The Routledge Guidebook to Machiavelli's The Prince: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Routledge Guidebook to Machiavelli's The Prince

1st Edition

By John T. Scott


290 pages

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Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince is one of the most influential works in the history of political thought and the adjective Machiavellian is well-known and perhaps even over-used. So why does the meaning of the text continue to be debated to the present day? And how does a contemporary reader get to grips with a book full of references to the politics of the early 16th Century?

The Routledge Guidebook to Machiavelli’s The Prince provides readers with the historical background, textual analysis, and other relevant information needed for a greater understanding and appreciation of this classic text. This guidebook introduces:

  • the historical, political and intellectual context in which Machiavelli was working
  • the key ideas developed by Machiavelli throughout the text and the examples he uses to illustrate them
  • the relationship of The Prince to The Discourses and Machiavelli’s other works

Featuring a timeline, maps and suggestions for further reading throughout, this book is an invaluable guide for anyone who wants to be able to engage more fully with The Prince.


"An initial encounter with this hugely influential treatise is sure to be much more fruitful and rewarding with this wise and informative guide at hand. All readers will benefit from its helpful method of placing this famous work in both its historical and philosophical contexts, and well-seasoned scholars of Machiavelli are sure to be intrigued by its many fresh insights."

Vickie Sullivan, Tufts University, USA

"This is an excellent introduction to the political theory of Machiavelli, informed by the best scholarship on The Prince, which introduces the novice to the work while providing fresh insights for those know it well."

Damian Grace, University of Sydney, AUS

"Witty, insightful, and engaging, this guidebook is the best available. It addresses itself to all readers of the Prince, new and old alike, and invites them to consider this ‘little book’ afresh. Scott deftly reveals the ambiguities, uncertainties, and surprises that pervade the Prince, illustrating just what it means to read a book carefully."

Michelle T. Clarke, Dartmouth College, USA

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Machiavelli’s Life and Times 2. Machiavelli’s Audience and His Intentions 3. Principalities (Chapters 1-5) 4. Virtue and Fortune (Chapters 6-7) 5. Principalities Continued (Chapters 8-11) 6. War (Chapters 12-14) 7. Virtue (Chapters 15-19) 8. War, Prudence, and Counsel (Chapters 20-24) 9. Fortune (Chapter 25-26) 10. Machiavelli’s Political Thought Timeline

About the Author

John T. Scott is Professor of Political Science at University of California, Davis.

About the Series

The Routledge Guides to the Great Books

The Routledge Guides to the Great Books provide ideal introductions to the texts which have shaped Western Civilization. The Guidebooks explore the arguments and ideas contained in the most influential works from some of the most brilliant thinkers who have ever lived, from Aristotle to Marx and Newton to Wollstonecraft. Each Guidebook opens with a short introduction to the author of the great book and the context within which they were working and concludes with an examination of the lasting significance of the book. The Routledge Guides to the Great Books will therefore provide students everywhere with complete introductions to the most significant books of all time.

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