Books: Talking Tough with the Prince of Pragmatism ; by Michael White Machiavelli: A Man Misunderstood by Michael White LITTLE, BROWN Pounds 16.99 (304Pp) Pounds 15.99 (Free P&p) from 0870 079 8897
North, Richard D, The Independent (London, England)
Leo Strauss, the political scientist often seen as the godfather of the US neo-conservatives, admired Machiavelli because the 16th- century Florentine understood the work that powerful people must do. Machiavelli's Prince does not have to be wicked or behave as though he believed all men are, but he must read the nature of the people he is dealing with: he will come across wickedness and weakness, subtlety and folly, and must operate duplicitously and forcefully when needs be.
"Therefore," says Machiavelli, "a prince, so long as he keeps his subjects united and loyal, ought not to mind the reproach of cruelty; because... he will be more merciful than those who, through too much mercy, allow disorders to arise, from which follow murders and robberies." We'd call it Tough Love.
One turns to a popular biography with high hopes. Here, one imagines, will be a lucid account of what Machiavelli wrote and how his diplomatic missions brought him wisdom. With luck, the whole will be leavened by the bittersweetness of our hero's slitherings on the greasy pole of ambition. Some of this work is done by Michael White, but none of it well. His writing is amateurish, and he handles historical material clumsily.
Machiavelli was a humbly born careerist sent to royal, papal and princely palaces to make sure his small, rich city - Florence - was not stitched up by its neighbours, France, or by sundry emperors and megalomaniacs. He negotiated for and with men who were variously sophisticated and sociopathic. …
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Publication information: Article title: Books: Talking Tough with the Prince of Pragmatism ; by Michael White Machiavelli: A Man Misunderstood by Michael White LITTLE, BROWN Pounds 16.99 (304Pp) Pounds 15.99 (Free P&p) from 0870 079 8897. Contributors: North, Richard D - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: December 31, 2004. Page number: 14. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.