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FINALIST--2008 PEN TRANSLATION PRIZE In The Essential Writings of Machiavelli, Peter Constantine has assembled a comprehensive collection that shows the true depth and breadth of a great Renaissance thinker. Refreshingly accessible, these superb new translations are faithful to Machiavelli’s original, beautifully crafted writings. The volume features essays that appear in En FINALIST--2008 PEN TRANSLATION PRIZE In The Essential Writings of Machiavelli, Peter Constantine has assembled a comprehensive collection that shows the true depth and breadth of a great Renaissance thinker. Refreshingly accessible, these superb new translations are faithful to Machiavelli’s original, beautifully crafted writings. The volume features essays that appear in English for the first time, such as “A Caution to the Medici” and “The Persecution of Africa.” Also included are complete versions of the political treatise, The Prince, the comic satire The Mandrake, The Life of Castruccio Castracani, and the classic story “Belfagor”, along with selections from The Discourses, The Art of War, and Florentine Histories. Augmented with useful features–vital and concise annotations and cross-references–this unique compendium is certain to become the standard one-volume reference to this influential, versatile, and ever timely writer. “Machiavelli's stress on political necessity rather than moral perfection helped inspire the Renaissance by renewing links with Thucydides and other classical thinkers. This new collection provides deeper insight into Machiavelli’s personality as a writer, thus broadening our understanding of him.” –Robert D. Kaplan, author of Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos  “Constantine’s selection is not only intelligent; his translations are astonishingly good. Thoughtfully introduced by Albert Russell Ascoli, this edition belongs in everyone’s library.” –John Jeffries Martin, professor and chair, department of history, Trinity University “If one were to assign a single edition of Machiavelli's works, this most certainly would be it.” –John P. McCormick, professor, department of political science, University of Chicago From the Trade Paperback edition.


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FINALIST--2008 PEN TRANSLATION PRIZE In The Essential Writings of Machiavelli, Peter Constantine has assembled a comprehensive collection that shows the true depth and breadth of a great Renaissance thinker. Refreshingly accessible, these superb new translations are faithful to Machiavelli’s original, beautifully crafted writings. The volume features essays that appear in En FINALIST--2008 PEN TRANSLATION PRIZE In The Essential Writings of Machiavelli, Peter Constantine has assembled a comprehensive collection that shows the true depth and breadth of a great Renaissance thinker. Refreshingly accessible, these superb new translations are faithful to Machiavelli’s original, beautifully crafted writings. The volume features essays that appear in English for the first time, such as “A Caution to the Medici” and “The Persecution of Africa.” Also included are complete versions of the political treatise, The Prince, the comic satire The Mandrake, The Life of Castruccio Castracani, and the classic story “Belfagor”, along with selections from The Discourses, The Art of War, and Florentine Histories. Augmented with useful features–vital and concise annotations and cross-references–this unique compendium is certain to become the standard one-volume reference to this influential, versatile, and ever timely writer. “Machiavelli's stress on political necessity rather than moral perfection helped inspire the Renaissance by renewing links with Thucydides and other classical thinkers. This new collection provides deeper insight into Machiavelli’s personality as a writer, thus broadening our understanding of him.” –Robert D. Kaplan, author of Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos  “Constantine’s selection is not only intelligent; his translations are astonishingly good. Thoughtfully introduced by Albert Russell Ascoli, this edition belongs in everyone’s library.” –John Jeffries Martin, professor and chair, department of history, Trinity University “If one were to assign a single edition of Machiavelli's works, this most certainly would be it.” –John P. McCormick, professor, department of political science, University of Chicago From the Trade Paperback edition.

30 review for The Essential Writings of Machiavelli (Modern Library Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    David

    Like others who've read this text I find it a very interesting and refreshing, if at times dry, look at the views of one of the foremost political theorists of all time. It also allows one to see the man, rather than the political theorist. My reading of this book has lead me to conclude, much like my reading of his 'Art of War', that those who use the term 'Machiavellian' and cite him as endorsing 'the ends justify the means' simply have no idea what he was about. Anyone who has actually read t Like others who've read this text I find it a very interesting and refreshing, if at times dry, look at the views of one of the foremost political theorists of all time. It also allows one to see the man, rather than the political theorist. My reading of this book has lead me to conclude, much like my reading of his 'Art of War', that those who use the term 'Machiavellian' and cite him as endorsing 'the ends justify the means' simply have no idea what he was about. Anyone who has actually read the Prince (among his shortest works) will see the story is far more complex than that. Let alone 'Discourses on Livy'. One of the aspects I enjoyed most was the letters at the end. A mix of both professional discourse and personal, it provided an interesting glimpse at this man's life and times. From these, he comes of at the end of his life as a generally bitter and cynical man. No small wonder, as he dies in exile after losing favor in the circles he walked for nearly 30 years. Take a good long time to read this, and depending on your goals find someone to discuss it with, particularly his treatises and political letters. I think that it will be a much more fruitful read this way. I did skip over several sections, trying to get an overall feel for his writings - though I may have to seek out a performance of his play, 'The Mandrake'.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jo Walton

