Now in Stores - Machiavelli: A Biography
"This is a superb biography, of interest to anybody...trying to get along in the contemporary world." Read More
He is the most infamous and influential political writer of all time. His name has
become synonymous with cynical scheming and the selfish pursuit of power.
Niccolo Machiavelli, the Florentine diplomat and civil servant, is the father of
political science. The Prince, his most notorious work, is a primer on how to acquire
and retain power without regard to scruple or conscience. His Discourses offers a
profound analysis of the workings of the civil state and a hard-headed assessment of
Machiavelli's philosophy was shaped by the tumultuous age in which he
lived, an age of towering geniuses and brutal tyrants. He was on intimate terms with
Leonardo and Michelangelo, and his first political mission was to spy on the fire-and-
brimstone preacher Savonarola. As a diplomat, he matched wits with the corrupt
and carnal Pope Alexander VI, and his son, the notorious Cesare Borgia whose
violent career served as a model for The Prince. His insights were gleaned by
studying up close men like Julius II, the "Warrior Pope" and his successor, the
vacillating Clement VII, as well as two kings of France and the Holy Roman Emperor.
Analyzing their successes and failures, Machiavelli developed his revolutionary
approach to power politics.
Machiavelli was, above all, a student of human nature. In The Prince he wrote
a practical guide to the aspiring politician that is based on the world as it is, not as it
should be. He has been called cold and calculating, cynical and immoral. In reality,
argues biographer Miles Unger, he was a deeply humane writer whose controversial
theories were a response to the violence and corruption he saw around him. He was
a psychologist with acute insight into human nature centuries before Freud. A
brilliant and witty writer, he was not only a political theorist but also a poet and the
author of La Mandragola, the greatest comedy of the Italian Renaissance. He has
been called the first modern man, unafraid to contemplate a world without God.
Rising from modest beginnings on the strength of his own talents, he was able to see
through the piety and hypocrisy of the age in which he lived.
Miles Unger has relied on original Italian sources as well as his own deep
knowledge of Florence in writing this fascinating and authoritative account of a
genius whose work remains as relevant today as when he wrote it.
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