web site hit counter Machiavelli: A Biography - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Machiavelli: A Biography

Availability: Ready to download

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 conscienc 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.


Compare

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 conscienc 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.

30 review for Machiavelli: A Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”Leaving the woods, I go to a spring, and then to one of the spots where I hang my bird nets. In my arms I carry a book: Dante, Petrarch, or one of those minor poets like Tibullus, Ovid. I read of their amorous passions and their loves and recall my own, and lose myself for a while in these happy thoughts.” Machiavelli Niccolo Machiavelli lived in an exciting and tumultuous time in Florentine history. The city state was fraught with invasion, regime change, political intrigue, the crazed monk ”Leaving the woods, I go to a spring, and then to one of the spots where I hang my bird nets. In my arms I carry a book: Dante, Petrarch, or one of those minor poets like Tibullus, Ovid. I read of their amorous passions and their loves and recall my own, and lose myself for a while in these happy thoughts.” Machiavelli Niccolo Machiavelli lived in an exciting and tumultuous time in Florentine history. The city state was fraught with invasion, regime change, political intrigue, the crazed monk Savonarola, the Medicis, an explosion of art from Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and many other amazing artists. It was an enthralling time to be alive. What Miles J. Unger did with this book was attempt to bring to life a more vivid image of Machiavelli. He had been cast as the Finger of Satan, as well as credited with being the father of political science. Was he a great philosopher, or was he a man giving credence to the very worst impulses of those trying to hold onto power? Dictators, such as Hitler and Stalin, routinely used his writing to justify their own crimes against humanity. ”All Machiavell’s experience told him that life was unpredictable, and politics--which is merely life played out on a greater stage and for higher stakes--even more so; that well-meaning rulers (like Piero Soderini) might forfeit the confidence of their citizens while ruthless tyrants (like Valentino) could win the loyalty of theirs.” Valentino was of course Cesare Borgia, the infamous son of Pope Alexander VI, who came down through history as one of the most notorious tyrants. When young, Borgia was a handsome man. Later, after syphilis ravaged his body, he was an object lesson in beauty becoming the beast. His father, always an unrepentant fornicator as a cardinal, continued his wayward ways even as pope. He would have scores of whores brought into the Vatican for epic orgies that would have rivaled any spectacle conceived by the Roman emperors. Let’s just say that Cesare was raised in an environment conducive to bad behavior. Machiavelli was frequently sent on foreign missions on behalf of Florence to foreign courts, and on one trip he spent a considerable amount of time in the company of Cesare Borgia. He became the basis for his most famous book,The Prince. Now Valentino was only able to stay in power as long as his father was pope, but once Alexander VI died, he was unable to hold onto the kingdom he had carved out for himself. In theory, Valentino may have fit the profile that Machiavelli believed was the best avenue to hold onto power, but in reality his methods were useless without the power of the papacy. Cesare Borgia Duke of Valentinois. After one of the regime changes in Florence, Machiavelli found himself out of work. He was thrown out of office: ”’Casssaverunt, privaverant et totaliter amoverunt’ (Dismissed, deprived, and totally removed).” A year later, he was brought up on conspiracy charges and tortured. He was subjected to the rope drop where the subjects hands were tied behind his back and he was dropped by a rope tied to his hands that dislocated his shoulders. This induced excruciating pain. Machiavelli considered these unfortunate circumstances a character building opportunity. He did not confess to the crimes he was accused of and was released three weeks later. This would be the first of many close shaves he would have up until his death. He was a man blunt in his opinions, which made him enemies that he could ill afford. He saw himself as apolitical and thought that he should be allowed to serve the state no matter who was in charge. He wanted to be the best public servant he could be to his city. He stated how he felt very simply:”I love my city more than my soul.” It doesn’t matter how smart or useful or experienced you are, as we routinely see in the United States. What is important is whether you have a D or an R after your name, and how well you do in the political system has to do with which party is in power at the time. A man like Machiavelli, who would be honest in his opinions and would base those opinions on historical knowledge, would be invaluable to any government. He had brief flurries of getting back into politics after his dismissal, but he spent the majority of he rest of his life on his family farm writing plays, essays, and books, siring children he could ill afford to feed, and leading a rather free, devious existence in the taverns and bordellos. The amorous passions he sighed over in the quote that I started this review with were not regarding his wife, but the many lovely whores he had known throughout his life. He certainly still visited the bedsheets of his wife, given the children that kept arriving, but when he thought with nostalgia of the lovely attributes of women, he was remembering the visits he had made to experience the exquisite charms of those women of lost virtue. Machiavelli loved books almost as much as he loved women. If only he could have propped a book in the cleft of a plump whore’s bottom, he probably would have been as close to heaven as he would ever reach on earth. How bad can a guy be who loves books that much? He was not a virtuous role model, but I couldn’t help appreciating his devil may care attitude and his belief that man can only rise so far above his baser instincts. He was well aware that civilization had not tamed the beast in men, but only caged it. If any weakness or deviation was shown by those in power that inspired fear or perceived opportunity, men became a mob of unprincipled creatures. Despite his own personal failings and the uses his bolder ascertains in The Prince have been put to in the name of cruelty, I couldn’t help but like him, or maybe more accurately appreciate him. He was in search of truth through honesty, and that always kept him in the crosshairs of his detractors. It has been decades since I read The Prince, but I remember the good advice in the book on how to be a ruler/manager that didn’t involve the more ruthless elements for which Machiavelli was best known. He was only advocating the more extreme responses in the face of grave danger to an administration. His books were banned at various times throughout history. He was nearly relegated to the dustbin at numerous times as well, but in the end he was immortalized as the ultimate villain to many, but to scholars he had proven to be an infinite source of delight. He had a quintessential mind that is impossible to ignore. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jason Goetz

