Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Prince” as Want to Read:
The Prince
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

The Prince

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  285,434 ratings  ·  9,460 reviews
A new translation of the infamous Renaissance classic, in a striking deluxe edition

The original blueprint for realpolitik, The Prince shocked sixteenth-century Europe with its advocacy of ruthless tactics for gaining absolute power and its abandonment of conventional morality. For this treatise on statecraft, Machiavelli drew upon his own experience of office under the tu
Paperback, 176 pages
Published November 24th 2009 by Penguin Classics (first published 1532)
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 The Prince, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Mary The prince is a frank exposition on the division between the idealism we profess and the reality that we live. My recollection is that Machiavelli oft…moreThe prince is a frank exposition on the division between the idealism we profess and the reality that we live. My recollection is that Machiavelli often summarizes that division in passages like the one you have quoted. He acknowledges the reality then "tempers" it by contrasting the more real - power - with the more ideal - glory.

Another quote along this line (if I remember correctly) is "We should always seek to emulate our savior, Jesus Christ, and forgive our enemies ... but if we do, we will be killed." (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  285,434 ratings  ·  9,460 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Prince
That single statement boys and girls is the crux at the heart of the matter resting at the bottom-line of Niccolo Machiavelli’s world-changing classic on the defining use of realpolitik in governance and foreign policy. Despite popular perception, Machiavelli, whose name has often been used as a synonym for political ASSHATery, was not arguing that it’s better to be immoral, cruel and evil than to be moral, just and good. Rather, Machiavelli was demonstrating, through reasoned analysis based
This is no Little Prince, that's for sure. You must kill the fox, burn the rose, murder the businessman, if any of them tries to take control over your princedom. There's no time to be nice! There's only time to seem to be nice. At the end of the day, it is better to be feared than loved, if you can't be both. Nevertheless, keep in mind chapter 23.

The Prince was written in the 16th century and a couple of its ideas are too contemporary. It is a major treatise that influenced several political le
Ahmad Sharabiani
Il Principe = The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli

The Prince is a 16th-century political treatise by the Italian diplomat and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli.

Machiavelli said that The Prince would be about princedoms, mentioning that he has written about republics elsewhere, but in fact he mixes discussion of republics into this in many places, effectively treating republics as a type of princedom also, and one with many strengths.

More importantly, and less traditionally, he distinguishes ne
Mar 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I'm weirdly pleased that The Prince lives up to its reputation: it is indeed Machiavellian. Here's his advice on conquering self-governing states (i.e. democracies): "The only way to hold on to such a state is to reduce it to rubble." Well then.

I'd like to say that any guy whose last name becomes a synonym for evil is a badass, but Machiavelli wasn't; he was a failed minor diplomat who wrote this in a failed attempt to get reemployed. Stupid attempt, too; anyone who hired him would be advertisin
Ahmad Sharabiani
Il Principe = The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli

The Prince is a 16th-century political treatise by the Italian diplomat and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. From correspondence a version appears to have been distributed in 1513. However, the printed version was not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death.

Machiavelli says that The Prince would be about princedoms, mentioning that he has written about republics elsewhere (a reference to the Discourses on Livy), but in fact
Henry Avila
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Italy in the early 1500's was a sad, dispirited land of constant wars, deaths, destruction, political betrayals, schemes of conquest by greedy aristocrats, trying to enlarge their petty Italian states, invasion by ruthless, foreign troops, from France, Spain, the Swiss, rulers being overthrown and killed, armies continuously marching, towns sacked, fires blazing, black smoke poring into the sky , mercenary soldiers, slaughtering the innocent, pestilence spreading, only the wise, the strong and t ...more
Sidharth Vardhan

I don't know how come I never reviewed this one but recently I was visiting this friend of mine in south India, Pramod (yes, the one from Goodreads), when he showed me this not-so-popular smaller piece, allegedly written by the author in his last days, 'Le Gente' and never published - for common people about how they can succeed in social life using diplomacy.

There were only twenty copies of same written in 19th century, of which Pramod's was one. Since he is a sort of book-worshipper, he won't
Dec 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this book, Machiavelli makes his purpose clear: how to get power and keep it.

No happiness. No warm and fuzzy pats on the back. Definitely no hugs. No words of encouragement. Definitely nothing about being nice.

