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This book takes quite an interesting format as it is written as advice that is offered to an aspiring prince by a man filled with wisdom. It focuses on issues related to the state and politics. It gives important tips on how to get in power and stay there. The author of this book Machiavelli, at the time of writing this book was actually living a life of forced retirement after the government of Florence in which he was serving, was overthrown by the Medici family. Based on his diplomatic interactions with the Kings and Princes from diverse parts of Europe during his time in the government, Machiavelli wrote this book as a gift to the new ruler of Florence. The reasons for the writing of this book may be viewed as diverse; however it is inherent to note that the author may have had intentions of using the book as a stepping stone to ascend to power.
Before the government that he had served in was overthrown, Machiavelli had been viewed as one of the possible successors to the throne. The advice that he offered in the book indeed seemed to suggest that he was looking for ways to get close to the new leaders. He advises the leaders to befriend their enemies as opposed to those friends that had helped them to ascend to power. This book is regarded as one of the foundations of the modern philosophy and history; it is widely recognized as being one of the first publications to science of politics with basis on the study of the actions that had taken place throughout history. The name Machiavelli has indeed become synonymous with the nature of political power; those who do bad deeds for the sake of political power are termed as Machiavellian while their views are termed as Machiavellianism.
In this publication, Machiavelli clearly expresses his own point of view on the political system without really caring about what the reader thinks. This is clearly seen from the way in which the use of the first person 'I' in addressing the reader is prevalent. The use of authoritative language is one of the distinct features of this book; Machiavelli brings our his blunt character when he considers whether a leader should be loved or feared; the author states that based on the fact that man is ungrateful, anxious and covetous in nature, the leaders (Princes) should learn to stay away from the property of others and adds humor by stating that men are quicker to forget the death of a father than the loss of some property (p. 60).
The author may appear as being evil but in reality he was just trying to express his feelings and attitudes towards the nature of humanity and the attitude that the leaders and their subjects hold towards each other. Controversy also arises when the author states that a leader 'must stick to the good so long as he can, but, being compelled by necessity, he must be ready to take the way of evil' (p. 63). In this sentence what comes out clearly about Machiavelli is that he was not afraid to reveal the unspoken laws of politics and governance.
Machiavelli seems to describe the person he views as an ideal leader and from the language used in the narrative it is clear that he thinks he would be that perfect leader. What makes this publication quite significant as part of the history that is taught even up to date lies in the fact that Machiavelli backs his statements with experiences from different Princes, emperors and other leaders he had met throughout his diplomatic missions in Europe when he was in the government. The time in history that it was written (1500's) also makes it quite significant for trying to contrast the leadership of that period to today's leadership.
The author clearly outlines the attributes of a good Prince from his viewpoint and clearly outlines how he thinks leaders ought to conduct themselves. Based on the fact that war was a significant feature in the past as the kingdoms and empires were constantly in battle, Machiavelli outlines how the leaders ought to approach and conduct themselves in the period of war. The historical significant of this publication is therefore invaluable based on the period of its publication as well as its context and contents alike. The book is still very applicable in the context of today's politics and it should continue being used to teach history because the character traits of the leaders of today are similar to that described by Machiavelli.