The Borgias: The Hidden History Audiobook | G. J. Meyer | Audible.com
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The Borgias: The Hidden History | [G. J. Meyer]

The Borgias: The Hidden History

The startling truth behind one of the most notorious dynasties in history is revealed in a remarkable new account by the acclaimed author of The Tudors and A World Undone. Sweeping aside the gossip, slander, and distortion that have shrouded the Borgias for centuries, G. J. Meyer offers an unprecedented portrait of the infamous Renaissance family and their storied milieu.
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Publisher's Summary

The startling truth behind one of the most notorious dynasties in history is revealed in a remarkable new account by the acclaimed author of The Tudors and A World Undone. Sweeping aside the gossip, slander, and distortion that have shrouded the Borgias for centuries, G. J. Meyer offers an unprecedented portrait of the infamous Renaissance family and their storied milieu.

The Borgias

They burst out of obscurity in Spain not only to capture the great prize of the papacy, but to do so twice. Throughout a tumultuous half-century - as popes, statesmen, warriors, lovers, and breathtakingly ambitious political adventurers - they held center stage in the glorious and blood-drenched pageant known to us as the Italian Renaissance, standing at the epicenter of the power games in which Europe’s kings and Italy’s warlords gambled for life-and-death stakes.

Five centuries after their fall - a fall even more sudden than their rise to the heights of power - they remain immutable symbols of the depths to which humanity can descend: Rodrigo, the Borgia who bought the papal crown and prostituted the Roman Church; Cesare, the Borgia who became first a teenage cardinal and then the most treacherous cutthroat of a violent time; Lucrezia, the Borgia as shockingly immoral as she was beautiful. These have long been stock figures in the dark chronicle of European villainy, their name synonymous with unspeakable evil.

But did these Borgias of legend actually exist? Grounding his narrative in exhaustive research and drawing from rarely examined key sources, Meyer brings fascinating new insight to the real people within the age-encrusted myth. Equally illuminating is the light he shines on the brilliant circles in which the Borgias moved and the thrilling era they helped to shape, a time of wars and political convulsions that reverberate to the present day, when Western civilization simultaneously wallowed in appalling brutality and soared to extraordinary heights. Stunning in scope, rich in telling detail, G. J. Meyer’s The Borgias is an indelible work sure to become the new standard on a family and a world that continue to enthrall.

©2013 G. J. Meyer (P)2013 Random House Audio

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  •  
    CAROLINE ESTES PARK, CO, United States 08-02-13
    CAROLINE ESTES PARK, CO, United States 08-02-13 Member Since 2009

    Passionate book lover, passionate reader, lover of history, how will I read every book before I die ?

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    "Marvelous !"

    I have read a lot of books about the Borgias, and of all those on my bookshelf (actual volumes on the shelf, as well as audiobooks) this is far and away my favorite. I loved the author's approach, which for one thing takes the reader back to the very FIRST Borgia Pope (and here I didn't even realize that there WAS any other Borgia Pope than Rodrigo), and fills in all the lacunae which other authors have ignored. I found every detail fascinating because I really want to understand the events in Italy of this time period, and the details are what create a rich picture of the times for those of us who are looking back 1500 years. I also cannot imagine a more wonderful narrator for this book. He carried me along with him on this fascinating journey with his rich, mellifluous tones, and that was truly the icing on the cake, great marriage of narrator with material. If you are interested in the history of early Renaissance Italy, you should love this book !

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Charlottesville, VA, United States 04-18-13
    Carol Charlottesville, VA, United States 04-18-13 Member Since 2007
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    "excellent book-but requires attention"

    This is a fascinating, historical re-imaging of the Borgias. HOWEVER, it is not a book that you can listen to while doing something else. Because the author takes the time to fill in the background situation, you learn as much about the history of the Italian city-states as about the Borgias. This is very useful, because it puts the Borgias into the culture of the time, in order to understand both the charges against the Borgias and the brutal culture of the times, but also reasons that the charges were exaggerated beyond recognition. While some would find the background details interesting, I could understand frustration with those who just wanted to get to the main subject. It is also one of those books that might be easier read than listened to.

    However, if you are a real history buff, and have the patience to listen with care, this is one of the finest histories of the politics of the Italian Renaissance I have come across. It has taken me a little longer than usual to finish, but I have never been bored and have enjoyed every minute.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barry Dubuque, IA, United States 12-17-13
    Barry Dubuque, IA, United States 12-17-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Absolutely nothing wrong with this audiobook"
    Where does The Borgias rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This audiobook is excellent in every respect. Its a GJ Meyer book, so the narrative style is spellbinding. I have listened to his other books as well, e.g. The World Undone and The Tudors, and his book on the Borgias is just as enjoyable.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Borgias?

