The Prince

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by Niccolo Machiavelli

Niccol Machiavelli (1469–1527) was a young Florentine envoy to the courts of France and the Italian princes, where he witnessed firsthand the lives of people who were closely unified under one great monarch. His "primer for princes" was inspired by his curiosity with that political anomaly and his strong wish to have the Medici dynasty adopt a comparable role in Italy. Machiavelli used a rational approach to advise prospective rulers in this classic guide to acquiring and maintaining political power, developing logical arguments and alternatives for a number of potential problems, including governing hereditary monarchies, dealing with colonies, and the treatment of conquered peoples.

The Prince establishes a shockingly pragmatic formula for political success, which is refreshing in its directness but frequently disconcerting in its cold reality. This calculating prescription for power remains a timely and startling lesson in the practice of autocratic rule nearly 500 years after it was written, a timely and startling lesson in the practice of autocratic rule that continues to be read and studied by students, scholars, and general readers alike

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Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.

— Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince