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Florence: The Biography of a City

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This book is as captivating as the city itself. Hibbert's gift is weaving political, social and art history into an elegantly readable and marvellously lively whole. The author's book on Florence will also be at once a history and a guide book and will be enhanced by splendid photographs and illustrations and line drawings which will describe all teh buildings and treasure This book is as captivating as the city itself. Hibbert's gift is weaving political, social and art history into an elegantly readable and marvellously lively whole. The author's book on Florence will also be at once a history and a guide book and will be enhanced by splendid photographs and illustrations and line drawings which will describe all teh buildings and treasures of the city.


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This book is as captivating as the city itself. Hibbert's gift is weaving political, social and art history into an elegantly readable and marvellously lively whole. The author's book on Florence will also be at once a history and a guide book and will be enhanced by splendid photographs and illustrations and line drawings which will describe all teh buildings and treasure This book is as captivating as the city itself. Hibbert's gift is weaving political, social and art history into an elegantly readable and marvellously lively whole. The author's book on Florence will also be at once a history and a guide book and will be enhanced by splendid photographs and illustrations and line drawings which will describe all teh buildings and treasures of the city.

30 review for Florence: The Biography of a City

  1. 5 out of 5

    Subodh

    My wife and I visited Florence for the first, and so far the only, time in 1991. We had only two days, and one of them was a Monday, so the museums were closed. But we went around the city and its gardens and soaked in the atmosphere. Reading this book made me aware that we are in distinguished company. There is a chapter in the book on famous persons who spent extended time in Florence, and many of them avoided the museums altogether in favour of a feel for the life of the city. For a small cit My wife and I visited Florence for the first, and so far the only, time in 1991. We had only two days, and one of them was a Monday, so the museums were closed. But we went around the city and its gardens and soaked in the atmosphere. Reading this book made me aware that we are in distinguished company. There is a chapter in the book on famous persons who spent extended time in Florence, and many of them avoided the museums altogether in favour of a feel for the life of the city. For a small city, it rivals the likes of Rome, Paris and London in the richness of hits history and art. I would very much like to visit Florence again, this time at least for a week. This book is going to be my guide and companion on this visit - as and when it happens. It is amazing how many outstanding personalities of the Renaissance were from this city, or had a strong link to it. I would like to spend at least half my time on the next visit admiring the art in museums and churches. The question as to how a small city, which was not even on the coast, managed to play such an important role in history will remain unanswered, like all such question. History just happens. Trying to find causes in it is a good intellectual exercise, but like questions of philosophy it does not lead to any definite answers. Christopher Hibbert is highly readable, and I now look forward to his books on Venice and Rome.

  2. 4 out of 5

    astried

    Florence, if you think it was a peaceful Renaissance city just happily churning art one after another, then think again. The book concentrate most on 1200-1800s and the amount of power fighting, blood and murder can make your head turned. Then suddenly it's Risorgimento and Hibbert lost interest on the Italian. After this it's mostly report on, of and from foreigner living or passing by Florence. What happened? I found it so odd, isn't there anything worth reporting about the locals. Or was it t Florence, if you think it was a peaceful Renaissance city just happily churning art one after another, then think again. The book concentrate most on 1200-1800s and the amount of power fighting, blood and murder can make your head turned. Then suddenly it's Risorgimento and Hibbert lost interest on the Italian. After this it's mostly report on, of and from foreigner living or passing by Florence. What happened? I found it so odd, isn't there anything worth reporting about the locals. Or was it that they really were drowned by the foreigner? Where were the voices of people who were stubborn enough to govern themselves for hundreds of years? Have they changed so much? 3.5 stars

  3. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    A fascinating book that makes Florentine history come alive. Too detailed for the casual traveler; irresistible for the wannabe-Florentine.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Castles

