Machiavelli: The Art of Teaching People What To Fear

Other Pr. Feb. 2020. 176p. ISBN 9781590519523. pap. $14.99. PHIL
In this short work, Boucheron (history, Collège de France) compiles the text of a radio series he did for French public radio in 2016 on Italian Renaissance philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli, best known for the insights on retaining power offered in The Prince. Boucheron isn’t interested simply in analyzing Machiavelli’s political thought. He also covers the era in which Machiavelli lived and wrote, providing a larger political framework for readers, and considers all Machiavelli’s writings and his style of thought. The chapters are brief and can be read independently, but taken as a whole, they provide a distinct perspective on the influential philosopher. Why did Boucheron do a radio show and then a book on Machiavelli? He wanted to demonstrate that Machiavelli’s political thought is still relevant today as it clarifies that politics, and the world, are anything but neat and tidy; as he puts it, “He heralds tempests, not to avert them but to teach us how to think in stormy weather.” That is a great description of Machiavelli’s ideas.
VERDICT Readers looking to learn more about the thinker, as well as those seeking an introduction, will find this creative work appealing.
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