In the annals of instruction on leadership and statecraft, Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince (1513) was the break from the idealism of the virtues of antiquity and Christianity and the handbook for pragmatists and realists more concerned with the ends than the means of the preservation and advancement of the interests of the modern state. In previous issues, I have highlighted portions of James MacGregor Burns’ Leadership on the difference between transactional and transformational leadership, and the difference it makes. Now comes The Modern Prince, by Carnes Lord, which I am now completing. Basically, it is a tour of the “best regime” theories of the Greeks, the theories and best practices of a number of successful leaders, including the American Founders, some of the wisdom of Burns with a little of George Wills’ “statecraft as soulcraft” added, and some practical ideas on approaches to some of the most challenging leadership problems of the 21st century. In the end, Lord is a small “r” republican in the tradition of our founding, he shares my bias toward transformational leadership and the practice of “soulcraft”, and he offers much to ponder as he places Machiavelli’s lessons in the current context. Well done.
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