360 pages, Da Capo Press, ISBN-13: 978-0306817564
For pleasure readers of history and armchair time travelers, 16th Century Italy (and Florence in particular) are favorite haunts. Who would've thought that Niccolo Machiavelli would be such an enjoyable traveling companion? Far from a shadowy character, Machiavelli was in the middle of just about anything and everything: full of piss and vinegar, ego, humor, political fervor, and dreams. While at his peak, his life among the great and powerful of Europe was a roller-coaster; after his fall, his struggle for place and purpose was poignant. The author researched and annotated this book as a scholar, but he unfolds the tale like your favorite dinner guest. The writing is bright, clever and insightful. His personal translations of historic documents are fresh and often fun. No historical novel will transport you quite like a good historical biography, such as this. If all you've read is Machiavelli's “The Prince” you've missed the best part of the story. Find it here.