Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Art of War was written between the year 1519 and 1520. The book is divided into a preface and seven chapters in the form of dialogues which took place in a garden between Cosimo Rucellai and Lord Fabrizio Colonna. Rucellai is actually Machiavelli’s childhood friend who died while they were young. Meanwhile, Fabrizio is the disguised Machiavelli himself.
Machiavelli (1521) has noted in the preface of the book that “the military is like the roof of a palazzo protecting the contents”.
The dialogues were purposely written specifically “to honor and reward, not to have contempt for poverty, to esteem the modes and orders of military discipline, to constrain citizens to love one another, to live without factions, to esteem less the private than the public good”.
The book (1521) illustrates that Fabrizio is fascinated with the Roman Legions of the early to mid Republic and convincingly supports their adoption to the contemporary situation of Renaissance Florence. Machiavelli may have written this book well having been selected as an official historian of Florence the year before the publication of the book and he was assigned with simple civil duties part of his assignment.
The book is rich with knowledge, wisdom and insights as shared by Fabrizio in the dialogues. He is shown with a superior knowledge stating, among others, the ways which an army must be raised, trained, organized, employed and deployed.
His theories are taken on a comprehensive study and analysis of classical and contemporary military practices. On the contrary, he underestimated the efficiency of firearms and cavalry when his concept of copying Roman practices has been gradually and practically used by many rulers and commanders, most notably Maurice of Nassau and Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden.
These rulers would later lay the foundations for the system of Linear Tactics which would dominate the warfare of Europe and the world until after the Napoleonic Wars.
The Art of War (1521) is considered to be the single most popular military treatise in Europe. Initially, the book may appear to revitalize the infantry-centered military organization of the imperial Roman legions which may not be relevant to today’s times. The book is not very relevant today since it failed to value the social and technological trends. The Art of War may be considered a humanistic treatise on the subject of war, written under the form of dialogues and divided in seven books or chapters.
Machiavelli (1521) loathed the people of his time as weak, but he also believed on the possibility of a “perpetual republic” that would solve the weakness of the moderns and correct the errors of the Romans and in doing so would be able to put up a political order no longer subject to the vicissitudes of fortune.
Whether Machiavelli could have had so grand an ambition remains controversial, but all agree on his greatness—his novelty, the penetration of his mind, and the grace of his style.
The world nowadays is more concerned with overcoming the terrorists that abound the universe today. Every government specifically the government of the United States is determined to end terrorist activities at whatever cost. The weaponry and the military tactics may have transformed in the most modern ways but what is important is that the leaders would face the challenge in such a good way. The book may not be relevant in many ways in today’s times but it is still a good reference material.