12 February 2012

[29 before 29]: reading the classics

One of my goals this year is to read four classics as a break from academic reading. I finished the first on my list last week, and I thought I'd say a bit about it here in case any of you are looking for a quick and interesting read!

On the strong recommendation of a friend, I picked Machiavelli's The Prince to start out.  I felt like everyone in the world had read this book, and I was lagging behind, wanting to get to it eventually but never feeling particularly inspired. In a way, I'm glad I waited as long as I did, because I know some things now about ancient biography and historiography that made it really interesting in a way it wouldn't have been had I picked it up in high school or college.

Anyhow, you all know what it's about: "the ends justify the means." Except that isn't really what's going on in the book at all.  Instead, it's a rather conversational collection of what are basically short advice columns for young rulers trying to figure out the best way to gain, consolidate, and preserve their power in the face of common internal and external threats.  And there are fascinating examples drawn from classical history that spice things up.

Here's a link to the book online via Project Gutenberg if you're so inclined.

P.S. Coming up soon: new yarn and photos from a weekend in Cincinnati!

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