This is a colorful, comprehensive, and authoritative introduction to the life and work of the author of The Prince--Florentine statesman, writer, and political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527). Corrado Vivanti, who was one of the world's leading Machiavelli scholars, provides an unparalleled intellectual biography that demonstrates the close connections between Machiavelli's thought and his changing fortunes during the tumultuous Florentine republic and his subsequent exile. Vivanti's concise account covers not only Machiavelli's most famous works--The Prince, The Discourses, The Florentine Histories, and The Art of War--but also his letters, poetry, and comic dramas. While setting Machiavelli's life against a dramatic backdrop of war, crisis, and diplomatic intrigue, the book also paints a vivid human portrait of the man.
Vivanti's narrative breaks Machiavelli's life into three parts: his career in a variety of government and diplomatic posts in the Florentine republic between 1494 and 1512, when the Medici returned from exile, seized power, and removed Machiavelli from office; the pivotal first part of his subsequent exile, when he formulated his most influential ideas and wrote The Prince; and the final decade of his life, when, having returned to Florence, he wrote The Art of War, The Florentine Histories, the satirical play The Mandrake, and other works. Along the way, the biography presents unmatched accounts of many intensely debated topics, including the precise nature of Machiavelli's cultural and intellectual background, his republicanism, his political and personal relationship to the Medici, and his ideas about religion.
"Sensible and useful. . . . [Vivanti] sets forth the greatness of Machiavelli, not as a figure of his time, the Renaissance, but as a founder of modernity."--Harvey C. Mansfield, Wall Street Journal
"Students well versed in the classics, the historian's vast writings and medieval history will most enjoy this academic biography."--Kirkus Reviews
"[T]his graceful and informative biography should win many readers and is a welcome addition to Machiavelli scholarship. . . . [R]ecommended for all scholarly collections."--Library Journal
"Paints a complex picture of the circumstances that shaped the man whose name became synonymous with political cunning."--Karl Kunkel, ForeWord Reviews
"[E]xcellent, and accessible to anyone interested in finding out more about Machiavelli."--Jonathan Powell, Prospect
"Vivanti supplies a fascinating, concise guide to Machiavelli's life and work. . . . [W]ell worth reading."--Joanna Kavenna, Spectator
"[I]nformative and . . . level-headed."--Keith Miller, Telegraph
"Vivanti offers a comprehensive analysis of the thought of Machiavelli situated against the backdrop of political and biographical developments in the early 16th century. . . . Few writers possess better qualifications to write this study."--Choice
"Niccolo Machiavelli: An Intellectual Biography will appeal to a wide audience, since the style is easy-to-read and the content broad but focused. Anyone interested in this period of history (15th and 16th century Europe) or political philosophy will find Vivanti's work a useful guide and a stimulating read."--Economics and Philosophy Blogspot
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