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
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.
I love history, but I have never read (or listened) to a book about the history of Venice. This book is really not about the city of Venice, but about the influence that Venice had on the period of history from approximately 1000 to 1600. It was like listening to a well thought out story. Honestly I could hardly stop listening, and when it was finished I felt like I had lost a friend. It was that good. Mr. Crowley also wrote a book 'Empires of the Sea' which is equally as good. I would recommend both books to those who love history and those who love a riveting story. I hope that Mr. Crowley rights many many more books as he has a unique knack for interwinding facts with insight of those who were alive at that time. Again, simply a wonderfully good book.
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 skipped chapters praying book would end. No excitement, ignoring most exciting history: US/Austria at end of 1800. Loveless dry IEEE stuff
History before this audible on Venice was all US and Western Europe with never a mention of the Venetian Empire epic years of 10th to 15th century, covered in this narrative. Even Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" a historic mystery until now.
The narrator is superb, keeps the pace absorbing, every interesting. .
The revelation of the that impelled Western Europe to bypass Venice's monopoly and find new routes to India and China. The forces that what impelled Columbus, a Genoan, to seek passage around the Ottomans and Venice, and thus discover the new world.
How Venice Ruled European riches, 10th to 15th Century Europe, a Europe then in the Dark Ages, until the Ottoman Empire paralyzed Venice and further impelled Europe to find new routs to the riches of Asia, India and China.
It covers parts of Europe and Asia little known to any European and American, due to the life-long myth making and pride and self-absorption in Western European and American Histories, and how they ignore the glory of historic forces impelling these Histories.
A mountain of information and impressive research and vivid word pictures with sensuous nothing held back excitement. Conveyed the human characters in near cinematic exactness. The writer is not timid in wording the way is was, a standout in writing that keeps the listener absorbed.
Oh yes. But alas, the depth and length of the book made me, at times, have to return to earth and get on with daily life. But left a deep longing for my to return to the narration.
I have been listening to books, lectures and internet downloads for years now and this book is an stunning stand-our experience.
Businessman, Technologist, Marketer. Loves to learn and enjoys books. Mostly nonfiction plus historic novels.
I was a little disappointed in that this book covers mostly military history. but it is good. There is a lot of detail of battles and military actions, but it was always entertaining and insightful. The details add context and color to the stories. feels like a well researched book.
It left me wanting more. more stories, especially as it focuses on a somewhat narrow time frame. I was left wanting a book that would cover Venice's art, culture, architecture, and society - most of which are not talked about in this book.
This is a good overview of how Venice came to power, how the merchants controlled the republic and how the city finally fell because they lost control over the trading routes.
It starts with a very long section on the Venetian role in the Crusades. As I have already done extensive readings on the Crusades, this was repetitive. A couple of hundred pages cannot provide much new insight and can only give the most superficial coverage to this extraordinary period in European history. If you don't know much about the Crusades, this should definitely whet your appetite: the characters, strategies, technological advantages and the cruelty of almost all of the players is more intricate than "Game of Thrones" - and should keep anyone on the edge of their seat.
The other two thirds of the book gave me quite a few new perspectives and insights. The book is well written and narrated. I would certainly recommend it to anyone planning to visit Venice who does not really understand what all the fuss was about.
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