Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Prince

The Prince (or Il Principe, if you prefer the original Italian) is a political treatise that was published in 1532 and has been creating controversy ever since. A translation of the text can be read for free online here.

Self-described as a realistic take on leadership, The Prince contains advice and suggestions for how to best govern people, acquire and maintain territory, and deal with enemies. It is known for an emphasis on guile, expediency, and deception. According to Machiavelli, the sole intent of any political action is to keep the power structure in place through any means necessary. The Prince was infamous and also well distributed, so many people have read it throughout history. It was declaimed for its godlessness, disregard for common decency, and its blind devotion to despotism. Its content and reputation lead to the author Machiavelli's name becoming an adjective meaning deceptive and dishonest.

More recently, some have posited that Machiavelli's treatise is so over-the-top that it was actually meant as a satire, but this is a minority opinion. A number of scholars, including Don MacDonald, have spoken out to debunk such modern revisionism.

This adaptation of the book was created by Shane Clester who is also Art Director for Round Table Comics. He captures the aphoristic tone of the book in his illustrations, providing some dark humor and levity to the political situations depicted. His love of drawing pantaloons and a wily little tow-headed prince also shine through.

Certainly the political situations contained within would be worthwhile points to bring up regarding politics and government in any era. Clester highlights areas that could generate good discussion within the text, and it would be interesting to compare his interpretations with those in the original. Going beyond uses in social studies, educator Katie Monnin gave the book an A+ and also provided some teaching tips for using it in ELA classes.

The Prince was published by Round Table Comics. A preview and a number of reviews are available here at

Thank you, Kristin, for the review copy!

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