An extraordinary chronicle of Venice, its people, and its grandeur Thomas Madden’s majestic, sprawling history of Venice is the first full portrait of the city in English in almost thirty years. Using long-buried archival material and a wealth of newly translated documents, Madden weaves a spellbinding story of a place and its people, tracing an arc from the city’s humble origins as a lagoon refuge to its apex as a vast maritime empire and Renaissance epicenter to its rebirth as a modern tourist hub. Madden explores all aspects of Venice’s breathtaking achievements: the construction of its unparalleled navy, its role as an economic powerhouse and birthplace of capitalism, its popularization of opera, the stunning architecture of its watery environs, and more. He sets these in the context of the rise and fall of the Byzantine Empire, the endless waves of Crusades to the Holy Land, and the awesome power of Turkish sultans. And perhaps most critically, Madden corrects the stereotype of Shakespeare’s money-lending Shylock that has distorted the Venetian character, uncovering instead a much more complex and fascinating story, peopled by men and women whose ingenuity and deep faith profoundly altered the course of civilization.
©2012 Thomas F. Madden (P)2012 Recorded Books
I listened to this shortly after returning from my first visit to Venice.
It's a dramatic story, with vivid and memorable personalities. The writing is clear and elegant and overall fun to listen to. The people and the city come alive in all their colorful dimensions.
The author provides a very holistic view of Venice, covering everything from its artwork and architecture to its politics and history. It offers a great balance between narrative and scholarly detail. A must-read for any student of history. The performance is also well done, with the speaker clearly knowledgeable on Italian.
student of life
Edoardo Ballerini speaks slowly and with perfect emphasis for telling what could be a boring history lesson. He brings it all to life, adding in perfect Italian pronunciation. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to this history lesson!
I was pleasantly surprised by the length of this book. I think it achieves its goal of combining better attention to facts/accuracy (as opposed to legend) with a more interesting style of writing than, say, a history textbook.
In an effort to dispute the legends/stereotypes of Venetians being misers and tricksters, the book attempts to show their side of the story. I tend to think that yes, it is very unlikely that all venetians were greed motivated and sneaky. But I also think that it's just as unlikely that the Venetians were never ever ever at fault for anything that happened to them over a period of many centuries. I think that the author favors the Venetians so strongly that it makes them out to be the victims of everything when in reality, it's probable that sometimes they deserved their fate, and sometimes they didn't -- like most humans on this planet.
Aside from the occasional melodrama, I found this book very interesting and informative and definitely worth reading. I would, however, recommend the BOOK over the audiobook as this particular performance is odd. I don't mind the reader's voice or portrayal, but there are lots of weird... burps, gurgles, and other strange vocal noises that happen a lot within the book. This is unbearably annoying when listening through headphones and it makes me want to turn it off and just buy the actual book.
So: Story is great. Performance is meh.
I love Venice and it's history but even if I wasn't an admirer of the city this book would probably make me one. I love the narrative, at points, it keeps you at the edge of your seat as if it were a fiction novel. The narrator is also very engaging and has an appealing voice. The author did a great job of telling the facts of history but not without sharing the popular and legendary history of the city. I bought a few other history books and this is without a doubt my favorite one yet.
Kind of like taking History of Venice 301 from a egotist prof who thinks everything he has to say is interest and important. Fact is, a good bit is worthy of the time it takes to get though the heavy lifting of rest of the text.
Listened in advance of a trip to Venice. Gave me some new perspectives on a place that I love. But after the first few chapters I had to edit to keep myself interested.
The reader sounds like a professor speaking slowly so the class can keep up and take notes. Happily you can speed him up to keep things moving.
Bottom line. A special interest listen but worth the time if you want to find out the history behind the masks.
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