• The Machiavellians

  • Defenders of Freedom
  • By: James Burnham
  • Narrated by: Jeff Riggenbach
  • Length: 9 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (587 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This classic work of political theory and practice offers an account of the modern Machiavellians, a remarkable group who have been influential in Europe and practically unknown in the United States. The book devotes a long section to Machiavelli himself as well as to such modern Machiavellians as Gaetano Mosca, Georges Sorel, Robert Michels and Vilfredo Pareto. Burnham contends that the writings of these men hold the key both to the truth about politics and to the preservation of political liberty.
©1943 James Burnham (P)1998 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Burnham is the greatest political analyst of our century and this is his best book." ( National Review, 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of the Century)

What listeners say about The Machiavellians

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Fine intro to an authentic science of politics

The "Machiavellian" writers Burnham discusses span a rather diverse spectrum of views. What they have in common is an objective, scientific approach to politics that avoids allowing wishful thinking, or ideas about what ought to be, to impede their discernment of the way things actually are.

I disagreed with Burnham's tendency to dismiss religious ideas as inherently irrationalist. Also, his attempt at clarification in response to Machiavelli's reputation ignores the fact that Machiavelli did, after all, offer some amoral advice, not just non-moral analysis. While some of Burnhams predictions proved correct only in the short run, his method contains within itself the the capacity for self-correction, which is part of the whole point of the book.

This book remains invaluable for all who seek to develop a scientific understanding of politics, regardless of their philosophical persuasion.

16 people found this helpful

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Serious political science

The narration could drone, but the content was excellent. Many sections worth re-listening to and bookmarking. Filled with political myth busting and strategies and structures for preserving liberty in the real world.

5 people found this helpful

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very interesting book, terrible intro. skip ch 1..

this book has an entire first chapter written by a critic.. wedged into the work. this is a shameful attempt to prejudice the reader and frame the book from the perspective a critic.. publishers may not agree with authors opinions, however they would do better to simply publish other works critical rather than attempting to re frame a work with what effectively amounts to a trigger warning..

4 people found this helpful

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Insightful and predictive

In brief, this book offers a scientific (i e. falsifiable) analysis of politics. it's conclusions and predictions have held up well in the 80 years since it's publication. If there is a quibble, it's over the audio production, which is clearly a transfer from tape. there are a few volume and stitching issues that are jarring when they infrequently happen, but other than that it's easy to listen to.

2 people found this helpful

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Mediocrity

The best use of time would be to read Machiavelli. Mediocre academics only serves the academics.

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Outstanding

This should be required reading/listening for Americans. But, then again,books. Hopefully still in print.

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Vry Insightful

An honest and realistic investigation of political science. Well narrated. A must read for all serious political philosophy students.

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Machiavelli explained

A brilliant first exposure for me to Machiavellian thought and political science, with fascinating insights that still have relevance today despite being written 80 years ago.

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must listen

any thinking person who has interests in the trajectory of society and in politics must listen and contemplate.

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Conclusion is correct

The book is a little dry at times. More of an academic book. The ending conclusion is correct. Everyone should read the final few paragraphs. Politicians are dangerous people and should be under great scrutiny anytime they place restrictions on liberty.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-16-22

A must read for the politically interested

An absolute must read for anyone trying to get a proper understanding of the fundamentals of politics. Once the truths of this book are revealed to you, you can't help but see it everywhere around you. Do yourself a favor and read this..

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  • elvijs
  • 09-20-21

society and politics

Great Book !
It does really put politics's and society's relationship in comprehensible perspective for a average human being.
This book should be read in high school before 18 or before someone is allowed to vote.
Thank you.

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  • Sean Larkin
  • 03-24-21

A real grind but worth it

I will need to return to the book again in the future as it's a lot to take in, still digesting some of the information a day on. I'm coming away from the book enlightened some what but really need to research parts myself.
Definitely worth the listen especially if you are interested in politics.

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  • Alex Kaschuta
  • 07-06-20

Most important book on politics

Absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in the nature of the political animal and how the world actually works.

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  • John
  • 07-03-22

must read/listen

Opens your eyes to the reality of the world you live in. Chapter 2 sums it up really well. Separates how we want the world to work vs how it actually works.

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  • Emir
  • 03-01-21

A Must Read

Possibly the most important book to read today. Largely due to it shining light on the great thinker Niccolo Machiavelli and his political tradition. Not enough has been said about the truth discovered by this man. People are openly rejecting Machiavellism because it is the definition of a Red Pill and maybe even a Black Pill, that is to say it is a very inconvenient but absolute truth. I actually wish there was a simpler and more concise book which showed this but this seems to be the best one in the modern day