Book Reviews of The Prince (Bantam Classic)

The Prince (Bantam Classic)
The Prince - Bantam Classic
Author: Niccolo Machiavelli
ISBN-13: 9780553212273
ISBN-10: 0553212273
Publication Date: 8/1/1984
Pages: 147
Rating:
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
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4 stars, based on 1 rating
Publisher: Bantam Classics
Book Type: Paperback
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For a book as brief as THE PRINCE, its impact on history has been at least as great as almost any other work. Over the centuries, it has gotten a bad reputation as some sort of guidebook for evil. But back when it was first written in the 16th century, Machiavelli indeed intended it as a guidebook, but neither for evil or for good. Rather he wrote it for a specific purpose. It was written expressly for the ruler princes of the Italian city-states who he believed could best benefit. Although its precepts are generalized to fit most country's ruling elite to a certain extent, the advice was tailored to fit the only government with which he was most familiar, his own. His motivation for writing has been construed as a bald grab for power, with Machiavelli as Mephistopheles and the grabber as a power hungry Dr. Faustus. The truth is more prosaic. His sole concern was the security of Italy. Concepts such as good, evil, war, peace, love, and hate were irrelevant only insofar as they productively led to this security. Those who read THE PRINCE today and try to follow his advice will find that such advice simply cannot be applied when the host country can reasonably call itself democratic. Consider an American politician who reads Chapter 17: "Of Cruelty and Clemency, and Whether It Is Better to Be Loved or Feared." Machiavelli could not have conceived of a leftist judiciary ruled by the edicts of Political Correctness which would not inconvenience even one's enemies to protect one's friends or even oneself. In the 16th century, rulers could and often did take actions that were harmful to a few for the betterment of the many. Similarly such a politician today may read Chapter 18: "In What Ways Princes Must Keep Faith." Here Machiavelli argues that since the world is often run by unscrupulous and faithless dealers, one need not be overly concerned with keeping one's word given to those reprobate leaders. Can you imagine what some politicians would say when they realize that they are dealing with world leaders who may not always be honest but we must act nobly in any case? Despite the resurgence in interest in THE PRINCE, such interest is likely to remain in the academic arena until such time as our governmental system of checks and balances is replaced by one with which Machiavelli is more familiar.