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Rome [Abridged] [Audible Audio Edition]

by Robert Hughes (Author), David Timson (Narrator)
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

Rome - as a city, as an empire, as an enduring idea - is in many ways the origin of everything Robert Hughes has spent his life writing about with such dazzling irreverence and exacting rigour. In this magisterial book he traces the city's history from its mythic foundation with Romulus and Remus to Fascism, Fellini and beyond. For almost a thousand years, Rome held sway as the spiritual and artistic centre of the world.

Hughes vividly recreates the ancient Rome of Julius Caesar, Marcus Aurelius, Nero, Caligula, Cicero, Martial and Virgil. With the artistic blossoming of the Renaissance, he casts his unwavering critical eye over the great works of Raphael, Michelangelo and Brunelleschi, shedding new light on the Old Masters.

In the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when Rome's cultural predominance was assured, artists and tourists from all over Europe converged on the city. Hughes brilliantly analyses the defining works of Caravaggio, Velasquez, Rubens and Bernini.

Hughes' Rome is a vibrant, contradictory, spectacular and secretive place; a monument both to human glory and human error.

©2011 Robert Hughes; (P)2011 Orion Publishing Group Ltd

Product Details

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hours and 36 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Abridged
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Group Limited
  • Release Date: December 20, 2011
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006P76RCM
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
113 of 120 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Big brush; lots of streaks December 9, 2011
Robert Hughes' Rome is a big book, a rich book, and, sadly, a careless book. It is worth reading, if you can ignore the repetitions and the occasional outright mistake (ranging from the order of some of the Caesars to the plot of Shakespeare's King Lear). Hughes tells us that the project was pushed on him by his agent--shame on her. Hughes seems simply not to know enough to write a book about Rome from 800 BCE to today. Who would? His past work has usually been totally informed and incisive; long sections of the new Rome book are little more than medium length reviews of familiar material, punctuated, too rarely, with the brilliant, stimulating opinions and opinionatedness of the author. I suspect we are also seeing here signs of what everyone says will be more and more common (and something Amazon itself is trying to bring to pass): inadequate, or no, editing. After putting together this huge 500 page book, a no-longer-young Hughes was entitled to a first rate editor, who could easily have rescued him from the minor but constant and annoying repetitions that fill the book. Hughes deserved this careful editing; his readers deserved it too. So buy the book, read it, enjoy it (you will), but shame on lots of folks involved for bringing us a bold effort plagued with minor distractions and a few whopper outright mistakes--enough to make a careful reader mistrust what he or she is reading. A fine, opinionated author like Hughes can't afford such sloppiness.
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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The drama of the technological sublime July 7, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Hughes got a bit of a whacking from Mary 'they had it coming' Beard in the Guardian for this recently, who threw a scholarly hissy fit on the grounds that the first three chapters were full of historical whoppers. I think Beard, whose verdict was, essentially, 'pulp it', which she then backtracked into reluctant, somewhat watery praise, glossed with 'skip the first chapters', overstates the case wildly. I found a fair number of mistakes in the beginning, but they are all pretty minor, and are easily explained by poor copy editing (maybe I missed something, I'm certainly not going to go into the ring against Mary Beard), but are really neither here nor there. It is certainly true that the beginning is sort of the higher schoolboy history, and it doesn't look to take account of recent scholarship ('yeah, including my work on Roman Triumphs', I can hear Beard snarling from the back of the room) but that sort of detail isn't really important, and, if you were to take her advice, you'd miss some great stuff. What Hughes is extremely good at is both visceral reactions to serious art, and the supporting technological nitty gritty. He really gets carried away not just about art, but about civil engineering in its service. For instance he has a great discussion of the details, not just of how to design and build an aquaduct, but also the ongoing maintenence issues after the thing is up and running, and the like. He stops too for an extended explanation of why the Pantheon has good claim to being the greatest achievement in structural engineering ever, anywhere. And later there is a loving description of how, under the popes, the various obelisks where brought up vertical again, or even relocated while standing (a non-trivial problem). Read more ›
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72 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Immersion in the Eternal City November 5, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Hughes' Roman biography moves chronologically from the foundation of the city through events of the fascist era. While his previous book about Barcelona is social history, Rome combines cultural, visual and personal history with straightforward political and military narrative.

