Death in Florence

The Medici, Savonarola, and the Battle for the Soul of the Renaissance City
Narrated by: Derek Perkins
Length: 14 hrs and 28 mins
Categories: History, Europe
4.5 out of 5 stars (192 ratings)

Audible Plus

$7.95 a month

Try our newest plan – unlimited listening to select audiobooks, Audible Originals, and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
$7.95 a month after 30 day trial. Upgrade or cancel anytime.
Buy for $29.95

Buy for $29.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

Death in Florence illuminates one of the defining moments in Western history - the bloody and dramatic story of the battle for the soul of Renaissance Florence.

By the end of the fifteenth century, Florence was well established as the home of the Renaissance. As generous patrons to the likes of Botticelli and Michelangelo, the ruling Medici embodied the progressive humanist spirit of the age, and in Lorenzo de' Medici (Lorenzo the Magnificent) they possessed a diplomat capable of guarding the militarily weak city in a climate of constantly shifting allegiances between the major Italian powers.

However, in the form of Savonarola, an unprepossessing provincial monk, Lorenzo found his nemesis. Filled with Old Testament fury and prophecies of doom, Savonarola's sermons reverberated among a disenfranchised population, who preferred medieval biblical certainties to the philosophical interrogations and intoxicating surface glitter of the Renaissance. Savonarola's aim was to establish a "City of God" for his followers, a new kind of democratic state, the likes of which the world had never seen before. The battle between these two men would be a fight to the death, a series of sensational events - invasions, trials by fire, the "Bonfire of the Vanities," terrible executions, and mysterious deaths - featuring a cast of the most important and charismatic Renaissance figures.

Was this a simple clash of wills between a benign ruler and religious fanatic? Between secular pluralism and repressive extremism? In an exhilaratingly rich and deeply researched story, Paul Strathern reveals the paradoxes, self-doubts, and political compromises that made the battle for the soul of the Renaissance city one of the most complex and important moments in Western history.

©2015 Paul Strathern (P)2015 Blackstone Audio

What listeners say about Death in Florence

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    114
  • 4 Stars
    57
  • 3 Stars
    20
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    120
  • 4 Stars
    38
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    100
  • 4 Stars
    49
  • 3 Stars
    18
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Extravagant rich peacocks and true believers

At last I reasonably "get" what the Renaissance city-states and their key players were about. The whole tapestry finally makes sense. The narrative here swings effortlessly from personality nuances to (literally) Machiavellian calculations to colorful (from lovely to bloody and murky) scenes to the arts to religious thought. And the crossovers and collisions are beautifully detailed. This does not go deep into the mechanics of the Medici banking, but for that it does cite and lightly quote my favorite source: Raymond de Roover's writings. The narration is English-accented which for me seems to call to life the grace of the flowering Florentine Renaissance, maybe because of my introduction to all this via Sir Kenneth Clark's art history in the 1970s.
A favorite moment: the Tuscans, accustomed to mainly show-battles in which relatively few fatalities happened, and losers were allowed to gracefully withdraw for another show-battle another day, suddenly run into a new arrival: an invading army of brutal, methodical, trained killers from France. Or again, the absolute weirdness of the crowd in Florence in a "high noon" moment waiting in the town square with bated breath (and doubtless much more chaotic behaviors) for the monk, Savonarola, to produce a dramatic public miracle. Sometimes the hinge of history turns in just such a moment. There are many such here.

11 people found this helpful

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

Amazing continuation to The Medici

I bought The Medici and enjoyed it and the narration so much that I decided to get this book as well. At first I was worried that it would be repetitive, but it wasn't at all! This book covers a much shorter time period, compared to The Medici book. The author focuses on Savanorola and the original Medici's and their impact on Florence, where The Medici follows the family lineage until the end. This book goes into more detail on subjects that we were glossed over in The Medici, probably to keep it concise. It's a great follow-up to that book; although I'm sure you could read them in reverse order and enjoy it just the same. Derek Perkins is an amazing narrator and Paul Strathern has a gift for keep the listener engaged and interested throughout the whole story line. I highly recommend this audio book.

3 people found this helpful

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

concise and informative

What made the experience of listening to Death in Florence the most enjoyable?

Taking the specific subject of Florence between The Medici & Savonarola, Strathern writes a compelling tale of politics, religion and thought in the high renaissance.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • VS
  • 06-01-16

Fascinating

Well researched and written account of the rise and fall of Savonarola. Strathern captures the dramatic arc of events with incisive portraits of the major and minor players. Perkins' narration is smooth and well paced, with excellent pronunciation of Latin and Italian. Highly recommended for anyone interested in Renaissance and church history.

2 people found this helpful

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

Fascinating, Entertaining and Educational

Just like with The Medici, Paul Strathern does a wonderful job of using evidence to write a true story that's more fascinating than fiction, and Derek Perkins does a great job of reading it.

1 person found this helpful

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

Very fascinating

Savonarola is one of the most famous church martyrs. And this book delves into his dealings with the Medici, Alexander VI, and the rest of the Renaissance Italy. He was a thorn in the side of many in Renaissance Italy. He preached a gospel that offended, and came to blows with the Pope. But that was just one governmental head he upset. His subsequent life and death are covered here as objectively as can be expected for a secular historical account. Bravo to Paul Strathern for his relatively unbiased covering of this most fascinating historical work. Derek Perkins does a spectacular job as always. He's one in a handful of consistently excellent narrators of history. You can always depend on an outstanding narration.

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

Great read on history of 15th century Florence

Have been reading books on Florence before our trip this summer and this one was fantastic. Delved deeper into the Medici life during this time period that the other book by Strathmore on the Medici. Really enjoyed the book and feel well prepared for our upcoming trip!

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

The end of the Middle Ages

This book does a nice job and allowing us to see how the Medici family came to and maintained its power in Florence at the end of the 15th century. It also examines the power and influence of the preacher/profit/theologian Savonarola. The author provides adequate detail and mentions alternative views than his own within the narrative. It is adequate and informative, but the storytelling was in my estimation, less than riveting. It maybe that Lorenzo and Savonarola just weren't that compelling if you weren't living under the actual power of their personalities.

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

Excellent history

This is a very well-written story that is balanced and easy to comprehend even though there are many characters. My only concern is that the author and several of his sources seem to dismiss the very real fact that God does intervene in the affairs of men. This bias does not materially detract from the excellent presentation so I highly recommend this book.

1 person found this helpful