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The work of Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) has a variety of meanings for different interpreters. Some attribute to him a new 'scientific method' of drawing conclusions from practical or historical experience in order to form rules for successful political behaviour, with its emphasis on man's behavioural patterns rather than on moral precepts as a basis for politics. Others attribute to him a belief in the autonomy of the state - that the state is a structure governed by its own laws of development and that it finds its justification only in terms of its success. Others again emphasise his republicanism and see him as a theorist of the modern state. [Some believe his first name is the proper basis of an appellation of the Devil.]

Although a lucid writer in many respects, the metaphorical way in which Machiavelli expressed some of his key concepts and his preference for working through examples rather that elaborating principles has given much scope for debate about his actual intentions. These volumes present in chronological order the most significant articles on Machiavelli written in the 20th century and offer a representative selection of the numerous interpretations of his work.

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