The focus of Hughes analysis depends on the historical period under consideration. In his chapter on the founding of the city, Hughes confines himself largely to political developments including the first and second Punic wars, the rise and fall of Julius Caeser and the ascent of Octavius. Similarly, his history of the nineteenth century includes tales of Mazzini, Garibaldi, Cavour, Pope Pius IX, the Syllabus of Errors and ultramontanism. Along the way, Hughes pauses occasionally to provide the reader with aesthetic insights. He criticizes the Vittoriano monument, for example, on both aesthetic and historical grounds: "Neither in design nor in material does the typewriter look Roman, and, in point of fact, it is not."

In his chapter on the Renaissance, however, Hughes focuses almost exclusively on art and architectural history including discussion of Brunelleschi, Bramante, Raphael and Michelangelo. His work is especially illuminating in sections such as the one covering the Grand Tour and Neoclassicism. Here, Hughes brings to bear his formidable understanding of cultural history to reveal less widely known facts about Roman history. We meet leading English purveyors of inauthentic Italian antiquities Thomas Jenkins and James Byres, first choice for foreigners wanting Roman portraits Pompeo Batoni, master of more than 1,000 engravings of Roman architecture Giovanni Battista Piranesi and inventor of archeological categories Johann Jonachim Winkelmann.
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
This book represents itself as a readable, narrative history of Rome, covering the period beginning over two thousand years ago and continuing to the present day. It is written by Robert Hughes, an accomplished and highly respected writer, and there are plenty of positive reviews in the U.S. press (many of them helpfully provided by Amazon on the product page for this book) that attest to the quality of the writing ("captivating", "engrossing", "passionately written", and so forth).

Unfortunately, other critical reviewers - who are knowledgeable about the history of Rome and of the many historical incidents and backgrounds that are given in the book - have pointed out that it is full of errors. In fact, it is simply inexcusable that they were not corrected, if not before initial publication, then surely before the book was released in the U.S.

You see, this book was released in the U.K. and Australia 6 months prior to its U.S. release, and immediately knowledgeable reviewers proceeded to point out the many errors contained in the writing. Those could have been corrected before the book was released in the U.S., but they were not. They could have delayed its release in the U.S. in order to fix these problems, but they did not.

For example:

- in The Guardian, 6/29/11, reviewer Mary Beard (herself a Cambridge scholar and author), states that "The first half of the book, especially the three chapters dealing with the early history of Rome, from Romulus to the end of pagan antiquity, is little short of a disgrace - to both author and publisher. It is riddled with errors and misunderstandings that will mislead the innocent and infuriate the specialist.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A shame it is the last book he published
Very readable and an extraordinary amount of information seamlessly integrated into the narrative of the history.Fantastic!! I am so sorry there will be no more books by Mr. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ruth Pettus
2.0 out of 5 stars Hughes simply misses Rome's magnificent significance
Well, the set up of this book certainly looked promising!

Unfortunately, Hughes' anti-Catholic leanings (even though he himself may have identified himself as a Catholic... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Joseph P. Tevington
4.0 out of 5 stars In Depth History of Rome's Art Culture
Written by an art critic, this book is for those interested in art and the artists pertaining to Italy, and Rome specifically. Read more
Published 2 months ago by G. Dwyer
4.0 out of 5 stars Adventure of Rome
Rome captured me because I had been readingThe Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (Liberation Trilogy) I wanted to review the history of Rome and glimpse the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by madlyn fafard
1.0 out of 5 stars To Be Avoided!
This work is a major disappointment, both in terms of contents and of organization.

First, it must be underscored that the author is an art critic, not a historian. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Pierre Gauthier
3.0 out of 5 stars An art-enthusiast's treasure
I had been looking for a history of Rome that would clarify the transition from the Roman Empire to the "Holy Roman Empire," the Catholic Church. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Joan M. Maredyth
5.0 out of 5 stars Hughes; we've lost a true genius.
Robert Hughes genius brings forth the whole history of Rome which serves as a parallel for Western Culture, overall. The book is excellent.
Published 8 months ago by Dianne Cable
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
A fantastic read from a man who knows art and culture. I wanted to travel to Rome to see all the incredible buildings and pieces of art he spoke about. Read more
Published 10 months ago by gbenest
3.0 out of 5 stars Out and about in Rome town
An immensely enjoyable read overall. The author seems to know the Roman terrain like the back of his hand, especially when discussing its art and architectural history. Read more
Published 10 months ago by T. Kepler
4.0 out of 5 stars Wordy but worth while
This is not a quick read. But it is witty and intelligent. I am enjoying how the Hughs tells the story of Rome by integrating its past and present, almost as if he were writing... Read more
Published 11 months ago by bpb1800
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