    With most biographies of literary artists, there are three major categories in which the author can succeed or fail: 1) in giving context to the life and times of the author in terms of how they shaped his perceptions; 2) in dealing with the ideas that the author himself discusses in his works; and 3) in examining the author's works and legacy in the train of other great works of similar or equal merit. I feel quite strongly that this biography succeeds greatly in the first, but has significant l With most biographies of literary artists, there are three major categories in which the author can succeed or fail: 1) in giving context to the life and times of the author in terms of how they shaped his perceptions; 2) in dealing with the ideas that the author himself discusses in his works; and 3) in examining the author's works and legacy in the train of other great works of similar or equal merit. I feel quite strongly that this biography succeeds greatly in the first, but has significant limitations with the other two, aspects of this approach. The context which Unger gives on Machiavelli's life, on the convoluted geopolitics of Italy and Western Europe at the time, on the social and religious worlds he lived in, and on the Florentine political system are all magnificent. For clarifying many aspects of Florentine Histories alone, I give Unger a ton of credit. But when he gets into the realm of political theory, Machiavelli's strongest field, Unger falters. Repeatedly he conflates the terms democracy and republic, and he fails to distinguish between different kinds of representative systems. To a careless reader this may not mean much, but to sophisticated and engaged readers of Machiavelli's works--especially his great Discourses on Livy--this means a great deal. Is Machiavelli closer to Rousseau, or to Locke? To Jefferson, or to Madison? If he has no fixed moral "principles"--and certainly it is clear he does not, just as all four of those do not--then which route does he take? (He also did not mention Milton and the English Civil War at all, thereby avoiding mentioning the first consistent attempted application of Machiavelli's ideas on a nation-state level in Europe.) Additionally, Unger's discussion of the ancients and of political theory before Machiavelli was grossly distorted. While it is understood that many of the ancients did not participate in politics themselves as bureaucrats, it is by no means clear, as Unger seems to establish for himself, that they were removed from the political sphere and could only focus on "ideal" government in an impractical manner. Like Machiavelli, many of the ancients' heads were on the chopping blocks, so to speak, when their ideas went out of favor; Socrates was murdered under the pretense of "justice," Aristotle was exiled, Xenophon was exiled, Thucydides was exiled, Boethius was handed the same fate (if more violent) as Socrates, as was Cicero (former consul and Senator), Tacitus was a Roman Senator, and so on. It is also by no means accurate that they were "simpler" than Machiavelli or that their ideas were too "moral." Their lines of thought were different, but, especially in the cases of Tacitus and Thucydides, they laid the foundation for Machiavelli's by giving him lots of factual material with subtle and understated interpretations which he would later adopt. In order to understand with any clarity where Machiavelli's works fit in and where they are different, it is important to understand the depth and range of the political philosophy of antiquity, and I felt that here that wasn't clear. One last quibble before I go: Unger repeatedly reuses the same quotations, which I hate because it means that the book could have been more concisely organized around those quotations themselves, in which case they'd only need to be placed once and then fully examined, as opposed to analyzing a fragment of one quote, then moving on to another, then to a third, then going back to the second, then back to the third, and back to the first, and back to the third again, and so on. That's a huge structural flaw--or if not a huge flaw in evidentiary application--and ought to be taken note of. On top of what I already said about it, it also means he's not using as much evidence as he should, and is falling back on the same pieces of evidence in places where others might be better served or where other evidence might contradict what he's already used. I really do not like that.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Steven Spector

