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Machiavelli: Philosopher of Power

av Ross King

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1224167,348 (3.42)2
An alternative portrait of the revolutionary political philosopher challenges popular beliefs about the cruelty of his character to reveal the complexities and sympathetic nature of his personality.

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Niccolo Machiavelli was a true Renaissance Man according to this volume. It is sized in such a way that it is shorter than it seems at first glance. Thus, it is simple to plow through it in a single sitting. Machiavelli's most famous work is also his most controversial. In advising Princes to ignore ethics and morality in their dealings with other nations earned him a name synonymous with evil and duplicity.

Ross King's main thesis of this book is to explore the life and times of Machiavelli in order to explain his hardened stances on politics. The book illustrates the political realities of 15th century Europe quite well. With a fractured Italy and a horribly weak government, it is hardly a surprise that he supports such ideals. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
I loved [b:Brunelleschi's Dome|148821|Brunelleschi's Dome How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture|Ross King|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1172198203s/148821.jpg|515240] and hope this will be equally good
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Starts slow with Machiavelli's rise to an important position in Florence and his various missions as sort of a roving emissary and troubleshooter, picks up in the middle with the intrigues as the Medici family comes back into power in Florence, then slows down again a bit at the end. Machiavelli deserves credit for keeping his head when so many others lost theirs. The descriptions of his other writings, such as some rather vulgar humorous plays, are interesting and King does a good job creating a sense of the turmoil of 16th century Italy with its constant wars and intrigues. Even the Pope was leading an army. On the other hand, King reports contemporary legends as fact, such as monster children being born and seen as a bad portent, when obviously things like that couldn't actually have happened. Not as interesting or compelling as his Brunelleschi's Dome, but it does make me want to go back and read the Prince again. ( )
  datrappert | Jun 13, 2010 |
This is a very straightforward and accessible bio, one that emphasizes chronology and his life experiences with only occasional forays into his work. Anyone looking for more context on The Prince will find relatively little here (although some of the earlier chapters and the conclusion are interesting), but it's a vivid portrayal of the Italy that he inhabited, a place we now tend to see as fascinating, think of the art/architecture it produced, but too often forget was lawless, violent, and often terrifying as wars and disease (notably the newest arrival, syphilis) swept across it at frequent intervals. King also clearly identifies Machiavelli as the first humanist to write this kind of manual for rulers (we tend to forget this was a tradition going back to Thomas Aquinas, but good old Niccolo took a completely different perspective...) An excellent read for newcomers to Machiavelli, as it makes him human and not just the quasi-conspiratorial and sly manipulator he is perceived to be. I'm glad I read this; it will help me get back to Paul Strathern's [The Artist, the Philosopher and the Warrior], which is about the ways that the lives of Machiavelli, Cesare Borgia and Leonardo da Vinci overlapped and affected each other. The latter was good, but dense, and I bogged down in it, so plan to give it another try later this year. Meanwhile, this relatively thin bio is 4 stars. ( )
1 rösta Chatterbox | Apr 5, 2010 |
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