    If you want one Machiavelli collection this is definitely the one. Ever since the first Ex Urbe post on Machiavelli, http://www.exurbe.com/?p=1429 in July 2012, I have been reading something by him. First I read the Florentine Histories. Then I read his letters. Then I re-read the Prince and the Discourses. Then I read this, which has parts of all of the above, plus a short story and a play and a few short bits I hadn't already read. In that time I've also read four biographies. Well, I guess the If you want one Machiavelli collection this is definitely the one. Ever since the first Ex Urbe post on Machiavelli, http://www.exurbe.com/?p=1429 in July 2012, I have been reading something by him. First I read the Florentine Histories. Then I read his letters. Then I re-read the Prince and the Discourses. Then I read this, which has parts of all of the above, plus a short story and a play and a few short bits I hadn't already read. In that time I've also read four biographies. Well, I guess there's still another play I haven't read. But I feel bereft. Well, re-reading is for always, thank goodness. Either you already love Machiavelli or you need to read the Ex Urbe posts about him and then read this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Steven Wendell

    A walk thru the mind of a genius An exceptional collection of works and letters by Machiavelli. I haven't enjoyed something so intelligently written since I read works by Cicero. 'The Prince' probably his most famous work was good, but I particularly enjoyed his 'Discourses' and 'Florentine Histories'. The letters to friends and colleagues were an interesting look into his lighter side of character which I also enjoyed. I cannot over state what an amazingly analytical and perceptive mind he had. A walk thru the mind of a genius An exceptional collection of works and letters by Machiavelli. I haven't enjoyed something so intelligently written since I read works by Cicero. 'The Prince' probably his most famous work was good, but I particularly enjoyed his 'Discourses' and 'Florentine Histories'. The letters to friends and colleagues were an interesting look into his lighter side of character which I also enjoyed. I cannot over state what an amazingly analytical and perceptive mind he had. He was a true genius I think with an uncanny understanding of human nature and behavior. I can't help but be impressed with his extensive knowledge of history that he used time and again for reference and comparison. I've never read any of Livy's histories before, but now I think it will be a must. I'm very happy to have made this purchase and know I will refer selections for years to come.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jim Robles

    Machiavelli is just amazingly timely on many current issues. Things have changed, but we have not. The fifteenth book I have finished this year. Also the fifteenth of thirty-six great books, in Professor Fears course, that I have finished in retirement. The Prince 3 of Mixed Principalities There is a great deal here that should have made us more careful with Iraq at every step. My reading is that Machiavelli would say that the greatest mistake was The Obama Administration's decision to pull out fr Machiavelli is just amazingly timely on many current issues. Things have changed, but we have not. The fifteenth book I have finished this year. Also the fifteenth of thirty-six great books, in Professor Fears course, that I have finished in retirement. The Prince 3 of Mixed Principalities There is a great deal here that should have made us more careful with Iraq at every step. My reading is that Machiavelli would say that the greatest mistake was The Obama Administration's decision to pull out from what was, in their own words, the very promising situation they inherited. The Prince 6 of Principalities Acquired Through Arms and Skill p. 23. Nothing is harder to do, more dubious to succeed at, or more dangerous to manage, than making oneself a ruler and introducing a new order. (see also p. 105) p. 24. This is why all armed prophets were successful, while all unarmed prophets came to ruin. The Prince 12 of the Different Types of Armies, and of Mercenaries p. 47. The primary foundation of all states - new, old, or mixed - is good laws and a good army. The Prince 14 of a Prince's Duties Concerning the Military p. 57. . . . a prince who does not understand military matters will not be respected by his soldiers and cannot trust them. The Prince 17 of Cruelty and Mercy, and Whether it Is Better to Be Loved than Feared, or the Contrary p. 65. . . . it is far safer to be feared than loved. The Prince 21 of What a Prince Should Do to Acquire Prestige p. 87. He must also make certain that his citizens can go about their work unhampered - in trade, agriculture, and all other professions - so that no one will be afraid of accumulating possessions our of fear that they might be taken away, or afraid of staring a business for fear of taxes. The Prince 25 on the Extent to Which Fortune Wields Power in the Affairs of Men, and on How This is to Be Resisted p. 94. . . . in order that our free will may prevail. p. 95. . . . because man cannot deviate from that to which nature inclines him. p. 96. . . . it is better to be impetuous than cautious, because Fortune is a woman, . . . The Prince 26 an Exhortation to Free Italy from the Barbarians p. 98. "The only war that is just is one that is compulsory, and weapons righteous when there is no hope but in weapons." The Discourses p. 101. . . . The Discourses are a vigorous championing of a republican form of government. The Discourses I Preface p. 106. . . . civil disputes . . . illness . . . we always turn to the decrees and remedies that the ancients pronounced or prescribed. The Discourses I Chapter One - On the Origins of Cities in General, and Rome in Particular p. 111. . . . the question arises whether it is not better to choose a barren site to found a city, so that its inhabitants are forced to work hard,and are less beset by idleness, and therefore live in harmony. This is the very argument of "Underdevelopment is a State of Mind." The Discourses I Chapter Two - On How Many Kinds of Republic There Are, and What Kind the Roman Republic Was The "Greek cycle" is explained on p. 115 - 117. The Discourses I Chapter Three - On the Incidents That Led to the creation of the Plebeian Tribunes in Rome, Which Made the Republic More Perfect p. 118. . . . all men are evil, . . . This chapter is very good on how business leaders become more socially responsible under threat (Communism in the 50's or income inequality now). The Discourses I Chapter 4 p. 122. And as Cicero says, the populace, thought ignorant, are capable of understanding the truth, and readily acquiesce when they are told the truth by a man worthy of trust. An interesting position between Protagoras and Lincoln. The Discourses I Chapter 6 misses the effect of the "new men" that arose from the physical empire. The Discourses I Chapter 9 p. 141. It is a general rule that rarely, if ever, has a republic or kingdom been set up well from the beginning, or had its old institutions entirely reformed, unless this was done by a single man. The Discourses 1 Chapter 11 p. 149. As the observance of religious worship is the reason for the greatness of a republic, so the contempt for religious worship is the reason for its ruin. The Discourses 1 Chapter 16 p. 158. In the annals of ancient history there are countless examples that demonstrate the difficulty a populace that is accustomed to living under a prince have in conserving their freedom should they by some chance obtain it, as the Romans did after the Tarquins were expelled. The Discourses 1 Chapter 23 The p. 168 introduction to Chapter Twenty-Four is great for football and misogyny. The Discourses 1 Chapter 50 p. 201. It demonstrates too that one should never establish an institution in a state that will enable the few to block a decision that might be vital in keeping the state from harm. Our Founding Fathers disagreed. We have an Executive Branch, a Senate, a House of Representatives, and a Supreme Court each of which has a veto to block decisions. I cannot find the reference, but there was a study that showed that income inequality correlates positively with the number of vetoes. Having as many as four, as we do, is quite rare. We were warned. Book 3 p. 257. As a result of this, the men of the Church can be as evil as they wish, because they do not fear a punishment they cannot see and do not believe in. p. 282. To show them that she did not care about her sons, she revealed her genitals, saying that she still had the means to produce more. The Art of War Book I p. 298. Do we not see in your Florentine history the many soldiers throughout Italy finding themselves without pay once wars ended, gather themselves into brigades called "companies," going around extolling money from cities, and plundering the land without anyone being able to do anything about it? This French 100 Years War experience, during 14th century, that led to the professionalization of the army, greatly increasing the power of the State. Machiavelli comes to a very different conclusion. On p. 300 - 301 he entirely misses that he is discussing the "new men" that arouse due to the expansion of the Roman (physical) Empire. Book II p. 309. And even though the flood of barbarians caused the Roman Empire to split into several parts, the skill the empire has amassed did not resurge: First it was a migration of settle agriculturists. Second the Romans won most of the battles. Book VII Florentine Histories p. 319. Even after Florence had expelled the Ghibellines in such numbers that Tuscany and Lombardy were filled with them, the Guelphs, along with those who remained in Florence, still . . . . Book III p. 327. The serious enmity between the populace and the nobles, which arises from the desire of the nobles to command and that of the populace not to obey, is the cause of all of evils that occur in a city. Book VIII p. 336. Francesco de' Pazzi and Count Girolamo spoke of their plan to Francesco Salivate, the archbishop of Pisa, who was exceedingly ambitious and hand recently been offended by the Medici. p. 355. On the Nature of the French On How to Treat the Populace of Valdichiana p. 360. The most enduring power is the state which has loyal subject who love their prince. Balfagor p. 393. . . . . all these souls, or most of them, protesting that it was only because they had taken wives that they had been brought to such grief. The Life of Castruccio Castranani p. 425. . . . and that God loved strong men because one could see that God always punished the weak through the strong. The Mandrake p. 436. And if this material, slight as it is, does not prove worthy of a playwright who wished to appear wise and grave, excuse him with this: that he is trying his utmost to lighten his misery, for he has nowhere else to turn, barred as he is from demonstrating his skills and abilities through worthier tasks, his labor is no longer prized. p. 457. Ligurio: You must persuade the abbess to have the girl drink a potion that will make her miscarry. Friar: I will have to give the matter some thought. Ligurio: Why do you need to? . . . and all the while you will harm noting but a bit of unborn, unfeeling flesh that could be eliminated in a thousand ways. . . . Friar: So be it, in the name of God! I shall do as you propose. . . . Letters p. 510. When evening comes I return home and go into my study. At the door I take off my everyday clothes, covered with mud and dirt, and don garments of court and palace. Now garbed fittingly I step into the ancient courts of men of antiquity, where, received kindly, I partake of food that is for me alone and for which I was born, where I am not ashamed to converse with them and ask them the reasons of their actions.

