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Machiavelli: A Biography

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4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  141 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
He is the most infamous and influential political writer of all time. His name has become synonymous with cynical scheming and the selfish pursuit of power.

Niccolò Machiavelli, Florentine diplomat and civil servant, is the father of political science. His most notorious work, The Prince, is a primer on how to acquire and retain power without regard to scruple or conscienc
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Hardcover, 400 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by Simon & Schuster (first published November 16th 2010)
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Jason Goetz
Mar 05, 2013 Jason Goetz rated it really liked it
With most biographies of literary artists, there are three major categories in which the author can succeed or fail: 1) in giving context to the life and times of the author in terms of how they shaped his perceptions; 2) in dealing with the ideas that the author himself discusses in his works; and 3) in examining the author's works and legacy in the train of other great works of similar or equal merit.

I feel quite strongly that this biography succeeds greatly in the first, but has significant l
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Þróndr
Mar 25, 2016 Þróndr rated it really liked it
Unger's biography of Machiavelli is really well written, and in several ways I thought it was even better than his earlier biography of Lorenzo de' Medici. Though I really liked that one, I was still a bit reluctant about getting this book, since it would necessarily involve a discussion of political science as well as pure biography. Still, for the most part, Unger has done a great job here. There are some exceptions to this though, e.g. the chapter titled 'The Prince', where Unger yields to th ...more
Steven Spector
Aug 18, 2013 Steven Spector rated it it was amazing
Tired of hearing the term "Machiavellian" thrown around to describe this and that, I threw caution to the wind and purchased this work. Please consider me a huge enthusiast both of the subject and for this book. NM was astute enough to work "the system," whatever that system was in place at the time. Sometimes he flourished; other times he was left at the bottom, all courtesy of the whims of those in power whether they be political, religious, or a conspiracy of both. If looking to read about a ...more
Shari
Feb 21, 2014 Shari rated it really liked it
Machiavelli was a far more interesting character than his popular reputation implies. He wrote histories, taking his example from Livy and the Roman Republic Livy so wonderfully expounded. A confessed patriot of his Florentine Republic and a man whose preference was for government by the 'popolo' rather than the elitist wealthy and noble, he readily acknowledged that such a thing was not always possible given the events of his era, and that the only way to preserve the Republic was to go with th ...more
Taylor Kniphfer
Aug 02, 2011 Taylor Kniphfer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This surely most be the best biography of Machiavelli ever written. It was surely the most readable in the sense that I learned a lot about this great philospher and how he viewed the world and the use of power. Fantastic book.
Zach Vaughn
Oct 20, 2011 Zach Vaughn rated it really liked it
I am grateful that Miles Unger has written this new biography of Machiavelli which reveals much about his life, as well as addressing the many mischaracterizations of the man and his work.

Unger shows us, through Machiavelli’s letters to his friends and colleagues, that the man so often identified as an unscrupulous tutor of tyrants was a dedicated republican motivated by an unfailing patriotism (for Florence specifically, and Italy more generally). Mr Unger shows us that those who judge Machiave
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Pam Doyle
Jan 18, 2014 Pam Doyle rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading Machiavelli A Biography by Miles Under and thought it was an excellent book. The book fully described Machiavelli, his life and times. I read this book because I wanted to learn more about Machiavelli after reading The Artist, The Philosopher and The Warrior: DaVinci, Machiavelli and Borgia and The World They Shaped by Paul Strathern. It was a fascinating account of how the three men crossed paths between 1498 - 1512-ish.

Ungers book goes more into the life and philosophy
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Brenna De Sando
Feb 23, 2014 Brenna De Sando rated it really liked it
The reason I got through this entire book about a man who is - let's be honest - irrelevant to me, was because Unger's writing is phenomenal. He made the book a lot easier to read. This is the book you turn to when you need references for your Italian History of Politics paper. It's not the dry, boring book your teacher is expecting you to cite. It is colourfully worded, factual, and entertaining.
I liked his writing so much that I bought Magnifico, another amazing biography by Unger.
Phillip W.
Oct 04, 2015 Phillip W. rated it it was amazing
A tremendously fine biography of Machiavelli that brims with analysis, insight, and nuance. The author does an excellent job in presenting Machiavelli the man and his thought in an instructive and illuminating fashion.

In reading this book one discovers that "being Machiavellian" in no way means what it is popularly thought to mean. What an absorbing and refreshing work where a man is conveyed in all his complexity.

Of course, people can forgive almost anything but the shattering of their illusion
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DaveA
Sep 25, 2013 DaveA rated it liked it
I don't normally read biographies. They're too dull. I like historical novels or biographical novels on the order of Irving Stone. I have to admit, though, that this book kept my interest. For those who like biographies, you'll probably love this. The book gave good historical context, and lots of information about Cesere Borja, Rodrigo Borga (Pope Alexander VI), Giuliano della Rovere (Pope Julius II), the Midici family, Leonardo da Vinci, Girolamo Savonarola, Charles V, various French kings, an ...more
Colin Myles
Mar 19, 2014 Colin Myles rated it it was amazing
A book which gave a greater understanding of the man,his work and how it influenced his writing. All put into context in the times Machiavelli was living in.The use of his private letters gives a broader view of the times and the man.

If you like Machiavelli's work but would like to know more about the man himself,then I highly recommend this book.
Frederik V.
Een genuanceerd beeld van het enfant terrible van de politieke wetenschap tijdens de laatste stuiptrekkingen van Florence als onafhankelijke stad-staat. Boeiend.
Bryan
Sep 17, 2015 Bryan rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This book is the perfect primer for The Prince and is a great read in its own right. Machiavelli was a creature of his times and this book puts a positive spin on his legacy, while at the same time remaining interesting.
J
Jun 21, 2014 J rated it really liked it
Great biography of a controversial man
Daniel Kukwa
Dec 02, 2012 Daniel Kukwa rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Concise yet luxurious, this is two thirds biography, and one third political/historical/literary analysis. It's a fantastic combination of history & political science...everything I loved about my university education, and everything that fires my imagination about the past. Philosophical historical & political writing that leaves the reader extremely satisfying. Machiavelli himself would undoubtedly approve.
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"Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces"is the culmination of a life-long passion for the art and culture of Italy. As a child, I spent five years in Florence, and I have been haunted by the beauty and storied past of this most remarkable of cities ever since.

Over the years I have written for "The New York Times", "The Boston Globe," "The Washington Post", as well as numerous art magazines. For
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