Machiavelli: Philosopher of Power
The track record of the recent spate of short books on big topics (Penguin’s Brief Lives and its home and native cousin Extraordinary Canadians, the Books that Changed the World and Big Ideas series) has not been very impressive. I’ve sampled quite a few and found none of them essential reading. Ross King’s Machiavelli bio, part of the new Eminent Lives series, is better than average, boiling an eventful and complex life down into a brief narrative that also provides a helpful précis of the career diplomat’s literary output and political philosophy. And I’m not sure we need any more than that.