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Rome: A History in Seven Sackings
Contributor(s): Kneale, Matthew (Author)

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ISBN: 150119111X     ISBN-13: 9781501191114
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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Binding Type: Paperback - See All Available Formats & Editions
Published: May 2019
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Annotation: “This magnificent love letter to Rome” (Stephen Greenblatt) tells the story of the Eternal City through pivotal moments that defined its history—from the early Roman Republic through the Renaissance and the Reformation to the German occupation in World War Two—“an erudite history that reads like a page-turner” (Maria Semple).

Rome, the Eternal City. It is a hugely popular tourist destination with a rich history, famed for such sites as the Colosseum, the Forum, the Pantheon, St. Peter’s, and the Vatican. In no other city is history as present as it is in Rome. Today visitors can stand on bridges that Julius Caesar and Cicero crossed; walk around temples in the footsteps of emperors; visit churches from the earliest days of Christianity.

This is all the more remarkable considering what the city has endured over the centuries. It has been ravaged by fires, floods, earthquakes, and—most of all—by roving armies. These have invaded repeatedly, from ancient times to as recently as 1943. Many times Romans have shrugged off catastrophe and remade their city anew.

“Matthew Kneale [is] one step ahead of most other Roman chroniclers” (The New York Times Book Review). He paints portraits of the city before seven pivotal assaults, describing what it looked like, felt like, smelled like and how Romans, both rich and poor, lived their everyday lives. He shows how the attacks transformed Rome—sometimes for the better. With drama and humor he brings to life the city of Augustus, of Michelangelo and Bernini, of Garibaldi and Mussolini, and of popes both saintly and very worldly. Rome is “exciting…gripping…a slow roller-coaster ride through the fortunes of a place deeply entangled in its past” (The Wall Street Journal).
Additional Information
BISAC Categories:
- History | Europe - Italy
Dewey: 945.632
Physical Information: 1.2" H x 6" W x 8.9" (1.05 lbs) 432 pages
 
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Contributor Bio(s): Kneale, Matthew: - Matthew Kneale was born in London in 1960, the son and grandson of writers. He studied modern history at Magdalen College, Oxford. He has written five novels, including English Passengers, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award, and two nonfiction books. For the last fifteen years he has lived in Rome with his wife and two children. Visit him at MatthewKneale.net.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2018 March #3)

Kneale (Passengers) stumbles in his attempt to plumb the mystique of the Eternal City in this panoramic and deeply researched account of Roman history, told through the city's seven sackings at the hands of Gauls, Goths, Nazis, and other barbarian hordes. Early in the process of writing, Kneale reveals, he envisioned each chapter as "a kind of vast postcard from Rome describing what it looked like, felt like, and smelt like" at a given moment in time. Unfortunately, this authorial intent has not translated well: rather than an evocative travelogue or history, the book is more a series of disconnected episodes of political intrigue and bloodshed. Kneale's love for the city in all its incarnations, past and present, is clear, but his habit of beginning each chapter with a present-day anecdote about a deserted castle or sleepy Calabrian town that is then revealed as the site of a major historical event quickly becomes repetitive. Later material on the rise of Italian nationalism in the mid-19th century and the occupation of Rome by the Nazis is persuasively presented, with a sense of narrative urgency that earlier sections lack. Yet the crucial element missing throughout is a sense of the sheer presence of the city, whether as an imperial capital, ransacked ruin, or sacred site. Despite Kneale's best efforts, Rome still holds its secrets close. Agent: George Lucas, InkWell Management. (May)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.
 
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