A New History

Book - 2012
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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 discoveries from new and recent research, Madden has woven 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.

Filled with doges and popes, knights and merchants, and famous figures from Charlemagne to Marco Polo, Casanova, and Lord Byron. Madden's Venice is the rich popular history this city deserves.

Publisher: New York : Viking, 2012.
ISBN: 9780670025428
Characteristics: xi, 446 p. : ill. (chiefly col.), maps ; 24 cm.


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Aug 22, 2017

A fascinating read.

Jul 16, 2016

Venice is a fascinating city and it is equally fascinating to read about the necessity, development and evolution of this remarkable place. This is a far cry from a dry account of historical people and meaningless dates, rather is it written more like a story, with a context surrounding important events. I've never been a history buff but, apparently, with the right well-written book, I was hooked.

Jul 18, 2014

This is a remarkable book, spanning Venice's fascinating history, from its start as a lagoon refuge to present day, as a top tourist destination. Well-written and full of captivating stories, this is a great read.

Aug 17, 2013

For the most part, this new history is a political and military chronology -- albeit an entertaining and informative one, thanks to the author's lucid style. The way he weaves the story of Venice into the fabric of European history is masterful. But it takes nearly 300 pages before there is any discussion of Venetian art, architecture or commerce. We meet all the doges, generals and bishops, but there are few glimpses of what life in Venice was like.

Aug 05, 2013

Written almost as narrative rather than history, Madden's popular history of Venice often almost feels more like a novel. In many ways, that can make this an an enjoyable, easy to read book. But there are real problems. One, Madden's bias towards Venice - and Venice as he interpretes its history - is very marked, which can weaken the book's value as an overview of the Republic of Venice. Two, part of Madden's bias is a political one, and more than once he puts in ideological asides that really add no clarity and for which he presents no evidence. Three, being a popular history, there are no footnotes, so if you see claims made that run counter to other accounts of the same events you've read elsewhere, it's not obvious how to weigh them against each other.

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