    Tired of hearing the term "Machiavellian" thrown around to describe this and that, I threw caution to the wind and purchased this work. Please consider me a huge enthusiast both of the subject and for this book. NM was astute enough to work "the system," whatever that system was in place at the time. Sometimes he flourished; other times he was left at the bottom, all courtesy of the whims of those in power whether they be political, religious, or a conspiracy of both. If looking to read about a Tired of hearing the term "Machiavellian" thrown around to describe this and that, I threw caution to the wind and purchased this work. Please consider me a huge enthusiast both of the subject and for this book. NM was astute enough to work "the system," whatever that system was in place at the time. Sometimes he flourished; other times he was left at the bottom, all courtesy of the whims of those in power whether they be political, religious, or a conspiracy of both. If looking to read about a pseudo-deist figure similar to one Thomas Paine, NM would be a wise choice to consider.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Kniphfer

    This surely most be the best biography of Machiavelli ever written. It was surely the most readable in the sense that I learned a lot about this great philospher and how he viewed the world and the use of power. Fantastic book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    DaveA

    I don't normally read biographies. They're too dull. I like historical novels or biographical novels on the order of Irving Stone. I have to admit, though, that this book kept my interest. For those who like biographies, you'll probably love this. The book gave good historical context, and lots of information about Cesere Borja, Rodrigo Borga (Pope Alexander VI), Giuliano della Rovere (Pope Julius II), the Midici family, Leonardo da Vinci, Girolamo Savonarola, Charles V, various French kings, an I don't normally read biographies. They're too dull. I like historical novels or biographical novels on the order of Irving Stone. I have to admit, though, that this book kept my interest. For those who like biographies, you'll probably love this. The book gave good historical context, and lots of information about Cesere Borja, Rodrigo Borga (Pope Alexander VI), Giuliano della Rovere (Pope Julius II), the Midici family, Leonardo da Vinci, Girolamo Savonarola, Charles V, various French kings, and in general Renaissance Italy & Florence. It was a good read, and I intend to read more about these other Renaissance characters.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Falk

    Unger's biography of Machiavelli is really well written, and in several ways I thought it was even better than his earlier biography of Lorenzo de' Medici. Though I really liked that one, I was still a bit reluctant about getting this book, since it would necessarily involve a discussion of political science as well as pure biography. Still, for the most part, Unger has done a great job here. There are some exceptions to this though, e.g. the chapter titled 'The Prince', where Unger yields to th Unger's biography of Machiavelli is really well written, and in several ways I thought it was even better than his earlier biography of Lorenzo de' Medici. Though I really liked that one, I was still a bit reluctant about getting this book, since it would necessarily involve a discussion of political science as well as pure biography. Still, for the most part, Unger has done a great job here. There are some exceptions to this though, e.g. the chapter titled 'The Prince', where Unger yields to the temptation of offering his own take on Machiavelli’s most famous book, but not really in any systematic way. Here the writing gets a bit faltering and, to a degree, rambling. This is one of the longer chapters of the book (more than 30 pages) and since Unger isn't entirely in his element here, I actually found it quite tedious. It also breaks up the natural flow of the narrative, and almost seems to have been inserted into the book. It can actually well be skipped, as Unger makes plenty of references, usually providing quotes, to The Prince - as well as (of course) to the Discourses and Machiavelli’s other works, including his comedies - throughout the book, and generally this works out really well. However, at times, and as part of the discussion, Unger dismisses earlier philosophers in a way that shows more than merely a lack of appreciation, stating e.g. that "Plato, Aristotle (..) had dwelt in realms of abstract theory far from where men lived".. - Apart from this and a couple of other inaccuracies, and as well some typos (which are hopefully fixed in later editions; I read the hardcover, 2011 edition), this is a very engagingly written biography, which at times also skillfully succeeds in blending humour and seriousness in a way Machiavelli himself might well have approved of. It is clearly well researched, and Unger is an excellent guide to Renaissance Florence and the various other city-states of Italy and the power games of the time, involving not the least the consolidated European powers of France and Spain – and in the midst of this, Machiavelli himself, wryly observing it all and drawing his conclusions. Unger presents a vivid and compelling picture of the man and his times. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  7. 4 out of 5