Being nice, in politics, in war, in struggles for power, often ends with one person winning and the other person being in prison, disgraced, exiled, or dead.

That was the context in which Machiavelli wrote this book. Italy at the time was a collection of warring states, not united. On
Jun 29, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So, it seems there has been a bit of a mix up.

I had no idea what this was about, I just assumed I was going to read a fairly raucous fictional story about a Prince. So you can imagine my shock when I read the opening chapter.

I feel bad for giving this a one star as this is entirely my fault however it meets all the criteria, I had to drag myself through, I understood little and the only satisfaction I received was reaching the end.

Sorry Machiavelli.
Petra X thanks everyone for their good wishes xxx
How to run things and hopefully remain popular but not give a monkey's if they hate you. How to instil enough fear in people that they at least show respect to your face.

Plenty of good lessons here for a politician, but adaptable by anyone if you don't mind being thought evil by your nearest and dearest. And I don't.
Jennifer (JC-S)
Sep 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
A young colleague of mine recently said ‘management is easy’. I smiled enigmatically and considered buying him a copy of ‘The Prince’ but I fear it would be wasted. I am now on my third copy of this book which, alas, I can only read in English. The George Bull translation (as reprinted in 1995) is the version I currently refer to.

I first read this book when studying economic history at high school in the second half of the last century. I was intrigued by Machiavelli’s advice even though I had l
I think this was the first time that I read this book from cover to cover rather than dipping in and out of it, I feel that it's reputation is bleaker than it's bite, it seems no more cynical than observing to oneself, when an American political figure says something, that there is an election coming up, and it is far less cynical, or brutally practical than The Memoirs of Philippe de Commynes in my opinion.

It stands out perhaps on two grounds, one it completely avoids conventional Christian mor
Simon Clark
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'We can say that cruelty is used well... when it is employed once for all, and one's safety depends on it, and then it is not persisted in but as far as possible turned to the good of one's subjects.'

The Prince is unlike anything I've read before. In many ways it feels like a truly evil book. Stalin, for example, kept an annotated copy of it. It reads as the blueprint for tyrants, despots, and politicians around the world - a guide to how the world of the powerful and the powerless truly works.
I decided it was time to find out for myself what Machiavelli was about. After all, he is one of a small group of writers who have lent their names to an adjective in the English language (Dickens, Orwell and Kafka are others I can think of).

“The Prince” is a short tract, and whilst it had its moments, I found much of it quite dull. I hadn’t expected that. In the edition I read, the translator says in a foreword that “my aim has been to achieve at all costs an exact literal rendering of the orig
Liz Janet
This book is the perfect representation between the best and the worst of House Slytherin in the Harry Potter verse, and that is how I presented it to my class. I got an A on the paper, so it does make sense.
“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.” Yes Machiavelli, at least you make some logical sense.

Here is my reasoning about Slytherin and The Prince: Slytherin House, which is known for cunningness, astuteness, ambition, thirst for power, self-preservati
The Prince is a political treatise written by a Florentine diplomat, Niccolo Machiavelli. In a time of foreign invasion and rule of the different parts of Italy, Machiavelli wrote this treatise and dedicated it to Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici of the Medici family in the hope that one strong ruler will emerge from that powerful house and drive the foreign rulers away from Italy.

This treatise is mainly concerned with the acquisition and preservation of power. It contains Machiavelli's detailed a
David Rubenstein
I didn't know exactly what to expect, when starting this classic treatise. As it turns out, the book is very accessible. Machiavelli turns out to have a very pragmatic, and practical approach to governing. One of the most important recommendations he has, is that a governing prince should keep his subjects happy. At least, don't do too many things to make them unhappy. If a governor finds himself with a population that is unhappy with him, then it is very vulnerable to attacks from the outside.

I had a really hard time getting into this book because, quite frankly, it wasn’t what I was expecting. Let me say, straight up, I’m not generally a fan of books on history. I like reading about certain parts in history but this wasn’t my cup of tea at all. Kudos to all Goodread members who thought this book deserved five stars. I’ll stand by my lonely one star and call it a day...
Jon Nakapalau
This book really opened my eyes to the way true power is exercised. Should be a 'foundational book' for anyone hoping to build a 'knowledge library' they can go back to throughout life. ...more
Saadia B. ||  CritiConscience
Talks about power and how to maintain it.