    GJ Meyer turns the entire sprawling anti-Borgia conspiracy on its head. This is sorely needed revisinist history, delivered in a very enjoyable fashion.


    What does Enn Reitel bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I dont really notice the narrator - that's how good he is. He just fades into the background, which makes for a great audiobook.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Augustus T. White Houston 09-23-13
    Augustus T. White Houston 09-23-13 Member Since 2006

    ATW

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    "The Borgias in a mirror"

    This is a really nice history of the Borgias, combining lots of crunchy background details with intriguing ideas about the key players. As others have pointed out, this is mainly a defense of the Borgias.

    Of course, nobody can make saints out of any of the families that played the power game in Renaissance Italy. Meyer's approach is simply to ask the valid question, "let's just assume that the Borgias were, generally, not monsters -- but just the normal sort of power-hungry egomaniacs who rose to power in that time and place? Can that theory be made consistent with the actual historical record?"

    The answer seems to be yes ... or sort of ... more or less. Meyer quite properly rejects the usual fables about incest, orgies, sadism, and the 50 other shades of really, really dark grey which usually pass for historical facts about the Borgias. On the other hand, he can still only make sense of the Borgias by uncritically accepting all the other fables and stereotypes of all the other leading characters of the time, from the Ottomans to the Sforzas. Even then, Cesare comes off looking rather psychotic (but neither depraved nor foolish).

    So, draw your own conclusion on the thesis. The book -- right or wrong -- seems to be a successful attempt to walk the line between fairly serious scholarship and entertainment

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    calvin Waukegan, IL, United States 06-13-13
    calvin Waukegan, IL, United States 06-13-13
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    "The Borgias better than the tv show"
    If you could sum up The Borgias in three words, what would they be?

    Better than the TV show


    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved all the additional details regarding the Borja family. I enjoyed the writer's objectivity. It was as if he was a defense attorney for the Borgia family. He presented sound reason to illustrate why the Borgias were not the villians, of the Middle Ages.


    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 04-19-13
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 04-19-13 Member Since 2010

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

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    "A New Look At Old Myths"

    G. J. Meyer has a clear and engaging writing style that makes it easy to listen too but there is a lot of information so one must listen carefully. The book is well-research and provides some food for thought. The author tried to exonerate Rodrigo Borgia (pope name-Alexander VI). Meyer discounts most of the stories ever recorded that are negative to the Borgia's reputations. He chooses the best possible interpretation of all surviving written evidence. But he does acknowledge some of the darker myths. Anyone interested in the great families of Renaissance Italy should consider this book. History buffs will enjoy this book. Enn Reitel does a great job of narrating the book.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
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  • Mr
    Peterborough, United Kingdom
    8/1/13
    Overall
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    "Great story... Impossible narration"
    Where does The Borgias rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    For story, it's great. For narration, it's in my bottom five audiobooks ever.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    All of the Borgias were interesting in their own ways.


    Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Enn Reitel?

    Somebody. Who. Can. Read. And. It. Doesn't.


    Sound. Like. There. Is. A. Full. Stop. After. Every. Word. And.



    No. Random. Pauses.


    Any additional comments?

    Please reissue this with a different narrator. Not only is the reading stilted, but there are obvious mispronunciations (beau-dlian library Oxford).

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • J. Jones
    UK
    2/25/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not so great"
    Would you try another book written by G. J. Meyer or narrated by Enn Reitel?

    Yes to author - no to narrator


    What was most disappointing about G. J. Meyer’s story?

    It might be me but I love books about the Borgias, Popes, The Vatican, Medieval history in general but this just sounded like a list of historical moments e.g. this happened, then that happened, then this happened, then that happened etc. etc. etc.


    Did Enn Reitel do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

    There weren't any characters it was one long yawn really


    Did The Borgias inspire you to do anything?

    Yes listen to the samples before buying anything


    Any additional comments?

    No not really worth my finger power typing YAWN

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • MRS
    Wakefield, United Kingdom
    1/4/14
    Overall
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    "not enough about the borgias"
    What disappointed you about The Borgias?

    it had too much information about the catholic church and other popes


    Would you ever listen to anything by G. J. Meyer again?

    no


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    didn't detract but the content was a bit dry


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Borgias?

    most of the book


    Any additional comments?

    if you want to know about challenges for the catholic church and the choice of popes this is for you

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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