    judy

    Sorry. You won't find the phrase "the end justifies the means" anywhere in Machiavelli's writings. You will find the idea and a very reasonable explanation why that phrase might be true. We all know this is the bad guy. Heck, The Prince made the Vatican's first do not read list. Except after reading this biography, I don't see him that way. He was a pragmatist and wrote things as they are--not how we would want them to be. I can't say this biography was fun but it does make one think in ways you Sorry. You won't find the phrase "the end justifies the means" anywhere in Machiavelli's writings. You will find the idea and a very reasonable explanation why that phrase might be true. We all know this is the bad guy. Heck, The Prince made the Vatican's first do not read list. Except after reading this biography, I don't see him that way. He was a pragmatist and wrote things as they are--not how we would want them to be. I can't say this biography was fun but it does make one think in ways you might not have thought before. Get a glass of wine or hot chocolate and sit down for a bit of mind-stretching.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chris Smith

    As most people I’ve always heard people say “that’s Machiavellian” or he’s Machiavellian” and sort of knew what they were referring to. But this past fall I visited Machiavelli’ summer home, Sant’ Andrea in Percussina. It is now a beautiful restaurant and remains basically the same as it was in 1490. Diner among the olive trees and beautiful flowers, I was told a brief history of this man and it caught my curiosity to learns about him and his philosophy of life and politics. This book gave me ex As most people I’ve always heard people say “that’s Machiavellian” or he’s Machiavellian” and sort of knew what they were referring to. But this past fall I visited Machiavelli’ summer home, Sant’ Andrea in Percussina. It is now a beautiful restaurant and remains basically the same as it was in 1490. Diner among the olive trees and beautiful flowers, I was told a brief history of this man and it caught my curiosity to learns about him and his philosophy of life and politics. This book gave me exactly what I was looking for and feel I now truly know “the rest of the story”

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brenna

    The reason I got through this entire book about a man who is - let's be honest - irrelevant to me, was because Unger's writing is phenomenal. He made the book a lot easier to read. This is the book you turn to when you need references for your Italian History of Politics paper. It's not the dry, boring book your teacher is expecting you to cite. It is colourfully worded, factual, and entertaining. I liked his writing so much that I bought Magnifico, another amazing biography by Unger. The reason I got through this entire book about a man who is - let's be honest - irrelevant to me, was because Unger's writing is phenomenal. He made the book a lot easier to read. This is the book you turn to when you need references for your Italian History of Politics paper. It's not the dry, boring book your teacher is expecting you to cite. It is colourfully worded, factual, and entertaining. I liked his writing so much that I bought Magnifico, another amazing biography by Unger.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Morris

