on 5 May 2013
Well, my only qualification in history is at degree level and so I would not judge this on the quality of the narrative which is high. This said its a contribution phrased as a standard narrative approach to history. There are two chapters lodged in the centre by Michael Mallet and they are more thematic but frankly I got the impression that they are not the basis of a book but rather like a pair of articles. So, what can one say - perhaps there's a lack of good historical record on these wars and this book provides that but if one wants a global view then maybe one would have to sift it a bit?
on 11 July 2014
I believe that only five stars are possible for this wonderfully researched book--The Italian Wars 1494 – 1559 by Michael Mallett and Christine Shaw--concerning a very complex subject, the Renaissance or Italian Wars. The book is nearly a day-by-day, blow-by-blow description of this vastly important period. It’s a long book, very detailed, but in ways, for me, not nearly detailed enough. For example, there’s nothing on Charles VIII’s meeting with Pope Alexander VI, whom he at first tried to depose and then ended up on his knees, slavering over the pope’s ring. Alexander handed over the Turk Djem to Charles but we’re told absolutely nothing about Djem, even though his story is incredibly fascinating. We’re told that terrible massacres took place, that the vanquishers feasted, but nothing on the rivers of blood and semen that was an integral part. Charles himself had a premature death, totally unique, but we don’t learn how he died. In other words, the book should have been twice as long, and anecdotes à la Herodotus, would have kept us on the edge of our seats because what took place backstage was simply staggering. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.