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Ian Richardson, an actor best known perhaps for his performance as a very Machiavellian Prime Minister in House of Cards, a BBC miniseries, sounds every bit the same well bred, dignified and ruthless schemer in this reading of The Prince. The book retains a great deal of relevance, with themes such as the promotion of pre-emptive strikes, the political uses of religion, and cultivation of fear for political gain. Many leading political figures are very influenced by this book. The influencial neo-conservative thinker Michael Ledeen even considers Machiavelli an 'idealist.' Listen to this for some real insight into the mechanics of power.
16 of 17 people found this review helpful
I know I'm not the first to say this, but it is amazing to see how relevant this work still is, and will probably continue to be, as long as human beings are the same. Machiavelli presents a brilliant analysis of history and draws frighteningly convincing conclusions on "how to rule". Morals, honesty and lawfulness are all considered and dismissed as irrefutable laws: if one's object is to be a successful ruler, one should definitely strive to appear generous and kind, but to know when and how not to be those things. As relevant today as it was almost 500 years ago.
The narration on this audiobook is nothing short of perfect.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
One of the first books I read for fun (as opposed to academically) was ?The Prince?. At the time it came across as crisp & pithy, but more like a manual for politics than a living, breathing text (similar to Sun Tzu's ?The Art of War?).
The fantastic thing about this Audio book is that it brings the cadences of ?The Prince? to life. Whereas the book is pretty much dredged for advice & the anecdotes are disgarded, Ian Richardson's presence forces you to engage with his story & with the fascinatingly varied life of Machiavelli. As the other reviewer has said 'the late Ian Richardson of House of Cards fame is exactly the right voice for this piece'. I would add that his qualities as an actor bring clarity & vivid detail to what is otherwise a political textbook.
And what did Machiavelli live through? Some of the most Interesting times (in all senses!) in Medieval Italian politics, when the Pope, Venetia, France & Spain all vied for dominance of Italy (& all eventually failed in some regard). It is in this backdrop provides fruitful material for Machiavelli to dissect. At each stage Machiavelli states how the states work, what things they did right & what failures lead to their downfall.
And the best part was the ending, where he appeals for a united Italy. In the book this comes over rather plainly, but with Ian Richardson's compelling reading, you really feel the depth of feeling that Machiavelli wished to convey.
My one criticism is that the intense analysis is not ideal if you?re listening in the car. To understand the analysis fully it needs your full attention.
So, definitely a worthwhile purchase & a valuable insight into the passion & intensity of one of history's greatest political commentators. If you like this particular one, then I thoroughly recommend Dawkins' reading of ?On The Origin of Species?. It is always good to hear dry non-fiction brought to life by a narrator.
Only a true Machiavellian would understand...
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Narrated by Ian Richardson, or Francis Urquhart from BBC House of Cards
Excellent, powerful & posh accent & performance
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
As one would expect, Ian Richardson reads with flawless pronunciation and diction, and the listener is able to hear and understand every word of the text.
It would be good if Audible used English stage actors more often as its readers or narrators. They are clearly the best in the world. I'm Australian and if there was a choice of: "English, Australian or American narrator?", then it is a no-brainer - apologies to the latter two options, but I would elect to go with the first choice each time.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful