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City of Fortune: How Venice Won and Lost a Naval Empire Paperback – 2 Aug 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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  • City of Fortune: How Venice Won and Lost a Naval Empire
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  • Constantinople: The Last Great Siege, 1453
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  • Empires of the Sea: The Final Battle for the Mediterranean, 1521-1580
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (2 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571245951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571245956
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 128,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Hugely readable, well-written and informative ... Crowley is excellent.' --Stella Tillyard, Daily Telegraph

'Roger Crowley makes a trustworthy and wonderfully eloquent guide ... Crowley is such a natural narrative historian, with such an eye for colourful but telling details and such a knack for dramatic character sketches, that he remains a constant joy to read.' --Christopher Hart, Sunday Times

'... the rise and fall of Venice's empire is an irresistible story and Crowley, with his rousing descriptive gifts and scholarly attention to detail, is its perfect chronicler. For centuries, he notes, the republic's sailors returned home with ''gold, spices, plague and grief''; and in this compelling book, like a scrupulous Venetian merchant, he weighs out full measures of each.' --Michael Prodger, Financial Times

'[An] entertaining and well-researched book, the entire story of this small, fascinating power is laid out.' --Catholic Herald

Book Description

In City of Fortune: How Venice Won and Lost a Naval Empire, from Roger Crowley - the prize-winning author of Empires of the Sea - comes an epic work of narrative maritime history.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am in awe of Mr Crowley. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed his first 2 books Constantinople 1453 and Empire of the sea.,I did not expect a third masterpiece in a row. Well, Venice, city of fortune ranks among the best history books I have ever read.
I have spent the best part of my last 20 summers touring around the Venetian lagoon;I never looked properly !I have learnt more from reading this wonderful book at home than from my unfortunately misguided visits.
The history of the rise anf fall of Venice as a great maritime power is an absolutely terrific story.The 4th crusade and the sacking of Constantinople, the response to the rebellion in Crete, the savage war against their bitter rivals from genoa,etc show the writer's prodigious ability to develop unforgettable,emotionally textured characters and stories.
And when you think that early on'' the city's prosperity rested on nothing tangible-no land holdings,no natural resources,no agricultural production or large population.There was literally no solid ground underfoot.''
Next time, Mr Crowley could end up writing about the most uninteresting topic, but I will be the first one to rush and buy it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read Roger Crowley's two previous books on Constantinople and Empires of the Sea I was delighted to find that City of Fortune has maintained the excellent quality of his writing. Well researched, light enough for a holiday read and top quality maps to help the geographically puzzled to follow the rise and fall of Venice.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While there is no doubt that Crowley is a very good writer and that this book is well written and interesting, this is not a history of Venice. It is more a history of 200 years of Venetian naval warfare between 1300 and 1500. A lot of details about sea battles, a lot of details about the tactical disposition of armies and navies. So, great if you are interested in military history. Not so good if you want an idea of how the Venetian state was organised, day to day life, details on the economy and politics. Even Venice's expansion in Italy is ignored. And if you want to know anything about how the Venetian republic came into existence or indeed what happened after 1500, you need to get a different book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very good accessible book on the sea empire of Venice.
As one comment says, the book is more about some highlights of the history of Venice rather than a complete history. Nevertheless, its quite consistent and relatively well detailed.

There are some average or bad comments but I dont think they are justified. Read the book and judge it yourself. Its only 300/400 pages.

The main attraction is the book I found was its easyness to read. Because its written in such a way that you dont feel time passing. It is not perhaps the best detailed and academic work but it is relatively decent and serious work.

Episodes such as the long drawn fight with Genoa, the siege of Constantinople and the holding of Crete are very well treated.
The battle of Lepanto for some reason was not very clear. Similarly, the taking over by the Turks is also not explained in details or very clearly.

Another good thing, are the numerous sketches, pictures, maps, etc that "plunge" you back in time. However, I understand the book is mainly focus on How Venice won and lost its empire but I would have liked to see a bit more on the life in Venice and the city itself. Because Venice is such a touristic city nowadays, its likely to be read by weekenders looking for a bit of history to read on the city. So a bit more focus on the city itself and not its empire could be welcome by potential buyers.

In summary, a very good accessible and enjoyable book to read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
2011 is the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy; the secessionist Northern League instead claims it will be Italy's last celebration, as by 2061 their federal state, Padania, will finally have become a reality. Coincidentally, following on to his earlier studies on seafaring empires, Roger Crowley has published City of Fortune, on the Republic of Venice or the Serenissima Empire, waved by the red and yellow standard with the lion of St Mark's, a great past power which the separatists noisily announce fully as part their own history for the new state's future.

Crowley takes us on an enchanting historical journey from the decline of Byzantine Empire, to its substitution by Venice, concentrating exclusively on the political-economic history and staying clear of the traditional touristy histories of fine arts and buildings represented by RuskinThe Stones of Venice (1851-53). He treated in depth the capture of Constantinople in June 1204 by Doge Enrico Dandolo, during the Fourth Crusade, depicted four centuries later in Tintoretto's large canvass in the Doge's Palace; the consolidation of its outposts down the Adriatic and the Mediterranean as far as the Black Sea; the galley battles - the Battle of Chioggia in 1379-80 - fought against its principal commercial rival, Genoa, under the banner of St George (Britain's own St George!), a red cross on a white background, until the appearance of its real eastern enemy raised its head at the end of the Fourteenth century.
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