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The Art of War

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  5,220 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
Voltaire said, "Machiavelli taught Europe the art of war; it had long been practiced, without being known." For Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), war was war, and victory the supreme aim to which all other considerations must be subordinated. The Art of War is far from an anachronism—its pages outline fundamental questions that theorists of war continue to examine today, ma ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 5th 2001 by Da Capo Press (first published 1521)
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Oct 16, 2010 Jeremy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The only one of Machiavelli's major works to be published in his lifetime, The Art of War is a survey of Machiavelli's opinions on the composition, employment, and leadership of an army.

I found the introduction to this book by Neal Wood to be illuminating as it connected Machiavelli's views in this book to his other famous political works ( Discourses and The Prince ). It also discussed Machiavelli's sources (most of his examples are from Greek and Roman history, as befitting a Renaissance boo
Sep 28, 2010 Knarik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in military history and strategy
- "Good orders without military help are disordered"
- "A wise questioner makes one considermany things and recognize many others that one would never have recognized without being asked."
- War makes thieves and peace hangs them.
- Aquire fame as able not as good.
- I am esteemed not so much because I understand war as because I also know how to counsel in peace.
- DOn't keep beside you either too great lovers of peace or too great lovers of war.
- A battle that you win cancels any other bad action o
Nov 07, 2009 Mega rated it it was amazing
His writings are considered immoral, he teaches you to be appear to be meek as a lamb but deadly as a lion. How to conquer, how to placate, the importance of perception and how it is better to be feared than loved.
Aug 28, 2012 Vincent rated it liked it
Shelves: history
When most people hear the name Machiavelli, they probably consider him a one trick pony for, "The Prince." In reality, Machiavelli was a prolific writer, but his political treatise overpowers anything else.

"The Art of War" is an interesting discussion of how armies should be armed and organized. The treatise is organized into several "books" and is shown as a discussion between three characters, one of which is Machiavelli. Based on his knowledge of Roman organization, combined with the technolo
Aug 24, 2015 Sara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In una calda giornata di primavera o d'estate, Fabrizio Colonna gioca al Fantacalcio con gli eserciti internazionali presenti e passati nell'orto di Cosimo Rucellai a Firenze. Ne esce un lungo trattato sotto forma di dialogo, molto più spesso di monologo, sull'organizzazione militare ideale, con una punta di nostalgia che in ogni epoca e luogo non può mai mancare.
Dec 26, 2014 Thomas rated it it was amazing
Haven't read this in a while. It's still a great read. There are so many nuances and strategies that can be applied to all aspects of life, not just war, that can make your actions and decisions mutually beneficial for yourself and everyone involved. :)
Joshua Guest
Jun 02, 2012 Joshua Guest rated it did not like it
Nothing like Sun Tzu's timeless treatise of the same name. Disappointing.
Sep 26, 2013 James rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This is a grind. I have read Art of War by Sun Tzu and On War (abridged) by Clausewitz. Both of those were philosophical, and got boring when they got into specific tactics. This book is incredibly boring, as it is almost entirely (obviously antiquated) tactics.

It is also rather poorly written (or perhaps it's just a bad translation?). It is a completely flat writing style, put in the form of a dialogue about war tactics. There is none of the charm, aphorism, or wit seen in his infamous The Pri
I read this after reading the Prince as part of my self-introductory into military strategies and politics and such. Machiavelli is an interesting writer with keen observations, but some things felt off in his discussion on war. Maybe it was just his dismissal of artillery, or just his dogged-ness in clinging to "the Ancients". I hope to study more on Machiavelli and other subjects in this area, and I feel this is a good start. He does echo many things he said in The Prince, and there was quite ...more
Colin Williams
Jan 02, 2015 Colin Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this little volume in seventh grade. I was, predictably, annoyed by its slow start. However, one learns patience with age and once the dialogue gets going, it's really riveting. Cosimo, the interlocutor so praised in the introduction, gets to do about as much as Socrates' interlocutors--he plays yes-man to Fabrizio, the famous protagonist.

