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.
Public Domain (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
I'm about halfway through this book as of writing this review, however as most of those interested in the book will be familiar with the contents I think I have sufficient knowledge about what this review is truly about. Namely, the quality of translation and the quality of the narration.
The narration of the book is excellent, it is clear and pleasant to the ears, consistent and makes it an easy and entertaining read.
In regards to the translation, it appears also to be of a high quality, the translator in elaborating some of his concerns regarding some of the more difficult passages, has clearly taken great care to give us the closest possibly aproximation of Machiavelli's own words, in English.
It is to be said however, that the introductory essay is too long, drawn out and in my opinion, not even remotely interesting.
For those of you who agree with me on this, skip to about 50-60 minutes into the book to reach the beginning of Machiavelli's work, as everything prior is the translator's own musings on Machiavelli.
"intriguing ,but not as relevant as The Prince"
While sometimes reading more like a rennasance manual on field tactics than a phillosophical treatment on the subject, The Art of War fills in the gaps for those who wish to understand more about the world that sparked Machiavelli's ideas in The Prince. Why did he hate mercenaries so much? What were the historical stories (or antecdotes) that were behind his political policies? What was his view as an experienced millitary man about the rising importance of firearms in battle?
The narrator does a pretty good job on all the characters (the book is arranged as a Socratic dialogue) and also includes two long-winded and somewhat controversial essays before and after the book. I feel listening to the essays helped me understand the book better. However, despite any evidence to support this claim, the writer of these essays tends to go off on sensationlist tangents about how the real enemy Machiavelli was fighting against was Christianity. That and maybe the overly- detailed army camp and formation plans were really my only complaints with the book. In conclusion, read The Prince first, if your still interested, listen to this next.
I liked the book. And had no trouble with the narration. The differed people speaking are recognizable by their voice. But not in a bad way. The translator really loves Niccolo Machiavelli, and it show in the piece after the book itself. But the translation is a bit, maybe outdated, to stay close to the original may be the best way to put it. Just listen to the preview, and you have a good taste of what it is.
"Great Book, Lousey Narration, Silly Editors Note"
This is one of the classics of military science. It is dramatically underrated and unappreciated by most. As a book it is a wonderful source of information and history. For those reasons it is worth listening to. I can wholeheartedly recommend it. Anyone interested in pre-20th Century Military History SHOULD read this book.
But the narration and the edition are poor at best. The narrator was confronted with a problem, the book is in the form of a dialog between a hardened veteran and a number of neophytes. Unfortunately he decided to exaggerate the difference so that the veteran is narrated in a really gruff voice that is so odd that it makes it hard to listen to. The other problem is that the translators essays are silly. They are in fact both irrelevant and really rather bizarre.
In sum: The book - 5 stars; the narration 3 stars; the editor's notes and essays - 1 star at best. Since one can always skip the editors notes, I have averaged it to 4 stars.
"Good Translation and Reading"
The Christopher Lynch translation with an interesting essay/interpretation (around two hours) about Machiavelli and The Art of War after the book.
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