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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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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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on 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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on 8 September 2011
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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on 7 November 2014
Disappointing. I found it a bit boring as most of the first two thirds of the book was virtually a long list of popes, their 'problems' and what they had done. The latter part of the book (Napoleon, Garibaldi etc) felt as though it had been abbreviated in order to keep the book at a reasonable size. Sorry, even two stars is being kind.
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on 16 September 2011
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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on 21 April 2014
Very readable account of the crazy city I now call home. To make it more useful, and so as to be able to converse with others about what I've read, I've written names of people and places in Italian in the margins.
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on 2 June 2013
I used this for some research I was doing and it was excellent. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars was because the early Roman information was a little thin, and the middle section did seem to labour, although this is understandable. There are excellent depictions of people as well as the places in the city which I enjoyed.
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on 29 September 2015
A lot of assumptions made. A good book for someone visiting Rome but only a start. Too much time spent detailing every emperor and pope coukd be beter spent giving more detail on key events.
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on 16 November 2015
This was dull as dishwater, the only good thing was the pictures. It must be hard to make something so fascinating laborious to read
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on 22 September 2013
Beautifully written, full of fascinating detail - but lightly told, It completely enhanced my enjoyment of Rome on a first visit
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