Be Like the Fox

Machiavelli's Lifelong Quest for Freedom

Erica Benner

BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK

'A rich, vivid and endlessly surprising portrayal of the man and his times' Tracey Borman, BBC History Magazine

'Splendidly colourful ... does a wonderful job of bringing to life Florentine society - the world of the piazzas, the courts, the battlefields' Catherine Fletcher, Literary Review

'Enthralling and moving' Rosamund Bartlett author of Tolstoy: A Russian Life

Niccolò Machiavelli lived in a fiercely competitive world, one where brute wealth, brazen liars and ruthless self-promoters seemed to carry off all the prizes; where the wealthy elite grew richer at the expense of their fellow citizens. In times like these, many looked to crusading religion to solve their problems, or they turned to a new breed of leaders - super-rich dynasties like the Medici or military strongmen like Cesare Borgia; upstarts from outside the old ruling classes. In the republic of Florence, Machiavelli and his contemporaries faced a choice: should they capitulate to these new princes, or fight to save the city's democratic freedoms?

Be Like the Fox follows Machiavelli's dramatic quest for political and human freedom through his own eyes. Masterfully interweaving his words with those of his friends and enemies, Erica Benner breathes life into his penetrating, comical, often surprising comments on events. Far from the cynical henchman people think he was, Machiavelli emerges as his era's staunchest champion of liberty, a profound ethical thinker who refused to compromise his ideals to fit corrupt times. But he did sometimes have to mask his true convictions, becoming a great artist of fox-like dissimulation: a master of disguise in dangerous times.

  • Allen Lane
  • Published 1st March 2017
  • 384 Pages
  • 160mm x 238mm x 34mm
  • 636g
  • £20.00