Machiavelli: The Art of Teaching People What to Fear
Across time and geography, the name of Machiavelli is usually synonymous with tyranny, cruelty, and fear. To be yoked with the Machiavellian adjective is to be branded an unpleasant individual to be around. But is that implication truly accurate or fair? According to historian Patrick Boucheron, not necessarily.
In Machiavelli, Boucheron views Machiavelli’s writings from a different perspective. Looking to those who influenced the political arena in Machiavelli’s day, as well as his written works, Boucheron carefully reveals the logical and timeless premises of the concepts that have branded Machiavelli a devil of history.
While I enjoyed this book, I found the title to be hugely misleading. The Art of Teaching People What to Fear seems to imply that the author is prepared to discuss the justification and/or effectiveness of Machiavelli’s approach towards ensuring a strong, stable government. Instead, Bucheron simply draws out the inherent logic in Machiavelli’s concepts and illuminates their relevance, not just in Machiavelli’s time, but in this day and age. The author’s ideas are clear, and he makes his points succinctly in individual vignettes that are arranged in a very consumable format. A great little book to round out your knowledge of one of literary history’s more scandalous contributors.
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