The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

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Key Takeaways

  1. It is far better to gain the confidence of the people than to rely on fortresses
  2. He who thinks that new favors will cause great personages to forget old injuries deceives himself
  3. Of fortune and women, it is the bold rather than the cautious that will win and hold them both
  4. Men are still the dupes of their simplicity and greed
  5. The cloak of religion still conceals the vices of mens' ambitions
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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
  1. 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.
Read The Prince