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The Borgias Paperback – 7 Jul 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (7 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849019940
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849019941
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 248,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Rather more than the story of an extraordinary and vicious family, The House Of Borgia is an engrossing account of a country divided up into a collection of constantly warring states, of
alliances made and broken and of almost unimaginable power and wealth there for the taking by those ruthless enough to let nothing stand in the way of their vaulting ambitions.

(Daily Express)

... a coherent and colourful historical record of the Borgias. (Literary Review)

Few could have told the story better ... pacy, uncluttered and an eye for resonant detail. Sparkling. (Tribune)

A tale of greed, nepotism, assassination and relentless jostling for power. (Sunday Times)

Hibbert tells a good story. (Times Literary Supplement)

In the last book he wrote before he died Hibbert captures quite brilliantly the extravagence and immorality at the heart of the papal empire on the eve of the Reeformation. (Good Book Guide)

Book Description

Warlords, Popes, Poisoners - the true story of the Borgias, the first family of the Italian Renaissance

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By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Aug. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Christopher Hibbert is an author who has written many history books and historical biographies and now turns his attention to that infamous family, the Borgias. It is worth mentioning that this book has been previously published as "The House of Borgia" and is now released as a kindle edition with a different title, so beware if you think it is a new book. Saying that, this is a very good introduction to the Borgias and well worth investigating if you have not already read it.

Rome is first described as the 'crumbling city' and the book describes the rise of Rodrigo Borgia. He was Vice-Chancellor of the Holy See when his uncle became Pope Calixtus III. When the Pope died, Rodrigo supported Pius II in conclave and his position of Vice-Chancellor was confirmed. The most talented of Calixtus's nephew, he was a Cardinal at 25, Vice Chancellor at 27, at a time when nespotism was rife. Rodrigo was certainly not above using nespotism himself, even more widely, although he is also described as both able and competent.

In 1492, Rodrigo Borgia became Pope Alexander VI at 61 years old. Never one to be shy about success he shouted "I am Pope! I am Pope!" to the crowd, amidst accusations he bribed his way to the Papacy. Despite criticisms though, he was affable, approachable and stopped the lawlessness left behind by his predecessor, Innocent VIII. He heard complaints himself, established prison inspectors and restored order. He was a mixture of traits - dignified, cunning, shrewd, intelligent, ambitious, immodest and vicious. Borgia had apartments decorated with gilded stucco work, such as that discovered in the remains of the Golden House of Nero, yet kept a frugal table.
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Format: Paperback
I noticed that there were a lot of mixed reviews for this book when I came to review it, some people saying that the book is an interesting, good introduction to the Borgias, others complaining that the book is boring and focuses on trivial detail whilst refraining from passing judgement on its eponymous subject. I think both camps are right about this one, and that has caused me to consider this book's intended readership.

The book is a largely descriptive narrative of the rise and fall of the Borgias, drawing upon a selection of primary and secondary sources to present events in a fairly standard, chronological layout. The book does not delve into a critical examination of the sources themselves, or provide any analysis about the debates and controversies surrounding the Borgias. That said, I felt the writing style flowed and it was altogether an easy read.

In conclusion, I think potential readers need to consider whether this book is for them before picking it up. If you know little to nothing about the Borgias and want to expand your knowledge, fill in your gaps, and do so with a nice, straightforward read, this is indeed a good book for what you've got in mind. However, if your knowledge of the Borgias is a bit more extensive, and/or you're more of a serious scholar or enquiring historian, this book won't fit the bill because it won't provide the in depth quality and analysis you're looking for. It is a fairly good introduction to the Borgias, but that's all it is.
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Format: Paperback
Christopher Hibbert has a high and long-standing reputation for writing on a very wide range of historical subjects, and I approached 'The Borgias' with the confidence of many good reads behind me. I was disappointed.

Perhaps he suffered from his collaborator, who may not have had his knowledge and credentials. Perhaps he was bound hand and foot by the publisher`s brief to write a particular kind of book. Perhaps he simply lent his name to a book written largely by somebody else. I don`t know. But, whatever the reason, the book did not come up to the high standards we have come to expect from him.

It was as if he had been commissioned to write a scandal-sheet about the Borgias. We were inundated with details of journeys, furnishings, banquets, murders, intrigues, fashions, and clothes, and swamped with unfamiliar Italian names.

There did not seem to be any attempt made to pass any kind of judgment on Alexander VI`s pontificate. There was not a single mention of two of the most important events of it, namely, the discovery of America, and the famous Treaty of Tordesillas, which divided the world into two spheres of influence for Spain and Portugal. The single reference to Columbus was to attribute the spread of syphilis to the return of his sailors from a disease-infested New World - so we are back to the scandal-sheet again. Cesare Borgia, Alexander`s son, who looked as if he might be a really influential figure, does not emerge as any kind of a statesmen (at any rate no attempt is made again to assess his statesmanship or lack of it), and he suddenly disappears from the narrative as a random casualty of a war, with no obituary, no comment, no judgment.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
We have all heard of the Borgias but they have remained, for me at least, a shadowy family dimly linked to an Italian past. Hibbert brings this all to life and puts it all in context, from the observations of Machiavelli to the marriages of Lucrezia to the downright disgusting sexual behaviour and temporal greed of the Popes. Well written, easy to read, this is history at the height of the Reformation of one of the most influential dynasties in Europe.
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