Florence: The Biography of a City Kindle Edition
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This book too is a breezy, readable, and concise account of the rise of Florence from its obscure Roman days through the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Much of the Renaissance material is necessarily a rehash of the Medici book, but with a wider scope and a guidebook's attention to individual buildings, treated in great detail in the very useful appendix.
What inspired my only 3-star rating for this otherwise excellent book is the author's descent into shameless gossip-mongering and nationalistic myopia in the post-Medici section of the book. I've long wanted to know what happened to Florence after its Golden Age, but this book choses to focus far too much on individuals in its treatment of 18th - 20th C. Florence, and far too little on long-range trends, historical overview, and thoughtful analysis.
If Hibbert is to be taken seriously, Florence after the Medicis was notable mostly for being a playground for the English idle rich, whose colorful scandals, dinner parties, and bon mots give him no end of pleasure in describing. I really threw up my hands when even his account of the grim years of facism and the Second World War feature prominent descriptions of British hostesses and husbands; I really wonder what an native Florentine might make of this perspective on Italian history seen as mere background for the adventures of globe-trotting Brits (with a few Yanks thrown in for good measure).
This is popular history as an excuse for name-dropping, a good bet for attracting a mass audience, but hardly a serious attempt at, as the subtitle promises, "A Biography of a City."