Be Like the Fox: Machiavelli's Lifelong Quest for Freedom (Paperback)Erica Benner (author)
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Was Niccolo Machiavelli really the cynical schemer of legend - or was he a profound ethical thinker, who tried to save the democratic freedom of Renaissance Florence as it was threatened by ruthless dynasties? This revelatory biography shows us a man of fox-like dissimulation: a master of disguise in dangerous times.
Niccolo Machiavelli lived in a fiercely competitive world, one where brute wealth, brazen liars and ruthless self-promoters seemed to carry off all the prizes; where the wealthy elite grew richer at the expense of their fellow citizens.
In times like these, many looked to crusading religion to solve their problems, or they turned to a new breed of leaders - super-rich dynasties like the Medici or military strongmen like Cesare Borgia; upstarts from outside the old ruling classes.
In the republic of Florence, Machiavelli and his contemporaries faced a choice: should they capitulate to these new princes, or fight to save the city's democratic freedoms?
Be Like the Fox follows Machiavelli's dramatic quest for political and human freedom through his own eyes. Masterfully interweaving his words with those of his friends and enemies, Erica Benner breathes life into his penetrating, comical, often surprising comments on events.
Far from the cynical henchman people think he was, Machiavelli emerges as his era's staunchest champion of liberty, a profound ethical thinker who refused to compromise his ideals to fit corrupt times. But he did sometimes have to mask his true convictions, becoming a great artist of fox-like dissimulation: a master of disguise in dangerous times.
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 281 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 22 mm
'Lively, compulsively readable, fluently written and unshowily erudite.' - Terry Eagleton, Guardian
'Compelling, unconventional' - Julian Baggini, Financial Times
'A ripping read . . . fascinating, charming, enjoyably unorthodox.' - Tim Smith-Laing, Telegraph
'A remarkable work of imaginative engagement backed by scholarly learning. . . can be read with pleasure by anyone interested in the craft of politics and the life of ideas.' - The New York Times
'Engaging, clever, entertaining . . . Benner brings to life a Machiavelli who's a man of considerable political principle . . . a creative, lively and very readable book with more than a little contemporary resonance.' - Literary Review
'A gripping portrait of a brilliant political thinker, who understood the dangers of authoritarianism and looked for ways to curb them even though independent speech had become impossible.' - The New Yorker
'A rich, vivid and endlessly surprising portrayal of the man and his times.' - BBC History Magazine *
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