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Barcelona The Great Enchantress (Directions) Paperback – September 18, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Directions
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; Reprint edition (September 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426201311
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426201318
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this pared-down version of his acclaimed Barcelona (1992), art critic Hughes traces Barcelona’s progress from a burgeoning port city to the booming Catalan capital that roughly 1.5 million people call home today. Hughes’s portrait chronologically flutters from one century to another, shedding light on the city’s cryptic history in a way very few non-Catalans can. Hughes treats the city as if it’s his own, and his critiques are justified and insightful, drawing on personal anecdotes, excerpts of Catalan manuscripts and anti-Castilian decrees. It’s not the details of cataclysmic events like the plague of 1348 or the bitter suffocation forced upon Cataluña by Franco that make Hughes’s book worthwhile, but rather the accounts of small events that transformed "one enormous ashtray, covered in a mantle of grime and grit" into what is now an affable, colorful, modern hub. The author poetically weaves politics, food, architecture, sport, myths and music into a striking depiction of the great Catalan seaport. 8 b&w photos, 1 map.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Time magazine art critic Hughes writes a passionate love song to his chosen place; this book provides an eloquent introduction to Catalan culture and cuisine while whetting the traveler's appetite for the glories of a great world city." —Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

"By turns funny, cutting and magisterial." —San Francisco Chronicle

More About the Author

Robert Hughes was born in Australia in 1938 and has lived in Europe and the United States since 1964. Since 1970 he has worked in New York as an art critic for Time Magazine. He has twice received the Franklin Jeweer Mather Award for Distinguished Criticism from the College Art Association of America.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Stephen McHenry on July 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Essentially condensing, rewriting and updating his earlier work the 574 page Barcelona, this new 168 page version uses the examination of Catalan architecture to tell how the strong independent nature of it's citizens has created one of the most architecturally interesting cities in the world. The book begins with the Australian author's third and most recent wedding in the 700 year old town hall by the mayor of the city he has loved for 30 some years. A thorough knowledge of the history, culture, art, and politics of Barcelona presented with wit, keen observation, and an open fondness. Excellent book to read before going or if you have been, or for armchair travelers. Read this before the larger book, which you could read after this to obtain much more detail on the all aspects.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By John B. Dougherty on September 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I read this delightful book on a plane to Barcelona. It whet my appetite for the cultural repast to come. Hughes gives a foretaste of the rich melange of language, history, art, and architecture that makes Barcelona and Catalonia so compelling. Though Hughes clearly loves this city, the writing is fresh and he mixes in sharp opinions so the book never cloys. Delectable.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Scott H. Shapiro on September 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Hughes makes the buildings, history and pride of the Catalan people come alive. His use of Architecture tells a quick story of a strong and independant people, with Barcelona at it's center. His love of the city and people is evident in his story of his most recent wedding in Barcelona. The great thing about the book is that you want more, I'm happy he has a larger volume that covers the city and its eccletic history.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M Quigg VINE VOICE on May 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A brief sample history of Barcelona and its effect on art, architecture, and the people. Hughes fell in love with this city and became a frequent visitor to the second largest city in Spain. Barcelona is indeed a famous city and one of the holdouts to the Franco regime in the Spanish CIvil War. Perhaps Hughes through his wording tried to convey his love of the city in his writings. However this book came across as a sketchy summary history of this great city.

This is an OK read on this great city. If you want more history, check out Hughes earlier book on this city.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sam Glover on June 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I brought this book along with me on my honeymoon to Paris and Barcelona and started reading it on our overnight train to Barcelona. I finished it in about four hours of reading, closing it just before getting in a cab to our Barcelona hotel.

Barcelona: The Great Enchantress is a page turner, especially if you are planning a trip there. In fact, if you are planning a trip there, this book is mandatory reading. It will pump you up for your visit like no tour guide can do. It doesn't contain a lot of in-depth advice for tourists or a careful history of Barcelona's rich architectural history (Hughes has another book for that, although I have not read it). What it does is whet your appetite.

Read this book and get excited about one of the most amazing cities in Europe! This is travel writing at its best and most engaging.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Diego Banducci on June 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Which is not a bad thing, since the original 574-page version, written in 1992 just after the Barcelona Olympics, is too verbose. This version appears to have benefited from aggressive editing, deleting much of the generally irrelevant material on Barcelona's history and Catalan literature and art, which may generously be described as undistinguished.

Hughes' real strength lies in architectural criticism, and here he shines. Readers who share that interest may well want to buy the 1992 version which discusses that topic in depth.

Neither book, unfortunately, has a sufficient number of pictures.

There is an excellent VHS tape of Barcelona [ASIN: 6303209777] that combines both ground and aerial footage. Well worth purchasing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Autumn Sun on September 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book will give you a sense of the Catalan spirit and personality. The author's professional interest in art focuses the book more heavily in that direction, but it is not overladen with details. It will give you a sense of the atmospherics of Barcelona and some insight into who the Catalans are. Robert Hughes doesn't just travel to Barcelona; for at least 30 years it has been his second home and he has important friendships there. He has effectively adopted the city, and this book tells us why. I enjoyed the book; I learned more about Catalunya and the spirit of its people without being overburdened by too much historical detail. The author has a dry sense of humor that some might interpret as veering into arrogance; at this point he is a semi-cantankerous old man. But his joy in revealing his love for his adopted city is apparent.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lydia Nibley on April 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
This small volume overflows with passion for Barcelona's art and architecture, subjects Hughes generously expands to include cultural history, food, and politics, as well as sketches of his personal engagement with Barcelona's people and the creative life-force of the city. Hughes writes, "You are lucky if not too late in life, you discover a second city other than your place of birth which becomes a true home town."
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