Few political advisors have been as revered and reviled as Niccolo Machiavelli, and The Prince will show you why. Machiavelli, a diplomat, originally wrote The Prince as advice to the Florentine ruler Lorenzo de Medici. It is significant as one of the earliest political treatises to concern itself with the practicalities of getting power and holding on to it, rather than justifying a ruler's right to that power. Its clear-eyed defense of morally dubious practices has earned it both fierce criticism and praise, and it remains as controversial today as when it was first published in 1532, some five years after Machiavelli's death. The Prince is an indispensable book for all who wish to understand state politics or the history of European political thought.