    When I picked up a copy of this biography I was seriously excited. Unger’s biography of Lorenzo de’ Medici was excellent and has to be one of my favourite biographies of all time. So I had high hopes for this book. And unfortunately the book didn’t really meet my expectations. Now then, that’s not to say the book is bad. Oh no. I would say that the first three quarters of it are outstanding – Unger has used his extensive knowledge of the Italian Renaissance alongside Machiavelli’s own works and o When I picked up a copy of this biography I was seriously excited. Unger’s biography of Lorenzo de’ Medici was excellent and has to be one of my favourite biographies of all time. So I had high hopes for this book. And unfortunately the book didn’t really meet my expectations. Now then, that’s not to say the book is bad. Oh no. I would say that the first three quarters of it are outstanding – Unger has used his extensive knowledge of the Italian Renaissance alongside Machiavelli’s own works and other primary sources to tell the exciting story of Machiavelli’s early life. We learn how Machiavelli rose through the ranks of the Florentine government to become Second Chancellor, and how he found himself rubbing shoulders with some of the most famous and influential men (and women!) of the time. I was particularly interested in the time that Machiavelli spent in the court of Cesare Borgia – who Unger seems to mainly call ‘Valentino’, based on Borgia’s nickname – and the respect that Machiavelli had for the man. In fact I will say that had this biography finished with Machiavelli’s fall from grace and his arrest, that it would be one of the greatest biographies of Machiavelli out there. However I feel as though the last part of the book really let it down. Whilst I understand that it’s important to analyse Machiavelli’s works – The Prince and the Discourses being the main ones – Unger seemed to go on about these works, delving into them in such great detail, for far too long. It read like something I would have to study back at A-Level or something, picking apart and analysing every little bit of these admittedly fantastic works. And sadly I found myself growing rather bored by it all. Though I will admit that I was interested in how Machiavelli used his down time away from the city to work on these pieces and how he thought his diatribe in The Prince would win him back favour. Sadly for Machiavelli, it was the book that would have him being vilified for hundreds of years. This book then, is a book of two parts. Would I recommend it? Yes, I would. But I would warn readers to be wary of the time Unger spends discussing Machiavelli’s works towards the end of his life. This book is perfect for anyone interested in both the history of this wonderful man and the sort of work that he did – I will certainly be using it in my own current project. Up until the end of the book I would have given it four stars – however the slight let down at the end has me dropping to three, which is a great shame.

  11. 5 out of 5

    K.S.

    One of the Renaissance’s most reviled and controversial philosophers is resurrected, fleshed out, and analyzed in the context of his times and devotion to Florence. A concise look at his writings and life, bringing with it a playful humour which was as much as part of this famous man as his cynicism. I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as I did ‘Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces’, which may be as much a matter of personal taste as to do with the quality of the biography itself. This book re One of the Renaissance’s most reviled and controversial philosophers is resurrected, fleshed out, and analyzed in the context of his times and devotion to Florence. A concise look at his writings and life, bringing with it a playful humour which was as much as part of this famous man as his cynicism. I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as I did ‘Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces’, which may be as much a matter of personal taste as to do with the quality of the biography itself. This book remained lively, entertaining, and a delightful way to absorb historical information. I’ve read two biographies by Miles J. Unger and I’m engrossed in a third. His works are a delightful introduction to Italian history and the Italian Renaissance. I’m eager for more!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kari Trenten

    One of the Renaissance’s most reviled and controversial philosophers is resurrected, fleshed out, and analyzed in the context of his times and devotion to Florence. A concise look at his writings and life, bringing with it a playful humour which was as much as part of this famous man as his cynicism. I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as I did ‘Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces’, which may be as much a matter of personal taste as to do with the quality of the biography itself. This book re One of the Renaissance’s most reviled and controversial philosophers is resurrected, fleshed out, and analyzed in the context of his times and devotion to Florence. A concise look at his writings and life, bringing with it a playful humour which was as much as part of this famous man as his cynicism. I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as I did ‘Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces’, which may be as much a matter of personal taste as to do with the quality of the biography itself. This book remained lively, entertaining, and a delightful way to absorb historical information. I’ve read two biographies by Miles J. Unger and I’m engrossed in a third. His works are a delightful introduction to Italian history and the Italian Renaissance. I’m eager for more!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Callum Philbin

