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Brunelleschi's Dome: The Story of the Great Cathedral in Florence by [King, Ross]
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Brunelleschi's Dome: The Story of the Great Cathedral in Florence Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Length: 192 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled Page Flip: Enabled

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Amazon Review

Filippo Brunelleschi's design for the dome of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence remains one of the most towering achievements of Renaissance architecture. Completed in 1436, the dome remains a remarkable feat of design and engineering. Its span of over 140 feet exceeds St Paul's in London and St Peter's in Rome, and even outdoes the Capitol in Washington DC, making it the largest dome ever constructed using bricks and mortar. The story of its creation and its brilliant but "hot-tempered" creator is told in Ross King's delightful Brunelleschi's Dome.

King has already established himself as an accomplished novelist, author of Domino, Ex-Libris, and the story of both dome and architect offer him plenty of rich material. The story of the dome goes back to 1296 when work began on the cathedral but it was only in 1420, when Brunelleschi won a competition over his bitter rival Lorenzo Ghiberti to design the daunting cupola, that work began in earnest. King weaves an engrossing tale from the political intrigue, personal jealousies, dramatic setbacks and sheer inventive brilliance that led to the paranoid Filippo, "who was so proud of his inventions and so fearful of plagiarism" finally seeing his dome completed only months before his own death. King argues that it was Filippo's improvised brilliance in solving the problem of suspending the enormous cupola in bricks and mortar (painstakingly detailed with precise illustrations) that led him to "succeed in performing an engineering feat whose structural daring was without parallel". He tells a compelling and informed story, ranging from discussions of the construction of the bricks, mortar and marble that made up the dome, to its subsequent use as a scientific instrument by the Florentine astronomer Paolo Toscanelli. --Jerry Brotton

Review

"An adventure yarn set on the wild frontiers of human knowledge... abounding with excellent stories." (FINANCIAL TIMES)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3746 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (19 Jan. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00351YF4I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #186,938 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is another great read from Mr. King. A week or two ago I finished his wonderful "Michelangelo And The Pope's Ceiling" and at that point I decided I'd have to read "Brunelleschi's Dome". Over the past year or so I'd seen "Brunelleschi's Dome" in various bookstores and I'd skimmed through the pages- never buying it because I was put off by the technical illustrations. I figured this must be a book meant for architects and engineers. But I was wrong. While there is no denying that the technical aspects are a major part of the book, the illustrations are very useful in helping the lay reader to understand the ingenious solutions that Brunelleschi came up with to overcome the numerous technical difficulties involved in the construction of such a large dome. By going into the nitty-gritty of the construction process, Mr. King allows us to appreciate Filippo's accomplishment. After all, this was a man who was a goldsmith and clockmaker- not an architect! And even though the book is under 200 pages in length, Mr. King manages to include a lot of interesting peripheral information. We learn about the lives of the masons who worked on the dome- how many days they worked (only about 200 per year, actually. They had off Sundays and religious feast days, which came about once a week. They also couldn't work in bad weather); what they ate and drank (surprisingly, although they were a couple of hundred of feet above the ground they drank wine! Considering water quality at the time, wine was considered healthier. Florentines also believed that it "improved the blood, hastened digestion, calmed the intellect, enlivened the spirit, and expelled wind". Mr. King adds that wine "might also have given a fillip of courage to men clinging to an inward-curving vault..."!). Filippo was very safety-conscious.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
as a modern day consultant working on large projects, I found this book very uplifting. Things haven't changed too much! As a regular visitor to Italy it enhanced my knowledge of one of the great wonders. This is a novel, a history book, a study in human nature; it is amusing, enlightening and intellectually sound.
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Format: Paperback
Brunelleschi's Dome
I had thought about buying this book for some time, and finally took the plunge. Although it is only a short book, it is filled with detail and clear that the author had thoroughly researched the book prior to writing. However, despite all of this I did find it hard going, and this, is possibly because I have never visited Florence and so was not as familiar as I could be with the subject of the book. I have since given the book to someone else who thoroughly enjoyed the book but who was more knowledgeable about the area and history of Florence than myself.

For a book about the architecture and construction of such an iconic building it seemed surprisingly short of pictures, more of which may have helped in the understanding of the text. I also felt I would have liked to have known more about the man who masterminded the building of the dome - but perhaps there was not much more to tell about someone who made such a massive undertaking his life's work.

Overall, an interesting read, but, as already suggested by an earlier review, perhaps is best appreciated by those who are already familiar with the subject matter.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is a great book to read. Buy the book, take a week off, go to Florence and read the book THERE - you will admire the book so much more if you visit the Duomo before and after reading the book. It is fascinating how such a project started whitout anyone being sure if it could ever be finished.
It is interesting from so many different angles - architecture, history, project management, change management, life as such, great achievements of mankind, and so on, and so on... - that I find it difficult to classify this book as a history book, an architecture book, a biography, a management text, or something else.
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By A Customer on 1 Sept. 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a really excellent read, both in its description of the construction of the dome and in the way it adds colour to both Brunelleschi and the rest of contemporary Florence. The only criticism I would have of the text is that some of the technical descriptions of how the dome was built are difficult to follow - I found myself having to read them two or three times before I understood what the author was getting at. And the book would really benefit from more, and better, illustrations - a large format version of the book with proper colour photographs and plans would be great.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read this terrifically interesting book before and bought this for a friend. Having lived in Florence for 10 years I know how much the magnificent Duomo (Cathedral) is the central focus of the city's life although living close to it can be a bit noisy when the great bell sounds! I would have thought essential reading for all who love Florence and for all architecture students too. A brilliant red.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was lent a copy of this book by a friend after I visited Florence. I feared it would be very academic and hard to read but found it to be so interesting, and very readable, that I felt compelled to buy a copy for myself. I recommend this book to anyone who has visited Florence or who is interested in architecture. It gives an fascinating account of medieval Florence and the challenges faced by the builders of the Duomo, especially the challenge of building the dome.
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