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How to Choose a Leader:
Machiavelli’s Advice to Citizens
Maurizio Viroli

Hardcover | 2016 | $16.95 | £14.95 | ISBN: 9780691170145
144 pp. | 5 x 7
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One of the greatest political advisers of all time, Niccolò Machiavelli thought long and hard about how citizens could identify great leaders—ones capable of defending and enhancing the liberty, honor, and prosperity of their countries. Drawing on the full range of the Florentine's writings, acclaimed Machiavelli biographer Maurizio Viroli gathers and interprets Machiavelli's timeless wisdom about choosing leaders. The brief and engaging result is a new kind of Prince—one addressed to citizens rather than rulers and designed to make you a better voter.

Demolishing popular misconceptions that Machiavelli is a cynical realist, the book shows that he believes republics can't survive, let alone thrive, without leaders who are virtuous as well as effective. Among much other valuable advice, Machiavelli says that voters should pick leaders who put the common good above narrower interests and who make fighting corruption a priority, and he explains why the best way to recognize true leaders is to carefully examine their past actions and words. On display throughout are the special insights that Machiavelli gained from long, direct knowledge of real political life, the study of history, and reflection on the political thinkers of antiquity.

Recognizing the difference between great and mediocre political leaders is difficult but not at all impossible—with Machiavelli's help. So do your country a favor. Read this book, then vote like Machiavelli would.

Maurizio Viroli is professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University, professor of government at the University of Texas, Austin, and professor of political communication at the University of Italian Switzerland in Lugano. His many books include Niccolò's Smile: A Biography of Machiavelli (Hill & Wang) and Redeeming "The Prince": The Meaning of Machiavelli's Masterpiece (Princeton).


"Voters of all persuasions will find much here to confirm their convictions. . . . Machiavelli wanted to make his country great again, but greatness should have nothing to do with vanity or cruelty. Viroli offers a timely reminder of his thought."--Raphael Hogarth, Times Literary Supplement

"As Maurizio Viroli makes clear in his short, sharp, and sobering How to Choose a Leader: Machiavelli's Advice to Citizens, the GOP's presidential nominee would have horrified the Florentine political thinker--not because he has grasped Machiavelli's advice--he hasn't--but because he scorns Machiavelli's values."--Robert Zaretsky, Los Angeles Review of Books

"A good book for an election year."--Choice

"How to Choose a Leader is a kind of Copernican Revolution regarding Machiavelli’s perspective and objectives. It is a project anything but easy, since one must not only have mastered Machiavelli’s thought, but also have a good understanding of American history to grasp the examples supporting the Counselor’s advice. Maurizio Viroli, it must be noted, has done a great job."--Michalis Katsimitsis, The Historical Review

"A commendable work by author Maurizio Viroli on the traits that citizens should look for when choosing a leader."--Ibrahim Mukhtar, Insight Turkey


"Niccolò Machiavelli was not only an adviser to princes; he was also, and more importantly, an adviser to citizens. Maurizio Viroli has collected, explained, and elucidated some of the best examples of Machiavellian advice. Be sure to read this book before you go to the polls."--Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study

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