Blog | YouTube | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn
Riku Sayuj
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Turned out to be an easier and more entertaining a read than expected from a political treatise. After having read Walden, Civil Disobedience and now The Prince one after the other, I now feel equipped enough to take on heavy weights like Nietzsche and heavier tomes.
“…men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, because it belongs to everybody to see you, to few to come in touch with you. Everyone sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are…”

What a simple quote that holds so much influence. The same can be said for the book in general.

Besides the fact that history has always been one of my favourite subjects, as a dual citizen who has spent a lot of time in Italy, I felt like I would benefit from reading this to understand a littl
Ram Alsrougi
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Leader should be loved and feared at the same time... but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved."

I've always found it very difficult to rate classic works, because most of them are uneven. Definitely, this book is highly recommended If you've watched Game of Thrones.
The book contains Machiavelli's advice to the Italian ruler back then, it has shaped political thoughts for +500 years.
I was really shocked by how grea
I hesitated to read this. I thought it would be difficult. This proved to be untrue. Perhaps this is due to a good translation by W.K. Marriott. The book is preceded by a short and informative introduction. It provides a concise overview before you begin.

Machiavelli (1469-1527) writes of how to achieve good leadership. He speaks also of how to conquer opponents, which is to say other countries / city-states. The latter is not relevant in modern times—countries with different political leanings s
Laura Noggle
Mandatory reading for Earthlings. Incredible insights on humanity, experience, perception, glory and honor, power and survival.

Will re-read.

“Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.”

"And in examining their life and deeds it will be seen that they owed nothing to fortune but the opportunity which gave them matter to be shaped into the form that they thought fit; and without that opportunity their powers would have been wasted, and without their powers the opportunity wou
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.”
“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.”
“Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.”

The Prince was a great book detailing Machiavelli's philosophy and has intriguing to how ideologies differ in a different day and age.
Feb 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translated
Libertine magazine issue 3 has a quote down the spine:

it is the common good, and not private gain, that makes the cities great

I like to quote this to friends and play the yes-no game at guessing who said it. Everyone is stunned that it was Machiavelli.

In times when Machiavelli sounds radical, look sharp = /
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Old review)

I honestly don't understand why this book is - by almost everyone (as it shows here on Goodreads, for example) - so praised. I read it last year, and I briefly re-read it just now, but the answer still hasn't come up. I simply don't like this book.

Sure, as a historical document, The Prince (1513), written by Machiavelli, might be interesting. And it offers us a glimpse of the state of Italy (especially Florence) in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. But I cannot help but cynica
David Sarkies
Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Sound Advice for a Budding Ruler
2 August 2012

Having now read this book three times I sort of wonder how Machiavelli's name came to represent a sort of politics that involved deceit, manipulation, and backstabbing, because for those who claim that this is what the Prince is about have probably read the wrong book, or probably not read the book at all. Somebody even suggested that The Prince was satire because they could not imagine that anybody would suggest such actions to anybody, especially i
Eric Althoff
Aug 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ANYONE!
I will go out on a limb to say that second only to the major religious works (the Bible, the Koran, etc.), Nicolo Macchiavellie's "The Prince" is the most important and influential work that has ever been put into print. Composed by the Florentine in the 16th Century, "The Prince" provides the blueprint not just for the Renaissance ruler for whom it was allegedly penned, but also for anyone in politics, warfare, or even contemporary business. Machiavelli's premises may seem extreme to many (henc ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Art of War
  • Leviathan
  • The Social Contract
  • The Republic
  • The Communist Manifesto
  • Beyond Good and Evil
  • Meditations
  • Thus Spoke Zarathustra
  • Politics
  • Second Treatise of Government
  • The Nicomachean Ethics
  • The 48 Laws of Power
  • On Liberty
  • Utopia
  • Candide
  • The Stranger
  • Critique of Pure Reason
  • Sophie's World
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian political philosopher, musician, poet, and 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.

Related Articles

Danielle Evans was just 26 when she released her short story collection Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self in 2010, a multi-award-winning...
19 likes · 1 comments
12 trivia questions
4 quizzes
More quizzes & trivia...
“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.” 6398 likes
“If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.” 1010 likes
More quotes…