    Very interesting biography, largely because of the intricacies of his own life, but also because of the various events unfolding in Renaissance Italy during his life time. The biographer takes a nuanced look at Machiavelli's life and his works in context; offering a comprehensive analysis that encapsulates a multifaceted figure. At times the Renaissance world and Machiavelli's life reads like Game of Thrones and I found this book a real page turner. Worth a read for anyone looking to gain a grea Very interesting biography, largely because of the intricacies of his own life, but also because of the various events unfolding in Renaissance Italy during his life time. The biographer takes a nuanced look at Machiavelli's life and his works in context; offering a comprehensive analysis that encapsulates a multifaceted figure. At times the Renaissance world and Machiavelli's life reads like Game of Thrones and I found this book a real page turner. Worth a read for anyone looking to gain a greater understanding of political philosophy and/or Renaissance history!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ramus1

    Good to read

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This was good but not nearly as good as Unger's Lorenzo the Magnificent biography. The author was passionate about his subject and thorough in his research but this book would have benefitted by a far harsher editing than it received. The timeline felt a little scattered, which is nearly a cardinal sin in a biography as that's how time is kept in the book. There were also points that were made, clearly and well made, and then reiterated in a way that felt superfluous two or three pages later whi This was good but not nearly as good as Unger's Lorenzo the Magnificent biography. The author was passionate about his subject and thorough in his research but this book would have benefitted by a far harsher editing than it received. The timeline felt a little scattered, which is nearly a cardinal sin in a biography as that's how time is kept in the book. There were also points that were made, clearly and well made, and then reiterated in a way that felt superfluous two or three pages later which was unnecessary. Overall, it was enjoyable but could have been easily reduced by 50 or so pages to make a much tighter, more compelling book. I particularly like how Unger presented the nuance of Machiavelli's character.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Zach Vaughn

    I am grateful that Miles Unger has written this new biography of Machiavelli which reveals much about his life, as well as addressing the many mischaracterizations of the man and his work. Unger shows us, through Machiavelli’s letters to his friends and colleagues, that the man so often identified as an unscrupulous tutor of tyrants was a dedicated republican motivated by an unfailing patriotism (for Florence specifically, and Italy more generally). Mr Unger shows us that those who judge Machiave I am grateful that Miles Unger has written this new biography of Machiavelli which reveals much about his life, as well as addressing the many mischaracterizations of the man and his work. Unger shows us, through Machiavelli’s letters to his friends and colleagues, that the man so often identified as an unscrupulous tutor of tyrants was a dedicated republican motivated by an unfailing patriotism (for Florence specifically, and Italy more generally). Mr Unger shows us that those who judge Machiavelli solely on the basis of The Prince and their interpretation of it are missing the man.This biography also demonstrates an aspect of Machiavelli - the aspect which has always drawn me to Machiavelli - crucial to his entire outlook: his study of politics from the stand point of the lessons of history (ancient or contemporary) for an understanding of how the art/science of politics is actually conducted, as well as the nature of how man is, rather than how he should be. Miles Unger also illuminates an aspect of Machiavelli’s life and work which is often ignored: his plays, poetry and fictional works. Machiavelli’s observations about life and overall philosophy, which can be found his political volumes, are found in these humorous observations about the world. Perhaps his most famous play is La Mandragola (The Mandrake) [pdf]. You cannot find this in any bookstore, although you can readily find the plays of Ayn Rand (an unfortunate situation on many accounts, imho). There is also his short novel Belphagor about a devil who comes to Earth and marries to discover if women are to blame for men’s troubles. In all his works, Machiavelli pulls back the curtain and shows us (or rather, at the time, Florentines and Italians) who we really are with all our faults. For me, this biography offered a new perspective, and if I dare say, a justification of my own opinions, of this demonized philosopher of whom I have become most enamoured.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Pam Doyle

