A new biography of Niccolò Machiavelli by British historian and University of Warwick research fellow Alexander Lee is distinguished by its length and fullness, and particularly by the manner and extent of the context the author provides for his subject. On the basis of letters (which are few), ambassadorial reports (which are impersonal), and many various writings in which Machiavelli discloses (and hides) himself, a biography of his everyday life is constructed, with probable suppositions of what he “would have” said, thought, and felt. We see Machiavelli declared to be despondent, cheerful, weary, disgusted, dissatisfied, happy, etc., with virtual contextualization, as if but not actually from a computer working with Renaissance algorithms. At the same time, a very useful account of the political (more than the intellectual) events of his times is made available, so that one can see where his thoughts “might have” come from and been directed to. The result is a Machiavelli saturated with everydayness, the sort of person we can get to know without having to strain to understand.

To that end, he is referred to by his first name throughout the biography (except for its title), giving readers closer, even intimate access to the man at the bearable cost of a certain condescension from his biographer (whom I won’t call Alex). To fit into the context our

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