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Rome: The Biography of a City [Paperback]

Christopher Hibbert
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Oct 1987
This beautifully written, informative study is a portrait, a history and a superb guide book, capturing fully the seductive beauty and the many layered past of the Eternal City. It covers 3,000 years of history from the city’s quasi-mythical origins, through the Etruscan kings, the opulent glory of classical Rome, the decadence and decay of the Middle Ages and the beauty and corruption of the Renaissance, to its time at the heart of Mussolini’s fascist Italy. Exploring the city’s streets and buildings, peopled with popes, gladiators, emperors, noblemen and peasants, this volume details the turbulent and dramatic history of Rome in all its depravity and grandeur.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Re-issue edition (15 Oct 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140070788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140070781
  • Product Dimensions: 3.1 x 18.9 x 24.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Christopher Hibbert wrote more than fifty acclaimed books, including The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici and Rome: The Biography of a City. A leading popular historian whose works reflect meticulous scholarship, he was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He died in December 2008.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
In the days of Augustus, the first of the Roman emperors, a young writer from Padua, Titus Livius, brought to a close the first part of his epic history of the city in which he had come to live. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Revealing 15 Dec 2001
Hibbert's book is an essential companion for anyone interested in the 'Caput Mundi': it's very well laid out; to the point; honest and extremely interesting, as any book should be when its intention is to describe the evolution of one of the world's oldest and most historically relevant cities. Put down your wishy-washy tourist book and pick up this. The one pity is that it's a bit big and not very portable if one wants to pass through Rome as a back packer which is the situation I found myself in reading it. Anyway, get it for before or after.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must for anyone travelling to the Eternal City 27 May 2003
Hibbert's history of Rome, from Romulus to Mussolini, is an excellent introduction to the events that have shaped this incredible city.
This is not a history of the Roman Republic, Empire, Papacy, Renaissance or Risorgimento. Instead the focus remains fixed on the city of Rome itself: its buildings, reputation and inhabitants. Its streets and piazzas have witnessed so many of the crucial moments in these states and movements but Hibbert's work ventures away from the city walls only for a full introduction to events within.
The history adds an additional element to any visit to Rome, not only providing a history of the major landmarks but also helping the visitor imagine the city in lost eras. The only major improvement needed is a better map (or collection of maps) as the current one makes following the action frustratingly difficult.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and informative read 8 Sep 2011
By Calum
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book collects all the history and stories of Rome and brings them all together in a masterful blend of history, information and excitement that only Christopher Hibbert knows how. The book begins in the hills of Rome with the legend of Romulus, Remus and the she wolf. From here Hibbert quite quickly moves through the early history of Rome as a city of Kings into its most obvious history as that of the capital of the Roman empire. This section is very informative, however anyone looking for some deep insight into Roman history should look elsewhere as this book does not dwell on anything other than what affected Rome. The fall of the empire is followed by a section in which there seems to be a lot of names and places that play a role in Rome of the past and the book focuses on the Dark ages of Rome with invasion and destruction. The best section of the book focuses on the Renaissance period that contains the Rome we all know of today and this is when Rome gains her mantle as the city that founded the Renaissance. The latter sections of the book that contain modern Rome and the Mussolini years are quite boring and to be honest are once again name dropping pages and add little to the book, however they do provide a nice era and section to end the book on.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very densely packed with facts but never tedious 16 Sep 2011
By MvV
I bought this book because it was one of the very few books I could find about the history of Rome that didn't end with the fall of the Roman Empire. It's a big book, and very densely packed with facts, so it's not a very fast read and you should also not expect to remember everything you read. Also, because its subject is so immense, it doesn't go into much depth about any of the periods or people in it.
I still gave it five stars, though, because it is exactly what it says it is: a biography of a city. I read it as preparation before moving to Rome, and though I did not remember exactly which pope ruled when and what he built, I did get some sort of a feel for the city before I left, feeling like I knew it like one knows a person after reading a biography. Also, it's a great book to read with wikipedia next to it, so you can find out more about certain buildings or people if you want to.
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