The Prince3 min read
A frequent contender in “X books to read in a lifetime,” should you read The Prince by Machiavelli? Will you be fighting any wars, controlling any colonies, or governing any people? Probably not. Is this book useful at all then? I think so and here’s why.
Initially, I wanted to give this book a 4/10. It is dense, full of tough diction, and the syntax (arrangement of words in sentences) is so alien I thought I truly was reading Italian (the language it was originally written in). There are three reasons I believe The Prince is worth reading.
1. The Lessons are Great
After pushing through a couple of chapters in a row, I began to understand the words, sentences, and, finally, the lessons.
when states are acquired in a country differing in language, customs, or laws, there are difficulties, and good fortune and great energy are needed to hold them, and one of the greatest and most real helps would be that he who has acquired them should go and reside there.Machiavelli – The Prince
Now, I am not acquiring a country, but, one day, I may be leading a group of people. Have you ever watched Undercover Boss? The boss goes “undercover” and works as a lower-level employee. Normally, they come out of it having learned something new and change their ways of leading (ruling). Zappos requires all employees to take some time working in the customer service department. Many great generals learned the most on the front lines (although this isn’t a good military tactic).
This is how much of the book goes, seemingly specific lessons and anecdotes with timeless applications.
2. The Brain Challenge is Good
You should do one thing, every day, that you don’t want to doMy Mom
I don’t know why. I don’t think this is a very logical argument, but I enjoyed the challenge of reading these difficult sentences. The way this book is written makes you want to give up reading, and give up quickly, but, when you push through, you find out you’ve learned something and you’ve accomplished something. You can understand something difficult.
3. You get the clout of telling people you read the Prince (especially on the internet)
This may or may not be the main reason I read this book.
In all sincerity, this was a challenging read, but it is short (~60 pages) with great lessons throughout.
- Either treat your enemy well or crush them completely; any injury that is recoverable can put you in danger in the future
- When instilling a new regime, a new order, be very careful because you will have enemies in everyone who has done well with the old regime.
- Don’t worry necessarily about being feared or loved, worry about being hated; avoid hatred at all costs.
- It is not necessary to have only good qualities – only to appear as so.
- Ignore conspiracies when people like you, but when they don’t like you, fear everything.
- Fortresses are only important if you fear your own people, otherwise, they are useless.
- He who believes that new benefits will cause great personages to forget old injuries is deceived.
- the usurper ought to examine closely into all those injuries which it is necessary for him to inflict, and to do them all at one stroke so as not to have to repeat them daily […] For injuries ought to be done all at one time, so that, being tasted less, they offend less; benefits ought to be given little by little, so that the flavour of them may last longer.
- The chief foundations of all states, new as well as old or composite, are good laws and good arms.
- Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous.
- men more quickly forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony.
- There never was a new prince who has disarmed his subjects; rather when he has found them disarmed he has always armed them, because, by arming them, those arms become yours, those men who were distrusted become faithful, and those who were faithful are kept so, and your subjects become adherents.