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The Italian Renaissance Paperback – June 19, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0618127382 ISBN-10: 0618127380 Edition: Revised

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Revised edition (June 19, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618127380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618127382
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This narrative succeeds on two levels: it will genuinely enthrall the ordinary reader, and it will goad specialists into thinking more clearly about their own positions." (Times Literary Supplement) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

JOHN HAROLD PLUMB who was born in 1911, graduated from the University of Leicester and received his Ph.D. from Christ's College in Cambridge. Plumb has written more than thirty books.

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Customer Reviews

The book is easy to read, easy to follow, packed with information, and I highly recommend it.
Michael L. Cook
Plumb knows how to go straight to the point and give the reader his insights clearly and unobtrusively.
unraveler
Italy was a land of cities instead of feudalism, able to make good use of trade to gain great power.
"guiscard"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 75 people found the following review helpful By "guiscard" on November 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
Plumb's book is a very readable introduction to the Renaissance. He begins by explaining how civilization collapsed after the fall of Rome. But the Renaissance grew from the increases in population, trade and the flow of ideas. Italy was a land of cities instead of feudalism, able to make good use of trade to gain great power. The increase of trade brought power to the merchants and guilds instead of the nobility. Trade and power brought money to support an explosion of the arts and finance the flow of ideas, especially from the past.
Plumb describes the histories of some of the cities of Italy. In one chapter he describes the intricate diplomacy of Milan. In other chapters he describes the commerce of Venice and the trade of Florence. We see the brilliance of artists and dissipation of rulers. Plumb describes how the new learning, the new way of seeing the world, spread across Europe.
However, Plumb only wrote half of the book. The second half contains a series of biographies of great artists and rulers of the Renaissance, written by different authors. There are short biographies of artists such as Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci: rulers such as Lorenzo de Medici and Doge Foscari, and authors such as Petrarch and Machiavelli. This book is a tour de force introduction to the magnificent Renaissance.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By unraveler on September 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is informative, intelligent, and so well written that it can have a strong appeal to the reader sheerly as literature. It is also a funny book. All the intrigues, treacheries, betrayals, and cruelties perpetrated by the pillars of the Renaissance society (popes, politicians, eminent soldiers) are described so naturally, vividly, and, sometimes, unexpectedly that I could not help but laugh when reading about them.
Plumb knows how to go straight to the point and give the reader his insights clearly and unobtrusively. He does not preach, he simply states and gives facts so wonderfully that I could not help but admire his masterful style of presentation. Here is an example: "In the darkest decades, there was a froce at work--trade--that was inimical to this world of warriors, priests, and peasants. Trade drew Moslem, Jew, and Christian together; trade fattened towns, sometimes bred them." Notice with what facility Plumb has just outlined the importance of trade--it mitigates cultural barriers and draws people together on the basis of mutual business interests. Or, here is an example of how Renaissance confronted dogmatism and obsession with getting at truth by deductive reasoning: "The old dogmatic certainties did not vanish at once, and the habit of trying to nail truth down by argument from fundamental principles was not lightly cast aside. Some of the most original minds, however, particularly Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci, sought truth not in argument but in observation." The book is full of such gems.
Renaissance was strange, cruel, and full of life and culture. This book gives us Renaissance in all its splendor fitting to a description of the time of revival and vitality.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By "m_peror07" on October 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was surprised how easy it was to read The Italian Renaissance. Some history books are an effort to read, but this one was such a breeze I got myself caught up in it, and finished it in only a day or two. The first half of the book is by Plumb, which goes over the principal cities and themes of the Renaissance. The second half is a mix of biographies of prominent figures of the period by different authors - but there isn't much of a difference between these pieces and Plumb's half in style, both are wonderful to read. This book was so good I've bought a few more in the American Heritage series. If you want a good survey of the Renaissance in Italy, than this is the perfect book for you.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Theophanu on August 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Plumb's work is very readable and paints an overview of the Italian Renaissance with a broad brush. It is, however, 47 years old (published 1961). There's been an enormous amount of scholarship in those 47 years, and Plumb is showing his age, in his adulatory tone and his dismissive insults about the European Middle Ages.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By T. McLaughlin on July 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
I wish there were more books like this one. The first half is discussion by J. H. Plumb about many basic aspects of the Italian Renaissance one should know, the second half is a collection of well-written biographical essays about prominent Italian Renaissance figures. The second half was particularly good. I think Kenneth Clark's essay on Michaelangelo and Morris Bishop's on Petrach were the best, but they were all very good. All are well written, unpretentious and intelligent, and all concern interesting people.

The notable figures of Renaissance Italy are really quite different from notable figures of the American Revolution, say. They were much more passionate. The good better, the evil were more evil. Men loved works of art, they didn't just pretend to. I was reading about Benedict Arnold recently, deplorable traitor! but for diabolical rogues, he's nothing beside Cesare Borgia or Sigismondo Malatesta. And who can compare with Federigo da Montefeltro? Or Leonardo da Vinci? They're inspirational. They make you want to live.

Anyway, this is great book. I'm glad I read it.
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