Apparently I never clearly understood the term ‘Machiavellian’. I always assumed out of context that it meant being manipulative to the extreme. While the manipulative aspect is definitely still there, it’s a different form of manipulation. It’s when and how to manipulate, not to ignore it as it would not be right. That’s maybe a subtle difference, but it changes everything.
The world will carry on regardless of your good intent and you sometimes simply need to fight fire with fire. The Prince gives an overview of when such occasions might arise when in government (or in this specific case, while being a prince). Yet its lessons are applicable to different fields as well. Once that idea settles in, the book becomes a good read and (in hindsight not surprisingly) a potential strategy guide for the Civilization computer game series.