One could wish for more ample footnotes--these two are familiar with the ancients on a level that I, even armed with my degree in classics--simply
Roger Burk
Mainly for antiquarians. It's about how a sixteenth-century army should deploy for battle, in big blocks of pikemen and swordsmen, all laid out down to the foot. There are also similar neat, symmetric diagrams for marches, camps, and sieges. It's thinly disguised as a dialogue, with one experienced condottioro being Machiavelli's mouthpiece and the others just providing structure, praise, and occasional softball questions. The principle point of view is that however the ancient Romans did it is ...more
Isaac Liu
Jan 09, 2015 Isaac Liu rated it liked it
Machiavelli’s Art of War is no easy read, but it’s worth your time. In the book, Machiavelli’s friends are asking questions to a general, Fabrizio. The interview was casual, taking place in a garden. The book is Machiavelli’s word-for-word account of the interview.
I found the book wordy,and felt Machiavelli did not need to write the account word-for-word. Machiavelli’s introduction was three pages, describing everything from war to weather. Neal Wood, the revisor of the book, could have slimmed
Apr 06, 2015 Lindsey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
It took me 4.5 years to finish this one and the translation is almost entirely to blame. The dialogue is so stilted to the modern "ear" that it makes it difficult to maintain the flow of the arguments presented here.

The first half of the book is devoted to infantry arrangements, which in my completely non-professional opinion is much less relevant than the latter half of the book. Much like the more widely read Art of War by Sun Tzu, the discussions on encampment, siege warfare, a Captain's cha
Sep 12, 2014 Hans rated it really liked it
Shelves: military
Machiavelli has some interesting ideas about War and differs in parts from Clausewitz. He advocates that a stable society is built upon the foundation of a well-ordered and disciplined military. This foundation is a highly trained state-militia and is held together by good leadership, discipline, love of country etc. He even goes on to say that Religion is very useful and should be utilized to compel men to fight.

He believes that the best armies are primarily infantry and that the soldiers shoul
Savannah Watts
Jun 18, 2012 Savannah Watts rated it liked it
The book Art of War, by Niccolò Machiavelli was written between 1519 and 1520. It is separated into a 'Preface' then later broken down into seven chapters. It is basically a dialogue that describes how Machiavelli thinks a proper war should be conducted. He goes into detail about proper usage of troops, where they should be put to become most useful. He also gives a very detailed description on the use of weapons such as firearms, and units such as cavalry. He does think that fire arms and caval ...more
Sep 18, 2015 Zari rated it really liked it
"No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.
Nothing is of greater importance in time of war than in knowing how to make the best use of a fair opportunity when it is offered.
Few men are brave by nature, but good discipline and experience make many so.
Good order and discipline in an army are more to be depended upon than ferocity."
P.H. Wilson
Jul 08, 2015 P.H. Wilson rated it really liked it
Real rating: 8/10
It is a book on military strategy, not a philosophical tome. Though most works only become philosophical thanks to the retroactive nature of the scholars that come centuries later. One should not fault the work simply because you assumed that the author wrote only in one genre. Would one lambaste Beatrix Potter's early work because they thought her book on mushrooms would be about anthropomorphic ones rather than the scientific nature that it was. That fault lies with the reader
Debora Cortes
Jun 09, 2016 Debora Cortes rated it really liked it
This is written as a dialogue led by a military expert focusing on military techniques through history. We can move on in some parts, but throughout the book we can find interesting sections like comments about strategic options of ancient commanders, details about the daily life in armies and so on. It can get cruel (lynching is considered as a valid solution for transgressors, for example). Everything is beautifully put in words so it was quite enjoyable overall. I would recommend a quick read ...more
Mar 08, 2016 Aichi added it
Shelves: finished
Battista is more common, i mean that's like our daily life (how we feel, how other's see us, and how we might see others).
This book is great, awesome.

"You have said that, today, the little things can not be defended, and it seems to me I have understood the opposite, that the smaller the thing was, the better it was defended." - Battista (Part. 7)
Oct 24, 2015 Daniela rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
One of the most hard readings, mostly because half of the book teaches you how to arrange an army and how to defend/attack a city or citadel; but thanks for the historical breaks, in which the narrators explained the tactics and virtues of ancient Princes, like Hannibal, Caesar, Phillip or Alexander the Great, the book is an acceptable reading.

"The art of war" is the long instruction for "The Prince", Machiavelli's other book, but he himself recognizes in the end that even if they are descendan
Robin Wareing
Jul 05, 2014 Robin Wareing rated it really liked it
A classic read.