  5. 4 out of 5

    William Schram

    Machiavelli wrote several works but is most famous for the political treatise he named The Prince. I can't read Italian. Therefore, I have no preconceived notions of how this book should sound in a translation. I read The Prince before, but that was quite some time ago. The rest of these works are new to me. Machiavelli lived during a time of political upheaval, and his works reflect that. He looked back to the glory days of Rome. Machiavelli wrote several works but is most famous for the political treatise he named The Prince. I can't read Italian. Therefore, I have no preconceived notions of how this book should sound in a translation. I read The Prince before, but that was quite some time ago. The rest of these works are new to me. Machiavelli lived during a time of political upheaval, and his works reflect that. He looked back to the glory days of Rome.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Paschalis

    elibrary

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nicki

    I do so love political subterfuge, but more importantly I love the blatant honesty of his writing, or maybe in some places a certain lack thereof. I think people miss that this book was to serve a purpose for its author that it might not purely have been meant for advice to a Medici prince that in fact had put Machiavelli under torture and questioning prior to the writing of this book. I think very possible that the advice given here was in itself "Machiavellian" in nature and that while there r I do so love political subterfuge, but more importantly I love the blatant honesty of his writing, or maybe in some places a certain lack thereof. I think people miss that this book was to serve a purpose for its author that it might not purely have been meant for advice to a Medici prince that in fact had put Machiavelli under torture and questioning prior to the writing of this book. I think very possible that the advice given here was in itself "Machiavellian" in nature and that while there remain truths within it, their is an air of purpose to it. Especially if the fact that it was written in the vernacular and distributed widely among the populace. The discourses hint at his detest for principalities like that of the Medici but still he does recognize, not unlike Aristotle that some cities need and require different types of rule as they are too far past corruption. Instead I like to read his writings as not so much subterfuge or even advice to a prince but as an amoral approach to the science of politics that wishes to examine the inter-workings of its complex social concepts, without drawing too much upon ideals and abstract concepts that are impossible to prove exist, rather to understand real politic, the past histories must be examined as they provide the best examples for future action, as is a common maxim "history is always repeating itself" and I think Machiavelli understood this better than some.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mitchell

