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In the 16th century, Niccolo Macchiavelli’s The Prince became a huge hit among kings and politicians.
The book suggested certain immoral ways to rule a kingdom, with famous advice like ‘The end justifies the means’. The guidelines resonated so much that the book is still a huge influence.
Self-published in the 19th century, ‘Self-help’ by Samuel Smiles illustrated and executed the power of perseverance.
It was an international bestseller, kickstarting the ‘self-help’ genre itself after making the publishing industry sit up and take notice.
In the 16th Century, Robert Burton wrote about the human condition, which can be classified as melancholy, a big book consisting of sad tales about everything, but written in a simple, readable style.
It was like an encyclopedia of misery, with the writer meditating on sad things just to keep his mind off them.
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A cheery mood, we might think, is a terribly self-absorbed response to serious times. But history tells us otherwise.