    I just finished reading Machiavelli A Biography by Miles Under and thought it was an excellent book. The book fully described Machiavelli, his life and times. I read this book because I wanted to learn more about Machiavelli after reading The Artist, The Philosopher and The Warrior: DaVinci, Machiavelli and Borgia and The World They Shaped by Paul Strathern. It was a fascinating account of how the three men crossed paths between 1498 - 1512-ish. Ungers book goes more into the life and philosophy I just finished reading Machiavelli A Biography by Miles Under and thought it was an excellent book. The book fully described Machiavelli, his life and times. I read this book because I wanted to learn more about Machiavelli after reading The Artist, The Philosopher and The Warrior: DaVinci, Machiavelli and Borgia and The World They Shaped by Paul Strathern. It was a fascinating account of how the three men crossed paths between 1498 - 1512-ish. Ungers book goes more into the life and philosophy of Machiavelli. I also read Magnifico several years ago and knew Unger was a good and readable author. I had fun learning about one of my favorite authors. Excellent book if you are interested in Renaissance Florence and Machiavelli!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    this book was definitely very informative and good-written. Many an unexpected sides of Machiavelli came to light. I was astonished to learn that St Nick, the devil, takes his name after Niccolo Machiavelli! At the same time, I felt that there were too many repetitions, both quotes and ideas. The author kept reiterating the same points over and over. The book could have been 70-80 pages shorter without any detriment to its contents

  19. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Kukwa

    Concise yet luxurious, this is two thirds biography, and one third political/historical/literary analysis. It's a fantastic combination of history & political science...everything I loved about my university education, and everything that fires my imagination about the past. Philosophical historical & political writing that leaves the reader extremely satisfying. Machiavelli himself would undoubtedly approve. Concise yet luxurious, this is two thirds biography, and one third political/historical/literary analysis. It's a fantastic combination of history & political science...everything I loved about my university education, and everything that fires my imagination about the past. Philosophical historical & political writing that leaves the reader extremely satisfying. Machiavelli himself would undoubtedly approve.

  20. 4 out of 5

    เนติวิทย์ โชติภัทร์ไพศาล

    หนังสือชีวประวัติของนักคิดมาเคียแวลลี ซึ่งถูกมองให้เป็นปีศาจแห่งอุดมการณ์ทางการเมืองมาอย่างยาวนาน Unger ช่วยทำให้เราเห็นว่าภาพดังกล่าวนั้นแทบจะตรงข้ามกับชีวิตที่มากสีสันและ เยาะเย้ยตัวเองของเขา เร็วๆนี้ผมคงจะไปอ่าน The Prince ซึ่งหนังสือเล่มนี้จะเป็นคู่หู ที่ต้องอ่านไปด้วยอีกหลายๆรอบทีเดียว บันเทิงและเต็มไปด้วยข้อมูลน่าสนใจ

  21. 4 out of 5

    Colin Myles

    A book which gave a greater understanding of the man,his work and how it influenced his writing. All put into context in the times Machiavelli was living in.The use of his private letters gives a broader view of the times and the man. If you like Machiavelli's work but would like to know more about the man himself,then I highly recommend this book. A book which gave a greater understanding of the man,his work and how it influenced his writing. All put into context in the times Machiavelli was living in.The use of his private letters gives a broader view of the times and the man. If you like Machiavelli's work but would like to know more about the man himself,then I highly recommend this book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Connor Pritchard

    Machiavelli wasn't exceptional in any way, but his life story is truly fascinating. As a merchant of truth (and lies), he saw right through all the BS and explained the world as is: an endless power struggle with a revolving door of flawed characters. Love this bio and the author's writing style. Machiavelli wasn't exceptional in any way, but his life story is truly fascinating. As a merchant of truth (and lies), he saw right through all the BS and explained the world as is: an endless power struggle with a revolving door of flawed characters. Love this bio and the author's writing style.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    This book is the perfect primer for The Prince and is a great read in its own right. Machiavelli was a creature of his times and this book puts a positive spin on his legacy, while at the same time remaining interesting.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Herndon

    In his Machiavelli: A Biography, Miles J. Unger has produced a superb biography of maybe the most misunderstood of political writers -Niccolò Machiavelli. I recommend that you add it to your reading list to get a much better understanding of this most complicated of men.

  25. 4 out of 5

    frē

    Een genuanceerd beeld van het enfant terrible van de politieke wetenschap tijdens de laatste stuiptrekkingen van Florence als onafhankelijke stad-staat. Boeiend.

  26. 4 out of 5

    J

    Great biography of a controversial man

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dan Potvin

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pedram

  30. 5 out of 5

    Annabel Fielding

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.