Imprisoned, tortured, and forced into exile, he fought to clear his name. Instead, it would be misunderstood forever.
Born into a modest family in fifteenth-century Florence, Niccolò Machiavelli navigated his way through the violence and political uncertainty of Renaissance Italy. Recognized for his keen mind and understanding of human nature and government, Machiavelli courted kings and popes as the leading ambassador for his beloved Republic.
But it was a time of treachery, collusion, and war.
Wrongfully accused and convicted, Machiavelli lost everything when the Medici returned to power, except his mind and his quill. Hoping to write his way back into Florentine society, he drew upon his experiences and the villains of his time in his novellas, histories, plays, and political treatises such as the Discourses on Livy, The Art of War, and his irreverent masterpiece, The Prince, earning his place in history as the father of modern political science.
Targeted Age Group:: 40-65
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
My interest in Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli goes way back to my years in graduate school. Guido Guarino, my esteemed professor of humanism and Renaissance at the time, opened my eyes to Machiavelli not only as a groundbreaking political thinker, but also as an accomplished author of plays, satires, and novellas. Professor Guarino’s approach to Machiavelli was rigorously objective and straightforward, yet full of passion and humanity. He urged students to dive right into Machiavelli’s works, examine them at face value, study each word and clever turn of phrase, and appreciate them as sophisticated political philosophy and as literature to be devoured. I’d have to say that when I sat down to collect my thoughts on how to tackle the biography of such a misunderstood, maligned, and extremely complex man, I found a virtual gold mine in the reams of notes I took during Professor Guarino’s information-packed lectures. His Machiavelli was more than an astute and fearless political philosopher; he was a man with a wry sense of humor and a writer of notable substance. My gratitude goes out to Professor Emeritus Guido Guarino for giving me an honest, sober, and penetrating introduction to such a preeminent figure in Italian history.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
In terms of creating a flesh-and-blood, sympathetic (to a degree), and multidimensional lead character, Machiavelli’s numerous letters turned out to be my best resource. His own direct and incisive words went a long way toward painting a picture of an intelligent, no-nonsense man with a scathing wit and genuine enthusiasm for life. Machiavelli and His Friends, a compilation of missives to colleagues, friends, and family, edited by James B. Atkinson and David Sices, helped me tremendously in this regard, as did Machiavelli’s Legations, a selection of letters, collected by G. R. Berridge, composed during Machiavelli’s many diplomatic ventures for the Republic of Florence.
On an unusually cold afternoon that following December, just nine months after his release from custody, Niccolò sat in his study in his country home in Sant’Andrea in Percussina with those gruesome, not-so-distant memories still swirling around in his head. They ran on a seemingly endless loop. A daily occurrence. Truth be told, Niccolò rarely dwelt on the past. His slender frame, medium height, close-set eyes, and aquiline nose gave the misleading impression of an inconsequential man, unconcerned with the world around him, but his sharp, hawkish eyes saw the present with eerie precision, and could divine the future like no other. His tight mouth and thin lips saddled him with an almost permanent sarcastic expression that managed both to command respect and lend an air of levity to his persona. His friends and colleagues in the Signoria, the city’s center of government in the Palazzo Vecchio, held him up as a man of action, of unstoppable vigor and determination, invaluable to their efforts to keep the city safe and free.
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