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Machiavelli in Hell

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  149 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
In this intellectual biography, de Grazia presents a new vision of Niccolo Machiavelli that evokes the great Florentine thinker's presence. After giving an engrossing account of Machiavelli's childhood and period of personal crisis that followed his imprisonment and torture, the book turns to an examination of The Prince. Photos.
Paperback, 512 pages
Published January 13th 1994 by Vintage (first published 1989)
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May 02, 2014 Hadrian rated it really liked it
Niccolo Machiavegli
for love of country
"pissed in many a snow"
-Epitaph, humorously composed by friends

Here is a subtle and multilayered investigation into the life and work of Machiavelli. De Grazia's analysis of Machiavelli's work is intimate and all-encompassing - he only cites the man himself.

Machiavelli here is an active and varied thinker. He wrote incisive political works, but also poetry and plays. De Grazia's close reading finds that although Machiavelli might have some traits of the hard
This is a fun and enjoyably written biography of Machiavelli - the huge difference in tone and content between this work and Leo Strauss's Thoughts on Machiavelli nicely illustrates how Machiavelli pretty much means everything to everyone at this point. Strauss' depiction features a Machiavelli who brings down most of the western intellectual tradition with his ugly pragmatism and disdain for the spiritual goals of man; de Grazia makes Machiavelli a theologian.

Machiavelli is not your typical th
Nov 12, 2010 §-- rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: "political junkies lol"
Recommended to §-- by: Rich
Shelves: philosophy
One of the densest books I've ever read. Thorough to a fault (it gets a bit repetitive). Brilliantly organized like a symphony, it builds to a climax as de Grazia slowly unveils our hero. It's wonderfully gratifying to reach the end when the reader is presented with a coherent, consistent presentation of Machiavelli after so much contradiction and tension.

In fact, structural beauty aside, de Grazia's achievement may be in this complete and consistent understanding of Machiavelli's thought. Few
Feb 07, 2011 Dan rated it it was amazing
One of the best biographies ever written. -- Of anybody.
Dec 18, 2015 Daniel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
As idiosyncratic as it is compelling. Rife with amusing Italianisms, scatalogical digressions and pretty Renaissance paintings. Has a brilliantly odd way of approaching Machiavelli, the world's most misquoted philosopher after Nietsche and Donald Trump. Basically presents him as an off-color theologian hell-bent on restoring old Roman virtus. Doesn't try to round off the contradictory edges either. Dense, scattered, reads like your favorite professor rambling from behind his desk about his favor ...more
Apr 05, 2015 David rated it it was ok
De Grazia's command and analysis of Machiavelli's canon is impressive and interesting, but the book's nontraditional structure makes this more of a slog than it needed to be. Without any preface to outline the work, the reader needs to pay close attention to tease out the argument-- and if you find yourself bored (as I did) by a 25-page discussion of the different times the word "love" comes up in Machiavelli's work, there's no easy way to skip ahead. The nonchronological retelling of NM's life ...more
Throwing in the towel after 2 months. The content is quite interesting: the book builds up to a multi-layered, textured, very subtle exploration of Macchiavelli's political philosophy by thoroughly exploring how he felt about various concepts (love, institutional religion, God, loyalty, country, state, etc), apparent contradictions and all, using only his surviving works, letters, poems, and biographical elements. No secondary material. The reader's understanding of the man and how he conceptu ...more
Colin Williams
Not at all what I hoped for. I wanted context for Machiavelli's writings--I wanted to know about all the goings-on in Florence and Rome and who these French kings were who kept invading. While I do get some of that, I mostly get synopses of Machiavelli's work. When I put down this book and started reading The Art of War, I was a much happier reader.
Apr 02, 2013 robyn rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, historical
Holy crap. I've BEEN currently reading this book for probably a year now. I expect to be currently-reading it for the next year, and that might be overly optimistic. I may never actually finish it.

It's well written, exhaustively researched - the exhaustively-researched bit might be the problem. Perhaps it's more of a reference book than a reading book.

So how to rate it? Well, as a reference book it is AWEsome. As light reading, it's killing me.

So, a three.

Update: i finally gave up and shelved i
May 24, 2012 Rw rated it did not like it
Great idea, such poor delivery. Could it be the worse book I ever finished? What a sleeper! At first I thought it could have been the translator, but soon I realized that it had to be the author. De Grazia takes various subjects which Machiavelli wrote about and regurgitates what was already said. Blah, blah, blah . . . . . . boring, blah, blah, blah. Shades of the arrogant Harold Bloom. The title of the books is Machiavelli in Hell, but the author uses Machiavelli to put the reader in Hell. I h ...more
Jan 23, 2009 Cheryl rated it liked it
Shelves: pulitzer-prize
One of the most difficult to read books I have ever read! I can not recall reading a political science textbook that was more complicated than this one. The choice of words is extremely intellectual. At times, it was difficult to follow the point that DeGrazia was trying to make. However, the descriptions of Machiavelli's concepts of a republican state were extremely interesting to me. I would recommend this book only to the most serious student of political science.
First impression:

Started reading this yesterday and I was pleasantly surprised to find some illustrations in it.

What a beautiful first chapter: de Grazia tackles, head on, the reader's probable preconception of Niccolo (as the author prefers to address Machiavelli) as evil or bigot and demands respect for 'Italy's greatest writer of prose".

Jan-Jaap van Peperstraten
Mar 11, 2011 Jan-Jaap van Peperstraten rated it really liked it
Erudite and racy, this biographical study of Machiavelli is a sound study into the genesis of Machiavellian political thought. A must for anyone interested in renaissance Italy, or political history in general.
Nov 01, 2010 Jane added it
I read this over 10 years ago, decided to re-read it now while I find new books to read.
Maxo Marc
A little boring but interesting nonetheless.
George King
Aug 24, 2013 George King rated it it was ok
Shelves: pulitzer-bio
Needed more background before I read book
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