A Biography

Book - 2011
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Baker & Taylor
An authoritative exploration of the Florentine intellectual includes coverage of his relationships with contemporaries ranging from Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo to Cesare Borgia and Pope Alexander VI, his personal philosophies about power and violence and the legacy of such written works as The Prince. By the author of Magnifico.

Blackwell Publishing
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.

Niccolò Machiavelli, Florentine diplomat and civil servant, is the father of political science. His most notorious work, The Prince, is a primer on how to acquire and retain power without regard to scruple or conscience. His other masterpiece, The Discourses, offers a profound analysis of the workings of the civil state and a hardheaded assessment of human nature.

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. 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 closely studying 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 finest 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 pious 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.

& Taylor

Examines the life of the Florentine intellectual, his relationships with contemporaries ranging from Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo to Cesare Borgia and Pope Alexander VI, his philosophies about power, and the legacy of The Prince.

Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2011
Edition: 1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed
ISBN: 9781416556282
Branch Call Number: B MACHIAVELLI
Characteristics: 400 p. : ill. (some col.), maps ; 25 cm


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Jan 12, 2017

This well researched and scholarly work is more than biography; it’s a brief history of renaissance Europe particularly Italy. Besides politics, the author touches on art, religion, family and social convention. The book is well worth reading. Great job, Mr. Unger!
Machiavelli was neither saint nor demon. He was a pragmatist... the father of pragmatists. He described man as he found them. He said, “...all men are wicked and... will always give vent to the malignity that is in their minds when opportunity offers.” We dislike both this characterization and the person who would so characterize us. Others spoke of how to rule justly while in power; Mr. M. of the how to rule effectively and remain in power, whether in a dictatorship or a republic. He believes that the end justifies the means—even lies, pretense, treachery if unavoidable—as long as the end is desirable. The man, if not a Stoic was certainly stoical. Look at how he faced his imprisonment and torture.
Machiavelli is not for the squeamish. The author says of Machiavellian-style politics, “Those concerned for their immortal souls might want to find a different line of work.” As I read, my mind kept running back to the recent election south of the border. I shall watch Mr. Trump and see if Machiavelli’s influence is seen in the new President’s leadership style.


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