Niccolo Machiavelli's Art of War is one of the world's great classics of military and political theory. Praised by the finest military minds in history and said to have influenced no lesser lights than Frederick the Great and Napoleon, the Art of War is essential for anyone who wants to understand the history and theory of war in the West and for those familiar with The Prince and Discourse on Livy who seek to explore more fully the connection between war and politics in Machiavelli's thought.
Machiavelli scholar Christopher Lynch offers a sensitive and entirely new translation of the Art of War, faithful to the original but rendered in modern, idiomatic English. Lynch's fluid translation helps listeners appreciate anew Machiavelli's brilliant treatments of the relationships between war and politics, civilians and the military, and technology and tactics. Clearly laying out the fundamentals of military organization and strategy, Machiavelli marshals a veritable armory of precepts, prescriptions, and examples about such topics as how to motivate your soldiers and demoralize the enemy's, avoid ambushes, and gain the tactical and strategic advantage in countless circumstances. To help listeners better appreciate the Art of War, Lynch provides an insightful introduction that covers its historical and political context, sources, influence, and contemporary relevance. He also includes a substantial interpretive essay discussing the military, political, and philosophical aspects of the work.
This new edition of Machiavelli's classic is bookended by an introduction and interpretive essay by the editor and translator, Christopher Lynch. The informative introduction is essentially a historiography, placing the work in its historical context and surveying the different arguments and revisions of its secondary literature, with Lynch arguing for a "third way" of reading Machiavelli's misunderstood work. A more general introduction to Machiavelli's life and Florentine background would have been welcome.
Lynch offers a careful close reading of the original; he makes a strong case for his translation choices, and argues for a reassessment of several key points based on his new version for example, his interpretation of Machiavelli’s attitude towards the citizen army. His translation convincingly presents Machiavelli’s voice and aims, and his conclusions about the disharmony of civic and military lives, "the priest and the warrior, the armed and the unarmed".
Lynch claims to have striven to "remove myself from between Machiavelli and his reader", and, in this clear and literal translation, he has succeeded. The downside of this is a certain lack of color, or panache. The book takes the form of dialogues: several interlocutors pose questions and respond to the historical figure of Fabrizio Colanno (adapted by Machiavelli, argues Lynch, as a “restrained version” of the author himself). But their interjections are limited to a few lines at most, while Colanno's answers are more like monologues, delivered in the lengthy and dense sentences of the Italian original. The narrator, then, faces an uphill struggle to introduce variety into the proceedings, and the lack of modification in Victor Bevine's performance doesn't help: he gives equal weight to every line, even though asides, footnotes, and parentheses should have their own pace. What he does do well is to manufacture a sense of forward propulsion that plows through the detailed descriptions of artillery formations and gunpowder technology.
The real draw here, though, is the essay which follows the main text with barely a pause for breath. Here Lynch writes illuminatingly of "the many unexpected gifts" of Machiavelli, and justifies the need for this latest in a line of translations by seeking to find out anew exactly what kind of work this "useful and beautiful book" is. Lynch repeatedly urges us to take "a closer look". Dafydd Phillips
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intriguing ,but not as relevant as The Prince