The Prince has been of paramount importance in the historical and political development of the modern world. Nelson Runger's performance is clear and thought-provoking, capturing the essence of this 16th-century classic. Machiavelli analyzes the characteristics and qualities of a prince; he explains how a ruler can seize power and how he can maintain it. In his examination of power, Machiavelli is ruthless and thorough. His theories have made him an essential voice in the study of government. Nelson Runger's narration provides the audience with a fresh and indispensable version of this masterpiece.
(P)1987 by Recorded Books, Inc.
A good reading of The Prince. This is the translation by Luigi Ricci, with a revision by E.R.P. Vincent. If you want to follow along with the text this translation is available in "The Prince and The Discourses" w/an introduction by Max Lerner. (The Modern Library, New York). If you listen to Machiavelli and just don't get it, I recommend "Machiavelli on Modern Leadership" by Michael A. Ledeen. He has some modern day Machiavellian examples that may help you grasp some of the concepts/theories.
This book is a frank discussion about how to acquire and use political power. The author's discussion of the use of immoral means to achieve this goal brought great changes in political philosophy. .
For Machiavelli the sole goal of the Prince was to obtain power and hold it. Using historical models he sets out the most effective means to attain this end. The nobles and the people were the two forces that held political power in Machiavelli's time. The author discusses the actions the Prince must take to maintain his power over each group. The nobles have their land and soldiers and often their interests are opposed to the goals of The Prince. To maintain his power it is important for the Prince that his subjects fear him rather than love him.
In his discussion on fortresses Machiavelli makes the statement that the best fortress is the love of the people. A state that is prosperous and ruled fairly is the best way to achieve the love of the people. The Prince must also cultivate the love of the people through great achievements building a charisma that draws them to him.
The art of war is a very important part of Machiavelli's discussion. Mercenaries are the most dangerous troops to use. They fight for their own reasons and are only loyal to the Prince as long as he is able to pay them. Auxiliary troops drawn from the people are more likely to remain loyal as long as their love for the Prince is constant.
Machiavelli's ideas inaugurated modern politics and statecraft. He was original and unencumbered by the prevailing morality of the medieval church. Many of his ideas came from Classical Rome and his thinking was very important in the beginning of the Renaissance. The phrase "Machiavellian" came to mean the use of evil means in pursuit of power. His ideas quickly came into wide use. One hundred years after this book was written the leaders in the Thirty Years War were using many of the principles he set forth. Morality no longer governed their actions as they used Machiavelli's ideas to defeat their enemies. Just as Machiavelli predicted mercenary soldiers often ruined kingdoms when the rulers ran out of money to pay them. In today's world the ideas of Machiavelli have become the norm and morality is not allowed to interfere with actions necessary to maintain power.
After all I had heard of this book, I was very disappointed. I was expecting a story that had some political commentary. What I got was a political treatice so dated that I was unable to follow it. I am not a student of history and thus was continually confused by his many references to other historical personages and events.
Runger makes a valient effort to bring the book to life. He just has a tremendous challenge that is difficult to overcome.
Here are a few quotes
"But when dominions are acquired in a province differeing in language, laws and customs, the difficulties to be overcome are great, and it requires good fortune as well as great industry to retain them; one of the best and most certain means of doing so would be for the new ruler to take up his residence there."
"The desire to acquire possessions is a very natural and ordinary thing, and when those men do it who can do so successfully, they are always praised and not blamed, but when they canot and yet want to do so at all costs, they make a mistake deserving of great blame."
"For the Romans did in these cases what all wise princes should do, who consider not only present but also future discords and diligently guard against them; for being foreseen they can easily be remedied, but if one waits till they are at hand, the medicine is no longer in time as the malady has become incurable; ....Thus it happens in matters of state; for knowing afar off (which it is only given to a prudent man to do) the evils that are brewing, they are easily cured. But when, for want of such knowledge, they are allowed to grow so that everyone can recogise them, there is no longer any remedy to be found."
Just some nuggets in chapter 3 there is much more wisdom in here.
I've been wanting to read this book for many years, but never got around to cracking it open. With all of the raves about the book that I heard from others and read on Amazon, I thought that this book must hold some incredible nuggets of truth and wisdom. So, I was delighted to find that the book is on audio.
I guess that if I were required to read this book for school, it would be much less painful to hear it on audio than to have to actually read every word. I don't think that I could stay awake through a page.
I would have rated the book with only one star, but the audio is well done -- I give the narrator credit for trying to inject some enthusiasm in to the words and make it sound interesting.
After listening to a portion of the book, I would stop and ask myself, "Now what did I learn from that?" The answer was always nothing. It is much like sitting through a corporate meeting where some high level manger gives an important sounding speech. Then when you get back to your desk and reflect on the meeting, you realize that he said a lot of stuff about nothing.
Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't get the hype surrounding The Prince.
Not much plot, but interesting background. Glad I listened to it, but not sure I could recommend it to someone who isn't already interested.
I liked this book well enough. I really, really liked Herodotus as a historian, though. Marco Polo did not have much insight into people, though he must have gotten along with them pretty well. I think this book is famous because it was the first accounting of large areas of the world, even for the well-traveled Venitians. Marco Polo found a lot of the people he visited to be either infidels or idolators. Apparently to me, anyway, he thought the infidels to be more advanced than the idolators.
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