“Philip Bobbitt is perhaps the most outstanding political philosopher of our time.” Henry Kissinger
Few books in the history of the world have had a stronger, more lasting, or more errant impact than Machiavelli’s The Prince.
One of its first interpreters called it “a courtier’s Koran.” A copy was found in Napoleon’s abandoned coach at Waterloo
, and Hitler was said to have kept a copy at his bedside. Over the centuries, the view of the Machiavellian prince as a ruthless, immoral tyrant has dominated, but in this fascinating examination of the author and his work, scholar and statesman Philip Bobbitt argues that this is a misunderstanding stemming from mistranslations, political agendas, and readers overlooking Machiavelli’s earlier Discourses on Livy.
In The Garments of Court and Palace,
Bobbitt debunks these myths and explains that Machiavelli’s argument was about the need to distinguish between a ruler’s personal and governing ethos. As a constitutional scholar and political philosopher with a deep personal knowledge of governance, Bobbitt is uniquely qualified to explain both Machiavelli’s ideas and their relevance to the complicated political situation of his day. Rather than a “mirror book” advising rulers, The Prince
prophesied the end of the feudal era and the birth of the neoclassical state. Using both Renaissance examples and cases drawn from the current era, Bobbitt shows Machiavelli’s work is both profoundly moral and inherently constitutional, a turning point in our understanding of the relation between war, law, and the state.