*Starred Review* Founded by bedraggled refugees fleeing the same barbarian invasions that brought the glorious Roman Empire to a close, Venice is a city most of us know for its art and architecture but of whose long, unique history few of us are aware. From its humble beginnings, Venice rose to a position of a naval and economic power as well as a great cultural and intellectual innovator. The Venetian republic, a model for our own, established extensive trading networks, became a maritime juggernaut, and endured the ravages of plague only to see its power gradually eclipsed by the Ottoman Turks and meet its ultimate demise at the hands of a French army. Stepping outside of his usual focus on the Crusades (The New Concise History of the Crusades, 2005), Madden paints a vivid portrait of “a city without land, an empire without borders.” His engaging work enters a sparse historiography that includes John Julius Norwich’s enduring A History of Venice(1982) and Roger Crowley’s City of Fortune (2012) and separates itself by offering a readable overview backed by solid research. Readers will come away from Madden’s Venice with newfound respect for one of the great jewels of Western civilization. --Brian Odom
"Breezy, cheerful, evenhanded, Madden debunks myths about Venetian decadence, and brushes aside ugly whispers about greedy, unscrupulous merchants. When a colorful character pops up (Marco Polo, Casanova), he makes the most of it in his brisk, no-nonsense prose." -- New York Times
"This is a savory, tantalizing, but not-so-serene history of La Serenissima -- a tale of invasion, plunder, and ultimate elevation to one of the leading merchant cities in Europe. ...Madden makes use of thousands of Venetians' personal documents from the Middle Ages to present an authoritative history."
-- Publishers Weekly
"Madden paints a vivid portrait of 'a city without land, an empire without borders.' His engaging work enters a sparse historiography... and separates itself by offering a readable overview backed by solid research. Readers will come away from Madden's Venice with a newfound respect for one of the great jewels of Western civilization.
-- Booklist (Starred Review)
"Plenty of books focus on Venice the romantic ruin. This one offers a welcome reminder of its historic role over a millennium in the development of a modern economic system and the maintenance of the global balance of power."
-- Kirkus Reviews
"Madden presents a popular history as engaging as it is solid. In graceful, sometimes elegant prose, he details the long life of one of Europe's most intriguing cities... It is as enjoyable as it is astute."
-- Library Journal
"As Thomas F. Madden relates in his excellent new book, the city was once far more than just a romantic tourist destination. ... Madden's book is a lively and lucid survey of Venice's colorful history."
-- The Seattle Times
“Madden proves the perfect guide to the magical city of Venice. His history is not only authoritative and encyclopedic, encompassing everything from the plundering of Attila the Hun to Katharine Hepburn’s tribulations while filming Summertime, it is also unfailingly readable and amusing—a must-read for Europhiles, armchair travelers, and history buffs.” —Ross King, author of Brunelleschi’s Dome and Leonardo and the Last Supper
“Thomas Madden’s portrait of Venice glows like one of the city’s own rich and colorful artworks—a tapestry woven from a thousand tales, with unforgettable characters, daring exploits, and inspiring triumphs against overwhelming odds.” —John R. Hale, author of Lords of the Sea
“Madden is that rare talent—a serious scholar who tells a gripping story. He breathes life into Venetian history in all its subtle complexity, rescuing the Venetians from the common stereotype of one-dimensional merchants. This book is a fantastic read.” —Lars Brownworth, author of Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire that Rescued Western Civilization