- July: The Tipping Point
- August: Mere Christianity, 1984
- September: The Kite Runner
- October: Um...
- November: Uh...
- December: Yeah...
- January: The Prince
In an effort to redeem myself a little, I stole a dusty, yellowing book from my parents' bookshelf over Christmas: Machiavelli's The Prince, a book considered by many to be one of the world's most influential political works. I read it over the last month, and I finished it just before the end of January.
Niccolò Machiavelli, a 15th century Italian statesman, wrote The Prince as a treatise on how leaders should obtain and maintain kingdoms. The book is startling in its frankness and practicality. Machiavelli is firmly planted in the realist camp. He makes occasional references to deity and morality, but he clearly eschews idealism and moralism for what he considers more practical tactics.
One of the most interesting ideas that Machiavelli presents is that a leader must be esteemed as an exemplary person by his people, but that he must sometimes commit contemptible acts in private. He lauds successful hypocrites and double-crossers while faulting simpleminded, morally-driven leaders. In Machiavelli's eyes, results are all that matter, no matter how they are obtained.
I firmly disagree with many of Machiavelli's stances, mostly because I disagree with his definition of success. In my view of the world, acting morally is success, no matter the outcome. In other words, the success is in the journey, not the destination.
Next up: Hamlet. I've been reading it on and off for a few months, and I'd like to finish it this month.