Rejecting the traditional values of political theory, Machiavelli drew upon his own experiences of office in the turbulent Florentine republic to write his celebrated treatise on statecraft. While Machiavelli was only one of the many Florentine “prophets of force,” he differed from the ruling elite in recognizing the complexity and fluidity of political life.
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About the Author
Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) was a Florentine statesman who was later forced out of public life. He then devoted himself to studying and writing political philosophy, history, fiction, and drama. George Bull is an author and journalist who has translated six volumes for the Penguin Classics: Benvenuto Cellini’s Autobiography, The Book of the Courtier by Castiglione, Vasari’s Lives of the Artists (two volumes), The Prince by Machiavelli and Pietro Aretino’s Selected Letters. He is also Consultant Editor to the Penguin Business Series. After reading history at Brasenose College, Oxford, George Bull worked for the Financial Times, McGraw-Hill World News, and for the Director magazine, of which he was Editor-in-Chief until 1984. His other books include Vatican Politics; Bid for Power (with Anthony Vice), a history of take-over bids; Renaissance Italy, a book for children; Venice: The Most Triumphant City; and Inside the Vatican.
“[Machiavelli] can still engage our attention with remarkable immediacy, and this cannot be explained solely by the appeal of his ironic observations on human behaviour. Perhaps the most important thing is the way he can compel us to reflect on our own priorities and the reasoning behind them; it is this intrusion into our own defenses that makes reading him an intriguing experience. As a scientific exponent of the political art Machiavelli may have had few followers; it is as a provocative rhetorician that he has had his real impact on history.” –from the Introduction by Dominic Baker-Smith
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