Basilica

The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter's
Narrated by: Josephine Bailey
Length: 8 hrs and 13 mins
Categories: History, European
4 out of 5 stars (193 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

It was the splendor and the scandal of the age. In 1506, the ferociously ambitious Renaissance Pope Julius II tore down the most sacred shrine in Europe, the millennium-old St. Peter's Basilica built by the Emperor Constantine over the apostle's grave, to build a better basilica.

Construction of the new St. Peter's spanned two centuries, embroiled 27 popes, and consumed the genius of the greatest artists of the age: Michaelangelo, Bramante, Raphael, and Bernini. The cost of building the new cathedral was costly in more than just monetary terms; the new basilica provoked the Protestant Reformation, dividing the Christian world for all time.

In this swift, colorful narrative, R.A. Scotti brings to life the artists and the popes, the politics and the passions behind this audacious enterprise. Scotti turns sacred architecture into a spellbinding human epic of enormous daring, petty jealousy, and staggering genius.

©2006 R.A. Scotti (P)2006 Tantor Media Inc

Critic Reviews

"A riveting portrtait of the papacy, complete with its triumphs, intrigue, and excesses." (Kirkus)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Spell binding

I was so sorry to have it end. Truly amazing. I ran for my pictures of St. Peter's to check out the details.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Superb!

The history of St. Peter's is so interesting, and this book presents it in a logical, interesting way. Great listening at the gym!

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good story, terrible narrator

What did you like best about Basilica? What did you like least?

Scotti has crafted a simple, engaging narrative of the long and complicated history behind new St. Peter's. As an art historian, I recognize that Scotti's book omits or glosses over various details, but for a popular reader, this is a richly textured story that brings history to life.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The narrator is simply awful. Her mispronunciation of countless words -- mostly Italian, but also English-- is grating and distracting. Given the prominence of Italian names and terms in the story, one would think that the narrator and/or producer could have done the most basic of research to avoid this unnecessary and embarrassing pattern of error. Among many other errors, "Medici" and "fabbrica" appeared nearly every minute.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Trifecta

I don't know what's better – the writing,the narration or the subject itself! It's entertaining and enlightening. I listen to it over and over.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting AND Entertaining… A Rare Mix!

This book is a pleasant mix of information and entertainment. It’s an honest-to-goodness story, not just a compilation of facts.

Non-fiction books tend to be dry sometimes and tedious to get through if they are too long (and you've heard me complain before about not liking books that are little more than a litany of names and dates!). This book was just right. Not too long, not too dry, not monotonous …

Having actually visited St Peter’s also added to my appreciation of the book because I could so easily visualize the construction and I enjoyed the memories of climbing up into the dome, negotiating the tight spaces and narrow stairs…. AHHH So beautiful! I can’t wait to see it again!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing

This book was much more engaging than I’d expected. The drama and characters involved in building St. Peter’s are brought to life and the architectural and engineering details are fascinating. I’m not an architect or an engineer, but I was spellbound.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great background to the history of St. Peters

I agree with the other reviewers, a great story with wonderful insight. Well researched. The reader's poor pronunciation of so many words was such a distraction. She had a very pleasant voice but no concept how to pronounce so many Italian names, not to mention several English words too.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: St. Peter'

An excellent story which is incredibly interesting; however, it's a shame that the narrator butchers the Italian vocabulary. You would think that with all the Italian words in this book, one would have tried to find a narrator who can pronounce basic Italian. It's actually painful and extremely disruptive to hear names and places so badly pronounced.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fabulous.

This book could be used as the basis for an entire education. Unlike a lot of books, it is worth reading again.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating and Cinematic

This book is full of vivid detail about the Popes and artists who created St. Peter's Basilica. The personalities of Michelangelo and Julius II loom large in their clashes. The mismanagement of funds leading to the sack of Rome in 1527 is particularly devastating, and ripping stuff! I would love to see the book made into a miniseries. Josephine Bailey's lilting English accents brings it all to life. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Art History or in Rome.