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The Italian Renaissance Revised Edition
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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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is quite an excellent book. There is and number of intro chapters written by JH Plumb that are very good. Then there are more chapters on different notable people of the time. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Laura O'Shea
Herre is a work that goes back to antiquity explaining formal architecture and culture during the time of Christ, finally translated into the english language. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Robert Rathborne
Really well-written. Just missed meeting Plumb once in the UK, he must have been a great conversationalistPublished 10 months ago by R. MAY
This is an general overview, adroitly penned by the main author and also several other historians. The renaissance was an explosion of knowledge and cultural development that still... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Ferro