Book Club

Each month you’ll get a recommendation for the best book liberals should read to keep up to date. Call it homework to keep your Republican friends honest.

Restless Classics presents a trenchant new edition of Machiavelli’s most powerful works of political philosophy, including The Prince and selections from Discourses on Livy, introduced by New Yorker writer and biographer of Che Guevara Jon Lee Anderson.

Few authors achieve such notoriety that their name becomes an adjective. A “Machiavellian” politician is not simply one who is conniving; the term also refers to a tyrant who is enamored with all the power he (it is usually a “he”) can attain. With so many Machiavellian politicians on the world stage today―Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Mohammed bin Salman, Viktor Orbán, Jair Bolsonaro, et alia―Machiavelli’s masterpieces The Prince and Discourses on Livy are at once timely and eternal.

Widely held as a foundational work of modern political philosophy, The Prince can be read as a practical guide for ruling or a satirical guide on how not to rule. Machiavelli prefaces the book with a letter addressed to Lorenzo de’ Medici, the infamous ruler of Florence, both admonishing and praising him for his governance. The sister volume, Discourses on Livy, offers an analysis of ancient Roman history that supports Machiavelli’s claims by lauding the merits of a republic.

As Jon Lee Anderson explores in his incisive introduction, Machiavelli’s hard-line outlook on power, politics, war, governance, and ethics has frightening parallels to the current trend toward authoritarianism in our global politics. Machiavelli: On Politics and Power is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the psychology and methods of power-hungry leaders, past and present. Click here to read more.