Machiavelli taught that political leaders must be prepared to do evil that good may come of it. Offering the first brief introduction to Machiavelli's thought to appear in twenty-five years, Skinner focuses on his three major works, The Prince, Discourses, and The History of Florence. He discusses the influence of Roman moral thought on Machiavelli, concentrating on the extent to which Machiavelli's teachings represent a reaction against this tradition. Placing Machiavelli in the proper social and intellectual context, Skinner reveals the extraordinary originality of his attack on the prevailing moral and political assumptions of his age.
Quentin Skinner is Professor of Political Science at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Christ's College. His The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, published in 1978, won a Wolfson Literary Award.