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Is “the enemy” still
the greatest danger ?

From the Trojan War to the Hundred Years War to the Cold War, the centre of the Prince's concerns was always his enemy, from whom most dangers were seen to emanate. But is that still the case today?

In his new book on the exercise of power, which borrows its title from Machiavelli's The Prince, published five hundred years ago, Percy Kemp challenges the received wisdom that the main threat to the Prince must always come from his enemies.

Starting from the observation that the world has changed far more in the past hundred years or so than in the three or four previous millennia, he raises this bold hypothesis: in today's world, the main threat to the Prince derives from the speeding up of History. With the number of events multiplying to infinity, this acceleration prevents him from managing to his advantage an ever increasing mass of unforeseen circumstances – thus opening up numberless opportunities for his enemies to assail him.

He also argues convincingly that, unlike Alexander with Darius, Napoleon with Wellington, or even Kennedy with Khrushchev, the modern day Prince's mastery over the world is no longer determined by his ability to subjugate his enemy but by the extent of his control over the flood of events. And his success in exercising power durably, depends, in turn, on the degree to which he is able to exercise control over himself.

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