The Garments of Court and Palace: Machiavelli and the World that He Made

Philip Bobbitt. Atlantic Monthly, $24 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2074-8
In this work of historical, philosophical, and political examination, Bobbitt (Terror and Consent) plugs Niccolo Machiavelli's controversial masterpiece, The Prince, into its proper context, one that Bobbitt asserts has gone overlooked by most scholars: constitutionalism. He spices up even his layout of the most popular misconceptions regarding Machiavelli with the impartible thrill of tumbling these dusty—not to mention contradictory—assumptions. An historical overview not only contextualizes major events in Machiavelli's life within Florence's shifting feudal environment but also highlights how influential a political leader he remained until his fall. Correcting misapprehensions, Bobbitt establishes Machiavelli as a political oracle of sorts who perceived the soft boil of a new governmental order at a time when most couldn't see beyond the boundaries of feudalism. In debunking larger myths, he upsets smaller inaccuracies as well, unraveling misunderstandings regarding both the true translation of Machiavelli's "virtù" and the political forecaster's role as "apostle of modernity". While Bobbitt frequently segues from the feudal to the modern era to properly illuminate a concepts, latter sections of his book see him focus intensely on the present, and on how Machiavellian means of viewing an agitated state order may prove especially helpful now. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/25/2013
Release date: 06/01/2013
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