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As a young Florentine envoy to the courts of France and the Italian principalities, Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) was
able to observe firsthand the lives of people strongly united under one powerful ruler. His fascination with that
political rarity and his intense desire to see the Medici family assume a similar role in Italy provided the foundation
for his "primer for princes." In this classic guide to acquiring and maintaining political power, Machiavelli used a
rational approach to advise prospective rulers, developing logical arguments and alternatives for a number of potential
problems, among them governing hereditary monarchies, dealing with colonies and the treatment of conquered peoples.
Refreshing in its directness, yet often disturbing in its cold practicality, The Prince sets down a frighteningly
pragmatic formula for political fortune. Starkly relevant to the political upheavals of the 20th century, this
calculating prescription for power remains today, nearly 500 years after it was written, a timely and startling lesson
in the practice of autocratic rule that continues to be much read and studied by students, scholars and general readers