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Publisher's Summary

This classic work of political theory and practice offers an account of the modern Machiavellians, a remarkable group who have been influential in Europe and practically unknown in the United States. The book devotes a long section to Machiavelli himself as well as to such modern Machiavellians as Gaetano Mosca, Georges Sorel, Robert Michels and Vilfredo Pareto. Burnham contends that the writings of these men hold the key both to the truth about politics and to the preservation of political liberty.
©1943 James Burnham (P)1998 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Burnham is the greatest political analyst of our century and this is his best book." ( National Review, 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of the Century)

What listeners say about The Machiavellians

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Fine intro to an authentic science of politics

The "Machiavellian" writers Burnham discusses span a rather diverse spectrum of views. What they have in common is an objective, scientific approach to politics that avoids allowing wishful thinking, or ideas about what ought to be, to impede their discernment of the way things actually are.

I disagreed with Burnham's tendency to dismiss religious ideas as inherently irrationalist. Also, his attempt at clarification in response to Machiavelli's reputation ignores the fact that Machiavelli did, after all, offer some amoral advice, not just non-moral analysis. While some of Burnhams predictions proved correct only in the short run, his method contains within itself the the capacity for self-correction, which is part of the whole point of the book.

This book remains invaluable for all who seek to develop a scientific understanding of politics, regardless of their philosophical persuasion.

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Serious political science

The narration could drone, but the content was excellent. Many sections worth re-listening to and bookmarking. Filled with political myth busting and strategies and structures for preserving liberty in the real world.

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Vry Insightful

An honest and realistic investigation of political science. Well narrated. A must read for all serious political philosophy students.

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hmmmm

I was pleasantly surprised at the history of Machiavelli himself, and enjoyed that part.

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A must read to humble the politically literate.

Nothing like another point of view to make you realise how little you know.

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  • DM
  • 10-20-20

great book, learned a ton

changed my mind on a lot of things I thought were absolutes. freedom is hard to find, keep, and defend. it is precious and very hard to keep.

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Great content and narration

The content is great, even if, as the author admits in the preface, there are slight overstatements here and there. The spirit of the project is worth engaging in. And I was surprised by how good the narration is. The narrator is obviously well acquainted with the content.

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Incredibly insightful

This book attempts to lay the foundations for a scientific theory of politics and society. The theories presented mostly come from the Italian school of elitism. The author additionally applies his framework to modern times (1940s for him) to briefly describe the revolution that the world had experienced over the previous 70 years. This book is unusual in that it attempts to apply a materialist scientific lens to class structure and elite rule but it does so from a center right (somewhat libertarian) perspective. Historically attempts at a scientific analysis of class struggle have come from the left. This book is definitely worth reading for anyone looking for a unique perspective on politics and freedom.

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Mediocrity

The best use of time would be to read Machiavelli. Mediocre academics only serves the academics.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Alex Kaschuta
  • 07-06-20

Most important book on politics

Absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in the nature of the political animal and how the world actually works.