    An amazing achievement. I can’t imagine the time and energy dedicated to this vast project of describing the history of Florence from ancient times until the modern. From the Romans, the medieval, through the renaissance and Medici and up until World War Two and the flood of 66’. Yes, there’s a lot of anecdotes and name dropping, but that what makes this book possible. How else can you describe thousands of years of history without boring your reader? It must be said though that this book is for An amazing achievement. I can’t imagine the time and energy dedicated to this vast project of describing the history of Florence from ancient times until the modern. From the Romans, the medieval, through the renaissance and Medici and up until World War Two and the flood of 66’. Yes, there’s a lot of anecdotes and name dropping, but that what makes this book possible. How else can you describe thousands of years of history without boring your reader? It must be said though that this book is for the Florence fanatics, and it’s hard not to fall in love with this City. For me, interested mainly in the renaissance and the Medici era, it’s was refreshing to read exactly what happened next, in the 17th and 18th centuries. Not many books about Renaissance art and the Medici tell you what came after, and this book completed a more context of history and times and progression for me. Ok very grateful for that. Even though I visited Florence just about a week ago, I must admit that I briefed and skipped through the last appendix chapter about the sightseeings, but even that, you realize how much this chapter alone gives you an idea of how much this city is so rich in art and culture and history.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Absolutely bloomin' marvellous. An enjoyable and informative read, and the type of book that few can write. Christopher Hibbert and his city biographies are missed. Absolutely bloomin' marvellous. An enjoyable and informative read, and the type of book that few can write. Christopher Hibbert and his city biographies are missed.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I wish I'd read it before I went to Florence, rather than after. I wish I'd read it before I went to Florence, rather than after.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

    I bought this book during my last few days of my junior year abroad in Italy. It was my idea of a nice souvenir, a coffee table book to help me remember the months I spent living in Florence. This book absolutely contributed to the overweight baggage fees I forked over on my return to the United States. Well, it's been four years since I landed at the airport in Florence, Italy, and I finally, finally cracked open this book to formally read it through. It took me four years to start reading this, I bought this book during my last few days of my junior year abroad in Italy. It was my idea of a nice souvenir, a coffee table book to help me remember the months I spent living in Florence. This book absolutely contributed to the overweight baggage fees I forked over on my return to the United States. Well, it's been four years since I landed at the airport in Florence, Italy, and I finally, finally cracked open this book to formally read it through. It took me four years to start reading this, five months to finish, and I don't expect I'll ever get around to reading it ever again. Harsh, I know, but - this book was so boring! I never say that about books, but this was mind-numbing! It was just name after name after name and date after date after date and anecdote after anecdote after anecdote. I couldn't keep track of what was happening, and I couldn't care less. This is precisely the kind of history that makes millions of schoolchildren claim to hate history. There's barely a word on what it was actually like to live in Florence in certain time periods, and almost no thought given to the lowest classes of society (except when they band together and temporarily threaten the upper crust). This is a beautiful book which I will happily stack horizontally under many other books on some display shelf or coffee table in my future. I have no intentions of ever opening it again.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David Mclaughlin

    Comprehensive history of the beautiful city of Florence from its earliest days as a small Roman trading town through the modern era. I decided to read this after a recent trip and really made much of what I saw come more to life. Would recommend for those who aren’t familiar with Italian or Florentine history (particularly the history of the Medici and their rule in Florence).

  9. 5 out of 5

    Everett

    Exactly what the title says. It is a biography of Florence from 59BC to 1992. It touches on most of the high points and gives a decent overview of the growth and power holders of the city. Florence is beautiful and this is a good beginner history of the city.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Phillip

    3.5 / 5.0 ENCYCLOPEDIAL TREATMENT OF FLORENCE HISTORY. PICTURES ARE LABELED AND BLENDED INTO TEXT USEFULLY. WISH AUTHOR COULD FIND A WAY TO INTEGRATE ART AND ARCHITECTURE NOTES FROM 50 PAGE APPENDIX INTO NARRATIVE

  11. 4 out of 5

    Martin Ridgway

    Briefly, this could do with a bit more history and a lot less of the pen-portraits of the participants. The latter swamp the narrative.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Pushon Bhattacharya

