Niccolò's Smile: A Biography of Machiavelli
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Niccolò's Smile: A Biography of Machiavelli

by
3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  110 ratings  ·  12 reviews
In Niccolò's Smile, Maurizio Viroli sheds light on the private life of the enigmatic writer who was the founder of modern political thought.

Machiavelli's works on the theory and practice of statecraft are classics, but Viroli sugggests that his greatest accomplishment is his robust philosophy of life -- his deep beliefs about how to conduct oneself as a modern citizen in...more
Paperback, 1st American paperback, 288 pages
Published January 9th 2002 by Hill and Wang (first published 1998)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Niccolò's Smile, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Niccolò's Smile

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 237)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Wesley Fox
A couple things. (1) This book is a translation from the original Italian version and so obviously it was meant for an Italian audience, (2) it is not a comprehensive biography of Niccolo Machiavelli, it is more of a supplement.

The book's thesis is that Machiavelli has been inaccurately portrayed as advocating princes and governments do evil, that power is more important than anything else. He is named as the proponent of feared princes. His philosophy is often referred to as the school of evil....more
Craig
Solid historical context coupled with fawning prose by an author with a serious man-crush on machiavelli, which annoyed even this reader with a man-crush of his own
Alexander J
Even during his life, Machiavelli was a misunderstood person. The existence and use of the term 'Machiavellian' speaks to this: We view him, as many of his contemporaries viewed him, as someone who endorsed a complete lack of morality and justice in the pursuit of power. But this easily-digestible book presents a very different Machiavelli. Using Machiavelli's smile as a recurring image to vivify the various details of his life, Viroli presents us with a mischievous and loving Machiavelli who st...more
Kyle Bennett
A concise, insightful intro to the life and context of Machiavelli for a popular audience. Viroli paints an interesting portrait of Machiavelli through the suggestive lens of his smile. However, Viroli doesn't land where he tells us he will. He invites us to consider the real Machiavelli through his philosophy of life, not simply his political philosophy. Yet, while giving us copious (albeit enjoyable) details about his life, Viroli spends very little ink on what is Machiavelli's philosophy of l...more
Zelda
Interesting read and a good synopsis of the lead-up to the sack of Rome. Maybe something is lost in the translation but it was unnecessarily prosey in spots and the language a bit hackneyed. Sometimes read like a college paper. The author and I disagree strongly on topics of morality so some of Machiavelli's behaviors that he found laudable I found repulsive. That said, Machiavelli may be unfairly portrayed as a political philosopher especially since the secular humanists won the canon wars of t...more
Ahsan
"Niccolo's Smile" imparts character to Niccolo Machiavelli, who is traditionally accused of lacking it. The author employs Machiavelli's Letters and lesser known works such as his official dispatches as Florentine secretary, to reveal his sharp wit, intelligence and constant humanity.

Reading about key events during his service, one can find context for some of his infamous statements in The Prince.

For those who need one, it is also a good introduction to Machiavelli the writer. I only fault the...more
Kari
Interesting look into Machiavelli's entire life, both professional and personal. Written from a very sympathetic perspective, but still a good way for those unfamiliar with him to see the man beyond the impressions that most people have based on a superficial knowledge of his works.
Amy
A very clear biography intermixed with Italian politics but not particularly confusing. Helpful to have read The Prince, at least, in reading this one. Not sure how much I agree with his depiction of this man. Certainly a good place to start for chewing over who Machiavelli was.
Steven Spector
Translated from the Italian. The author's passion for his subject is easily spotted. Not the first bio on NM I'd read, but one I'd read while eating a heaping bowl of ziti and smiling through my chews.
Brook Finlayson
First rate biography of an intruguing character. Machiavelli is not who you think. Most of what is thought of him is flawed. This is a very engaging read.
Nancy
Another interesting take on the politics in Florence during the time of the Renaissance. Also interesting insight into the creator of the Prince.
Anthony
Amazing book, told with honesty and truth about this incredible journey that Machiavelli took, all still relevant, if not more so today.
John Willetts
John Willetts is currently reading it
Jul 10, 2014
Maggie
Maggie added it
Jun 27, 2014
Jordan Gomez
Jordan Gomez is currently reading it
Jun 20, 2014
M
M added it
Jul 02, 2014
Thomas
Thomas marked it as to-read
Jun 11, 2014
John Willetts
John Willetts marked it as to-read
Jun 08, 2014
Kasia Świderska
Kasia Świderska is currently reading it
Jun 01, 2014
Neil
Neil marked it as to-read
May 20, 2014
Michał Szajbe
Michał Szajbe is currently reading it
May 15, 2014
Pat
Pat added it
May 14, 2014
Ma-ruda
Ma-ruda marked it as to-read
May 13, 2014
Peter Anderson
Peter Anderson marked it as to-read
May 10, 2014
Odile Peters Mareschal
Odile Peters Mareschal is currently reading it
May 06, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Machiavelli Republicanism La libertà dei servi How to Read Machiavelli For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism

Share This Book