I enjoyed this greatly. There are numerous interesting discussion points within this book, although I feel it deserves a second read to fully integrate the concepts presented.
Andrei Roibu
Mar 01, 2016 Andrei Roibu rated it really liked it
Good insight in the tactics and strategies of the medieval armies seen through the eyes of a general the wishes to bring about a reform based on the ancient military principles and disciplines of the Roman and Greek armies.
Mar 27, 2015 Claire rated it really liked it
This book shaped most of my studies in international relations, in a way Sun Tzu did not.

I don't remember too many more details about it.
Apr 05, 2015 Nico rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pensaba que iba a tratar más el aspecto político de la guerra, pero expone más sobre táctica, estrategia y organización militar.
Marts  (Thinker)
Aug 08, 2011 Marts (Thinker) marked it as sounds-interesting
A treatise by the Italian political philosopher and historian Niccolò Machiavelli in the form of a series of socratic-like dialogues...

The following is of Wikipedian insight;

'Machiavelli wrote that war must be expressly defined. He developed the philosophy of "limited warfare" - that is, when diplomacy fails, war is an extension of politics. The Art of War also emphasizes the necessity of a state militia and promotes the concept of armed citizenry. He believed that all society, religion, scien
Derek Collett
Jul 27, 2015 Derek Collett rated it it was ok
Must have been eminently forgettable because I've already forgotten almost everything about it!
Silvio Rodriguez
Mar 29, 2015 Silvio Rodriguez rated it really liked it
Tactical and mind blowing
Aaron Sutton
great book
Scott Templeman
May 21, 2014 Scott Templeman rated it it was amazing
Get a newer version that will digest all of which would be lost out of context centuries later, mine had an extra 15% just from the translator (and was well worth it)
Jul 28, 2016 JAYDEE added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lo
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i searching the best history book 5 10 Oct 10, 2015 04:29AM  
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Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian political philosopher, musician, poet, and romantic comedic playwright. He is a figure of the Italian Renaissance and a central figure of its political component, most widely known for his treatises on realist political theory (The Prince) on the one hand and republicanism (Discourses on Livy) on the other.
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“Many, Lorenzo, have held and still hold the opinion, that there is nothing which has less in common with another, and that is so dissimilar, as civilian life is from the military. Whence it is often observed, if anyone designs to avail himself of an enlistment in the army, that he soon changes, not only his clothes, but also his customs, his habits, his voice, and in the presence of any civilian custom, he goes to pieces; for I do not believe that any man can dress in civilian clothes who wants to be quick and ready for any violence; nor can that man have civilian customs and habits, who judges those customs to be effeminate and those habits not conducive to his actions; nor does it seem right to him to maintain his ordinary appearance and voice who, with his beard and cursing, wants to make other men afraid: which makes such an opinion in these times to be very true. But if they should consider the ancient institutions, they would not find matter more united, more in conformity, and which, of necessity, should be like to each other as much as these (civilian and military); for in all the arts that are established in a society for the sake of the common good of men, all those institutions created to (make people) live in fear of the laws and of God would be in vain, if their defense had not been provided for and which, if well arranged, will maintain not only these, but also those that are not well established. And so (on the contrary), good institutions without the help of the military are not much differently disordered than the habitation of a superb and regal palace, which, even though adorned with jewels and gold, if it is not roofed over will not have anything to protect it from the rain. And, if in any other institutions of a City and of a Republic every diligence is employed in keeping men loyal, peaceful, and full of the fear of God, it is doubled in the military; for in what man ought the country look for greater loyalty than in that man who has to promise to die for her? In whom ought there to be a greater love of peace, than in him who can only be injured by war? In whom ought there to be a greater fear of God than in him who, undergoing infinite dangers every day, has more need for His aid? If these necessities in forming the life of the soldier are well considered, they are found to be praised by those who gave the laws to the Commanders and by those who were put in charge of military training, and followed and imitated with all diligence by others.” 2 likes
“O maior remédio utilizado contra os desígnios do inimigo é fazeres voluntariamente aquilo que ele planeja que tu faças à força, porque fazendo-o de forma voluntária, tu o fazes com ordem e para vantagem tua e desvantagem dele; se o fizesses à força, seria então a tua ruína.” 2 likes
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