    The Essential Writings of Machiavelli provides first time readers with an excellent bang for their buck. The introduction by Albert Russell Ascoli is thoughtful and analytical. Ascoli has a solid prose style that is pleasant to read. He doesn't have to try hard because he's a decent writer, so that helps. The Prince is included in its entirety, as well as excerpts from Discourses and The Art of War. My only qualm is that The Art of War is not included in its entirety, as Machiavelli deemed it hi The Essential Writings of Machiavelli provides first time readers with an excellent bang for their buck. The introduction by Albert Russell Ascoli is thoughtful and analytical. Ascoli has a solid prose style that is pleasant to read. He doesn't have to try hard because he's a decent writer, so that helps. The Prince is included in its entirety, as well as excerpts from Discourses and The Art of War. My only qualm is that The Art of War is not included in its entirety, as Machiavelli deemed it his most important work. I tend to agree, though my only exposure to The Art of War consists of the selections from this collection. Regardless, I do believe it displays a distinct 'level up' in Machiavelli's abilities from The Prince. You can really see his art gaining momentum. However, this lack of total inclusion only spurred me to pursue The Art of War on my own. Perhaps this was factored into the architecture all along, assuming serious readers have enough here to spark a real appetite. Still, considering Machiavelli's own admission, I think a chunk of the discourses and other pieces could have been sacrificed for the total inclusion of his self-proclaimed master work. I give the thing 5 stars anyway, as I'm a rather generous critic by nature.

  9. 5 out of 5

    G.

    Machiavelli is usually thought to have been cynical and cold, and the word "Machiavellian" is generally used to express the cunning or deceitful nature of someone/something. True, Machiavelli was cynical, especially towards the end of his life. Mostly it had to do with losing his position as a politician and diplomat with the return of the Medici. And yet, there is so much more to Machiavelli. The Essential Writings of Machiavelli offers a well-rounded collection of Machiavelli's work and person Machiavelli is usually thought to have been cynical and cold, and the word "Machiavellian" is generally used to express the cunning or deceitful nature of someone/something. True, Machiavelli was cynical, especially towards the end of his life. Mostly it had to do with losing his position as a politician and diplomat with the return of the Medici. And yet, there is so much more to Machiavelli. The Essential Writings of Machiavelli offers a well-rounded collection of Machiavelli's work and personal correspondence in the historical context of Machiavelli's Italy. Read this if you want to see his cunning, cynicism, if you are interested in his political and historical thought. But also, if you want to see his humor, wit and charm. Read this if you want to see Niccolo Machiavelli, the politician, the diplomat, the historian, the fiction writer. Also, Niccolo Machiavelli, the friend, the father, and a man in love.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    His psychological observations 300 something years before Freud are eerie. His military theory/political writings are educating but I skimmed his essays on contemporary political affairs - so boring they make you wanna kill yourself. His literary works are entertaining and easy to read, 'Rules for an Elegant Social Circle' is surprisingly light & funny. Well, surprisingly, after you waded through his essays on contemporary political matters. Those people sticking 'Machiavellian' labels left and r His psychological observations 300 something years before Freud are eerie. His military theory/political writings are educating but I skimmed his essays on contemporary political affairs - so boring they make you wanna kill yourself. His literary works are entertaining and easy to read, 'Rules for an Elegant Social Circle' is surprisingly light & funny. Well, surprisingly, after you waded through his essays on contemporary political matters. Those people sticking 'Machiavellian' labels left and right, you guys'd better read this volume first.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Augustin

    Machiavelli captures Florentine, Italian and by extension, modern world politics carefully. Mass murders and all-out war aside, his support of a republic as opposed to a principality and reasons given make The Prince and Discourses (especially) a must-read for any corporate or government leader. It would help if we the populace could read it too, but that would complicate tactics a wee bit more :)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ivan Soto

    I loved this book and came to love Machiavelli. A fair reading of Machiavelli's work should reject the negative connotations behind the adjective Machiavellian. That adjective in its contemporary form is unfair to Machiavelli and reveals callow ethics. I loved this book and came to love Machiavelli. A fair reading of Machiavelli's work should reject the negative connotations behind the adjective Machiavellian. That adjective in its contemporary form is unfair to Machiavelli and reveals callow ethics.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alisha G

    I don't know what it says about me that I like The Prince so much. I don't know what it says about me that I like The Prince so much.

  14. 4 out of 5

    John Lombard

    A

  15. 5 out of 5

    mike

    This book goes over the base of what Machiavelli did in his life. It has selections from in my opinion his most famous book The Prince, as well as The Discourses.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Scott M.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sue

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brian Abshier

  19. 5 out of 5

    Onur

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Ferman

  21. 4 out of 5

    yakub

  22. 4 out of 5

    Illreadandignorant85

  23. 4 out of 5

    David

  24. 4 out of 5

    Zuckzor

  25. 4 out of 5

    Charmaine

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  27. 4 out of 5

    Queenjade

  28. 5 out of 5

    TTG

  29. 4 out of 5

    John

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brad

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