairs (p.28). The next chapters tell about the politics of that era. Niccolò understood politics (p.68), the striving for wealth (p.69). These chapters tell of the history of that time and the actions of Niccolò. The defeat of the French by the Holy League led to the end of the Florentine Republic (Chapter 14). While in forced retirement he wrote "The Prince" (Chapter 16). Many saw it as an evil work (p.156). It was based on reality and historical examples as Niccolò viewed them. History is a teacher as long as you don't misjudge past events. He wrote a commentary on Livy's history; what made a ruler good (pp.186-187)? A republic is superior because the people are wiser than any prince (p.188). Only a militia of armed citizens is proper to a republic (p.216). The factions and rivalry prevented a united front to the invaders (Chapter 22). Emperor Charles V invaded Italy and sacked Rome in 1527. Niccolò told how the Romans made peace with arms not money that made their enemies stronger (p.251). The defense of Florence made Rome vulnerable (p.255). The aristocracy overthrew Medici rule again (p.256). Niccolò suffered from a bad reputation: "an evil man, a heretic, and an advisor to tyrants" (p.257).
Over the past five centuries no one has written a book that continues "The Prince" in telling about the rise and fall of rulers and their countries. Europe and the Americas could provide many examples. "The Prince" compared the rulers of countries and tells how they prospered or failed due to their actions and circumstances together with the effects of fate or fortune. No one has written a book that tells about the rise and fall of American corporations in the 20th century, which seems to be an easier task.
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