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Books that Matter: The Prince Lecture

Books that Matter: The Prince

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Publisher's Summary

Should leaders be feared or loved? Can dictators give rise to democracy? Should rulers have morals or wear them like a mask? Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince puts forth unsettling questions like these, whose answers redefined centuries of political wisdom. But what does it really mean to be Machiavellian?

These 24 lectures are more than just a close reading of one of the great books of Western history. They're a revealing investigation of the historical context of Machiavelli's philosophical views, his tumultuous relationship with Florentine politics, his reception by his contemporaries and by 20th-century scholars, and his lasting influence on everyone from William Shakespeare to Joseph Stalin.

Throughout the lectures, you'll dive deeply into the work's most important chapters to survey their main insights; read between the lines to uncover hidden meanings, inspirations, and ironies; learn how scholars have debated their historical inspiration and importance; and discover the author's startling imagery and sometimes beautiful language. Going beyond the commonly held vision of Renaissance Italy as a place of creative genius, Professor Landon reveals the drama and terror of Machiavelli's life and world, including his relationships to the city of Florence, the powerful Medici family, and the villainous Cesare Borgia (Machiavelli's ideal prince).

For those who have already heard The Prince, prepare to engage with the text on a deeper level than ever before. And for those who've always wanted to listen to this important book, this is your introduction to one man's revolutionary beliefs about achieving - and maintaining - power.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2016 The Great Courses (P)2016 The Teaching Company, LLC

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (200 )
5 star
 (136)
4 star
 (43)
3 star
 (10)
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4.6 (176 )
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Story
4.6 (177 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Cherie Teasdale 03-21-17 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    "Dazzling"

    Professor Landon is a dazzling lecturer. He effectively weaves the life and story of Nicolo Machiavelli, the person, and his book, The Prince, with the broader geopolitical events of the Italian peninsula and the burgeoning religious wars in Europe, which ensconced his thought and work.

    Professor Landon is not an apologist for The Prince. I would call him an intimate biographer of Nicolo, while drawing on the discipline of historiography to measure the ever evolving influence. He also draws on the work of others to bring greater depth and a broader lense to his subject matter.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pandora Victoria, British Columbia, Canada 09-27-16
    Pandora Victoria, British Columbia, Canada 09-27-16 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Fascinating Primer for the Curious Reader"

    Machiavelli's name, when dropped, never fails to intimidate, impressing upon all listening that the speaker must really know their stuff. Nodding, feigning understanding, each then scuttles away, making a mental memo to google the aforementioned historical character and gain this super power for themselves. But the enjoyment of Machiavelli's trademark adjective was overshadowed by that of his life and story within the first few minutes of this book. In truth, the very fact that no one really seems to know too much about Machiavelli, which I had expected to lend me such conversational auctoritas (if you will), is now a torture, as this series left me eager to talk about him. It's made me, I suppose you could say, a fan! The lecturer clearly has a strong affection for the man, which adds to the pleasure of listening. I have yet to read the Prince itself, hoping first to find a primer for the material before making the attempt. This book is exactly what I had hoped, and comes highly recommended! My one regret is not looking into this fascinating and important thinker sooner.

    9 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy J. Gannon 02-04-17 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Delightful learning experience"

    I learned a lot of history and context and culture in this lecture series. I began with some knowledge but found the text too dense. I am better informed after this listen. The speaker's voice well modulated and paced.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RIO 01-25-17
    RIO 01-25-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "this was about the author"

    I first thought this would be a audio rendition of the book. instead it was about the author and the creation of this literary work. However it was a fascinating study of history.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mom 01-11-17
    Mom 01-11-17 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    5
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    "Great presentation of a complex book"

    Would recommend this presentation of the Prince. The author gives a great historical perspective as well as compares views of the same book from many different sources/ characters/authors

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justin R. 10-07-16
    Justin R. 10-07-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "excellent"

    this is the best narrator I've had yet. the subject matter is also great if you want to learn more about pre unified Italy

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evan Thomas Hicks 11-11-16 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Thorough and enlightening"

    Professor Landon's enthusiasm for The Prince and its author is evident throughout the lectures, which are concise, entertaining, and always educational. He explores the text of the book and its meanings, along with the historical context of Machiavelli's life, his personal biography, and the book's history and influence after its author's death. Truly a wonderful experience.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    drewdpeabody 11-10-17 Member Since 2014
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    18
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    "Too much other stuff"

    This exhaustively researched title covers essentially the life of Niccolo Machiavelli, the 16th century Florentine philosopher whose infamous book The Prince has been revered for centuries. It's practical advice which ignores conventional morality has been a guide for tyrants throughout history for its advice for fooling your subjects into loving you. Without getting into the various arguments of this book, my reason for giving only three stars is what I said in the first paragraph applies. The content of the book is too short for talking about for 24 lectures so a large amount of lecture time is spent on background and Machiavelli's motivation. This title would be better as 16 lectures. Be warned.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Loeb Caldenhof 09-20-17 Member Since 2011
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    "Extreme disappointment"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Fundamentalist Christian moralists and other uncritical idealists and hypocrites.


    What was most disappointing about The Great Courses’s story?

    I was expecting a deep academical analysis of the book, its author, historical period and impact on the world, a la Quentin Skinner and Norberto Bobbio. Instead, it turned into a moralist critique of the worst sort that totally misses the point of the Prince.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The reading itself was quite good, but reducing the readers moralist and sentimental intonations would make it better.


    Any additional comments?

    Very disappointing for a "great courses" book. I hope there will be another title in the series that deals with the subject matter in a more objective and scientific manner.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rook501 09-07-17
    Rook501 09-07-17 Member Since 2017
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    28
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    "Enlightening"

    This lecture was full of information and I beleive myself to have become a much mire informed person after having consumed the knowledge in this course.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Robert Sciberras
    11/30/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "excellent overview of the Prince."

    The lecture series supports understanding and gives context to The Prince, which is mostly impenetrable when read raw.

    The delivery is pleasant.

    The organisation of ideas flows logically and is very engaging.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Steve
    United Kingdom
    1/20/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Didn't get it"

    I get Machiavelli try to see the world as it is and do what he thought was necessary to get what he wanted, but how does that make him a genius? The author tells that Machiavelli is such a genius but does not show it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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