The rise and fall of the Venetian empire stands unrivaled for drama, intrigue, and sheer opulent majesty. In City of Fortune, Roger Crowley, acclaimed historian and New York Times bestselling author of Empires of the Sea, applies his narrative skill to chronicling the astounding five-hundred-year voyage of Venice to the pinnacle of power. Tracing the full arc of the Venetian imperial saga for the first time, City of Fortune is framed around two of the great collisions of world history: The ill-fated Fourth Crusade, which culminated in the sacking of Constantinople and the carve-up of the Byzantine Empire in 1204, and the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1499–1503, which saw the Ottoman Turks supplant the Venetians as the preeminent naval power in the Mediterranean. In between were three centuries of Venetian maritime dominance—years of plunder and plague, conquest and piracy—during which a tiny city of “lagoon dwellers” grew into the richest place on earth.
Drawing on firsthand accounts of pitched sea battles, skillful negotiations, and diplomatic maneuvers, Crowley paints a vivid picture of this avaricious, enterprising people and the bountiful lands that came under their dominion. Defiant of emperors, indifferent to popes, the Venetians saw themselves as reluctant freebooters, compelled to take to the open seas “because we cannot live otherwise and know not how except by trade.” From the opening of the spice routes to the clash between Christianity and Islam, Venice played a leading role in the defining conflicts of its time—the reverberations of which are still being felt today. Only an author with Roger Crowley’s deep knowledge of post-Crusade history could put these iconic events into their proper context. Epic in scope, magisterial in its understanding of the period, City of Fortune is narrative history at its most engrossing.
©2011 Roger Crowley (P)2013 Recorded Books
Near the top of my list, City of Fortune enabled me to understand the rise and fall of the Venetian empire and its interaction with the Byzantines, Rome, Genoa, and the Turks.
The Iliad. It is a story of heroes and their follies.
I have not, but he is a spectacular narrator.
The moment when Enrico Dandolo, the old blind doge, outwits the Turks and takes Constantinople.
I love history and enjoy reading different books about the past. I like to joke that I have read many books about the outcome at Gettysburg, but no matter how many I read the outcome remains the same! I do find it interesting and fascinating to get different takes and outlooks on the same events.
The story is beautifully crafted and the narrator did a splendid job of presenting the story of how Venice became such an important city-state.
I would compare it to stories about other great city-states, such as the ancient Greek cities of Athens and Sparta. Each of these cities had developed a personality and skill set that, while not exclusively their own, was the pinnacle of each city's success.
He can speak Italian beautifully and presents the story in a brilliant fashion. Bravo!
It really was. I found it informative, fascinating, and extremely well presented.
If the reader has any interest in European History during the five hundred years between 1000 and 1500, this is a wonderful main avenue to take a gondola ride upon.
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