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Paperback The Discourses Book

ISBN: 0140444289

ISBN13: 9780140444285

The Discourses

(Part of the Discourses on Livy Series)

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Book Overview

"It is not the well-being of individuals that makes cities great, but the well-being of the community"

Few figures in intellectual history have proved as notorious and ambiguous as Niccol Machiavelli. But while his treatise The Prince made his name synonymous with autocratic ruthlessness and cynical manipulation, The Discourses (c.1517) shows a radically different outlook on the world of politics. In this carefully argued...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Redefines the (misunderstood) modern view of Mr. Machiavelli

It is important to note that Niccolo Machiavelli's most important work is this. He actually advocates for a tripartite government with checks and balances, like our own US gov't before Montesquieu and Locke. no mean feat! obviously, there was more to this theorist than "the end justifies the means." Morality was of importance to him after all. No doubt, this is a classic of political thought. It marks the end, for better or worse, of the Middle Ages conformity and a bold forging ahead toward the modern political horizons. Look it over!

excellent reading

I'd recommend this book to anyone who might've enjoyed books like Sun Tzu's "Art of War" or Robert Greene's "The 48 Laws of Power" or even someone who is even religious (Muslim, Christian, etc.) who might not be too afraid of understanding the perspective of a politician. I mix in religion because, perhaps to someone who subscribes to a more "pious" take on life, Machiavelli may hold a severely secular stigma. But this book may offer an alternative, if even more secular, view on the decisions made by religious/state leaders like Moses and Muhammad. As for those who also are into government conspiracy theories I'd also recommend this book- mix it with what you already think and you may come up with some more original theories of your own! ;)Machiavelli comes across as a learned observer of mankind and expresses a rare understanding of the continual state of flux of mankind. Through his studies of history and in comparing past events to "present" (circa 1500s) ones Machiavelli makes strongly supported arguments throughout the discourses. Where Robert Greene falls short in "48 Laws" I believe is Machiavelli's stronger point- applying the [quite helpful] description of the characteristics of the parties involved which helps the reader summate the outcomes [of many of the events that are described throughout his discourses] right along with the reading. "48 Laws" does this well at times but falls short of this fluidity with many of his examples which can leave a certain level of disparity between the example(s) given and the "Law" to which it applies.In summary I'd note that this is one of the few books that I wish didn't finish. I don't agree with him on every point, but I admire the proofs to his arguments on every page.

Intellectually Enriching

Although much can be learned from modern writers about the history of Italy, the sentiments and evaluations of politicians and historians of this period (sixteenth century) are unique to their day. It is wonderful to read Machiavelli's evaluation of Livy's historical accounts and see why certain actions which would be shunned by modern writers made perfect sense then. Such accounts help the reader not to be trapped in his own day's thought processes, but have an expanded scope of history. Very enlightening!

The King is Dead!

These are Machiavelli's essays on the lessons to be learned from Titus Livy's first ten books about Roman history. Though other works existed, Machiavelli chose Livy's histories because Livy was an eye witness to the fall of the Roman Republic.Machiavelli's purpose for writing The Discourses can be summed up in one line: "The multitude is wiser and more constant than a prince." More to-the-point, however is the later phraise: "A corrupt and disorderly multitude can be spoken to by some worthy person and can easily be brought around to the right way, but a bad prince cannot be spoken to by anyone, and the only remedy for his case is COLD STEEL."With every stroke of his pen, Machiavelli sets out to prove the superiority of a republican form of government. He values freedom of the citizenry above all else, and provides princes everywhere with grizzly tales of what happens when it is restricted. His influence on the Founding Fathers, and particularly on the works of Paine and Jefferson, is evident. Our current leaders would find themselves more secure if they stuck to Machiavelli's principles.

Another Machiavelli. Different from the often known one.

No one who wants to have a fair outlook of the whole political reflexions of Machiavelli, might get it without reading "Discourses.." (Discorsi...). There the reader will find another kind of Machiavelli. Not The Prince's, but another thinker. Deeper and broader, the main topic rather than how to get the power (as along The Prince), is now how to stabilize it. Livy's work is just a motive for Machiavelli's analizes. So, the frequent reference to ancient Greek or Roman history, serves as comparative model regarding the actual Italian and the lager European exuberant political universe. Instead the prince needed to unify Italy and set it free from foreing powers, the central figure is a republic capable to keep liberty alive and a "virtuosa" social life, in terms of participation in the power exercise. Most of the conclusions keep still today a wise validity. That's why after "Discourses..." (albeit it seems The Prince was written in the middle of the former's one composition years) one can talk rightly about a "republican" Machiavelli. If he was not father, at least he was uncle (a bright one) of the since many years called "protective republicanism". In few words: the book put in evidence his very scope and stature. Doubtless, "Discourses..." show us another kind of Machiavelli. Different from the often known one. But still more, different than the ignored one (although ignorance never has been and impediment for many people to speak improperly about "Machiavelli", "machiavellism" and "machiavellic".)
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