In 1975, political thinker Mr JGA Pocock published a book that seemed to define the contemporary mood. The Machiavellian Moment took the ideas of Renaissance Italy and transposed them to the new country that emerged out of the American Revolution. However, the parallels between this account of the embryonic US and the country at the time of Mr Pocock’s writing, ravaged by the fallout of the Vietnam conflict and the Watergate scandal, were obvious.
“American historians have since associated Machiavelli’s name with that form of political crisis,” argues Mr Patrick Boucheron, medieval historian and author of Machiavelli: The Art Of Teaching People What To Fear. “And today, we are undeniably living through another Machiavellian moment, again bringing the Florentine author close to the core of American reality.”
Despite spending much of his political career in lowly positions and then living in exile, 16th-century diplomat, philosopher, writer and historian Mr Niccolò Machiavelli’s reputation extends to the present day. The definition of a Renaissance man, working in numerous roles, his most influential work, The Prince, wasn’t published until five years after his death, in 1532. “Within 50 years of Machiavelli’s death, The Prince had taken its place on the Catholic Church’s Index of Forbidden Books as a work of the devil,” says Mr Boucheron.