Machiavelli lays out what the prince of a territory should and should not do in order to rule successfully. His insight covers topics from how to rule your people, what to do with colonies, whether one should wish to be feared or loved (not hated turns out to be the answer), how to rule newly conquered people, etc. It is often very direct and harsh in its suggestions.
It is far better to gain the confidence of the people than to rely on fortresses
He who thinks that new favors will cause great personages to forget old injuries deceives himself
Of fortune and women, it is the bold rather than the cautious that will win and hold them both
Men are still the dupes of their simplicity and greed
The cloak of religion still conceals the vices of mens’ ambitions
Louis XII made the 5 errors – he destroyed the minor powers, he increased the strength of one of the greater powers in Italy, he brought in a foreign power, he did not settle in the country, he did not send colonies
He who has not first laid his foundations may be able with great ability to lay them afterwards, but they will be laid with trouble to the architect and danger to the building
Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails. Above being feared and loved, it is more important to avoid hatred
A prince who is not wise himself will never take good advice, unless by chance he has yielded his affairs entirely to one person who happens to be a very prudent man.
It is of the greatest important in this world that a man should know himself, and the measure of his own strength and means; and he who knows that he has not a genius for fighting must learn how to govern by the arts of peace.
What I got out of it
The term Machiavellian has been a bit distorted over the centuries to become synonymous with manipulation. While Machiavelli undoubtedly advises this in certain situation, that is not his main argument. Many valid points on how to deal with people or groups of people and while his examples are dated, his messages are as clear as ever.
Sun Tzu’s 2,000 year old principles are as relevant today as they were back then. Whether in business, sports, war, or any other field, taking care of the small decisions as well as deception, disguise and diversion are all required for success.
Sun Tzu lived from 544 to 496 BC and was a very successful general even in his own time and was revered by all Chinese military leaders for centuries
“He who relies solely on warlike measures shall be exterminated; he who relies solely on peaceful measures shall perish.”
Many think of China as the largest peace-loving nation on earth but forget about her turbulent, violent times thousands of years ago. They had built the Great Wall and had a huge standing army before Rome’s first legion even existed
What I got out of it
Amazing how certain principles will always be relevant and Sun Tzu’s Art of War is no exception. Although his examples are all based on warfare, these can be translated into any field. Great read