Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Prince

by Niccolo Machiavelli

Thoughts: Well, I feel completely unable to offer up any insight on this. It did make me wish I'd been able to study English and Literature in university (as well as computer science). Then I would have had a firmer grasp on this, perhaps. It also would have been considerably more interesting if I were familiar with Italian history, as there was quite a lot of it present here.

I can tell that Machiavelli is definitely insightful on human nature, though. I have two small examples. Firstly: "For it is the nature of men to be bound by the benefits they confer as much as by those they receive." (pg. 55) I have noticed this myself, and it is very true. I believe there have also been studies giving much evidence to this. And secondly, he discusses how important it is for princes to appear religious and upright, "but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite." (pg. 85) It reminded me of today's politicians, who are always very careful to seem religious, but in reality, often are not much at all.

Also, as a side note, Lord Vetinari (from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series) is decidedly Machiavellian. Some people seem to think that means "cruel" or "self-absorbed and egotistical", but it really doesn't. (See also my review for What Would Machiavelli Do?.)

Grade: 2 stars for my personal enjoyment. More objectively, I have no idea, but considering it's so well-known, probably some very high number like 4 1/2 or 5 stars.

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