On Niccolo Machiavelli

Gabriele Pedullà


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Columbia University Press
17 October 2023
ISBN: 9780231205559
264 pages

From the publisher

Five hundred years after his death, Niccolo Machiavelli still draws an astonishing range of contradictory characterizations. Was he a friend of tyrants? An ardent republican loyal to Florence's free institutions? The father of political realism? A revolutionary populist? A calculating rationalist? A Renaissance humanist? A prophet of Italian unification? A theorist of mixed government? A forerunner to authoritarianism? The master of the dark arts of intrigue?

This book provides a vivid and engaging introduction to Machiavelli's life and works that sheds new light on his originality and relevance. Gabriele Pedulla-a leading Italian expert and acclaimed writer-offers fresh readings of the Florentine thinker's most famous writings, The Prince and the Discourses on Livy, as well as lesser-known texts. A new and often surprising Machiavelli emerges: one closer to his time but also better suited to inform our own. Pedulla's portrait of Machiavelli highlights his close attention to social and emotional bonds, staunch opposition to oligarchy, keen awareness of the economic side of power dynamics, and strong preference for history over philosophy as a guide for leaders.

This book recovers the excitement Machiavelli roused in his first readers for a twenty-first-century audience, capturing his capacity to provoke, both then and now, with unconventional ideas and startling insights.