Read The Great Books

A Curated Guide for Autodidacts

The Prince, Discourses

by Niccolò Machiavelli

The Prince was written by diplomat and prolific writer Niccolo Machiavelli. It was written as a primer for new leaders and royals on what to expect about leadership.

This is an interesting work for it’s look at politics and rule in 16th century Italy. Included is the goals of royalty and the morality of achieving those goals. It survives as an interesting read for leadership theory and historical content.

Oxford World Classics’ edition is the best around currently. Included in this version are a great translation that help the reader go over the text rather seamlessly. On top of that there is a great amount of additional information that help comprehend the text and the ideas Machiavelli entailed in it. The introduction and index also dispel some of the confusion that have surrounded the piece for centuries. It is definitely the must have edition for anyone interested in the work as a whole.

Discourses discusses the history of the Roman Empire. Also, the lessons to be learned from their lives and politics.

Not only an interesting text in the vein of history but also for those interested in political discourse. Included are his thoughts on different political regimes, the Italian renaissance, as well as the corruption and prolific people of Rome.

The two editions of this text that are worthwhile are Oxford’s and Penguin’s respectfully. Both have a good translation, and a great amount of information to help understand the piece. Penguin’s does fall slightly short however. This is due some apparent issues with formatting and the quality of the print. If you can find one such copy without said issues though then they are both a good addition to your library.