    An outstanding book detailing the rich history of this fine city that doesn't skimp on detail. An outstanding book detailing the rich history of this fine city that doesn't skimp on detail.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    A comprehensive history of Florence. I bought it for a trip there, but ended up reading the book and not visiting the city sadly. Heigh ho.... Still, an interesting read, expensive on the kindle and you miss out on a lot of the illustrations too. It covers the period from Roman times to 1966, but the part most interesting is the Renaissance of course. I was trying to cross-reference the artists discussed with my guide book. I love Renaissance art and I think Italy is fabulous anyway. It's interest A comprehensive history of Florence. I bought it for a trip there, but ended up reading the book and not visiting the city sadly. Heigh ho.... Still, an interesting read, expensive on the kindle and you miss out on a lot of the illustrations too. It covers the period from Roman times to 1966, but the part most interesting is the Renaissance of course. I was trying to cross-reference the artists discussed with my guide book. I love Renaissance art and I think Italy is fabulous anyway. It's interesting the artists tended to be based primarily in one city (hence Donatello and Michaelangelo lived most of their productive lives there) and how the Tuscan cities tried to outcompete each other. The role of the Medicis is discussed - would Florence have been the city it was without the Medicis? It was not just one person but generation after generation of art lovers. All we have these days is the Saatchis which is a depressing thought... After the glory of the middle ages Florence's star turned shabby. The section on the nineteenth century was rather dull, as it was just a catalogue on the famous people who visited. The descriptions regarding the second world war were interesting though, particularly how there seemed to be a tacit agreement between the Germans and Allies not to bomb Florence. As to be visiting, maybe next time....

  14. 5 out of 5

    John Crane

    As a big fan of Florence, I was so looking forward to this book. After a month and a half of slogging through this, I was less than impressed. The writing is stilted and focuses on minutiae that is less than interesting. Though there were some interesting moments (the life of Dante), overall, I felt like Mr Hibbert needs to write for the common reader. I am a big history buff, so I have enjoy reading history. But this was so devoid of any personal touch, I felt like I was being lectured to by an As a big fan of Florence, I was so looking forward to this book. After a month and a half of slogging through this, I was less than impressed. The writing is stilted and focuses on minutiae that is less than interesting. Though there were some interesting moments (the life of Dante), overall, I felt like Mr Hibbert needs to write for the common reader. I am a big history buff, so I have enjoy reading history. But this was so devoid of any personal touch, I felt like I was being lectured to by an old European professor. I wouldn't recommend this book. There must be something better out there....

  15. 5 out of 5

    Julian Bennett

    I bought this to prepare for our trip to Florence but it is somewhat heavier than I expected and I'm not sure that I will remember much of what I have read. It is a very complete history of Florence and explains very well the different factions and leaders over the centuries. It was probably slightly lighter on the art than I was expecting but the notes at the back do flesh that out. I bought this to prepare for our trip to Florence but it is somewhat heavier than I expected and I'm not sure that I will remember much of what I have read. It is a very complete history of Florence and explains very well the different factions and leaders over the centuries. It was probably slightly lighter on the art than I was expecting but the notes at the back do flesh that out.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Williams

    A fascinating and informative read. However, it only really covers up to the flood in 1966 (and doesn't say anything about the 1950s. So it coud do with an update. Still a great book though with useful notes. A fascinating and informative read. However, it only really covers up to the flood in 1966 (and doesn't say anything about the 1950s. So it coud do with an update. Still a great book though with useful notes.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    Good to bring on the airplane when you are going to Florence... A bit "academic" for a popular book, but this didn't bother me. Good to bring on the airplane when you are going to Florence... A bit "academic" for a popular book, but this didn't bother me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gareth Evans

    Worthy, but rather dull.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ivana Lepojev Kulešević

    Lovely read :)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Donna Burtwistle-Popplewell

    Love this author and love this city...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rocher Rodriguez

  22. 5 out of 5

    BOSTJAN MAKAROVIC

  23. 4 out of 5

    Scott Reston

  24. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Liley

  25. 4 out of 5

    Annabel

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lars J. Nilsson

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mick Scheinin

  28. 4 out of 5

    James Liam Cook

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jessie Smith

  30. 4 out of 5

    Fi

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