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Street Fight in Naples: A City's Unseen History Paperback – 5 Jul 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (5 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408822326
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408822326
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 190,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Remarkable ... [an] atmospheric and erudite portrait of a fascinating city (Sunday Times)

Finely crafted ... offers is a vivid sense of the infinite layers in a city older than Rome that was once the biggest in Western Europe (The Economist)

Never fails to take one's breath away (Financial Times)

Robb joyfully flouts the staid chronology of the conventional historian ... I have rarely read a more vivid account of the city's often menacing claims on a visitor (Times Literary Supplement)

Book Description

A vivid memoir which brings Naples and its extraordinary history to life

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Dr David Mankin VINE VOICE on 10 Sept. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have no doubt that the (at best) quirky, and (at worst) confusing chronology of events made sense to Peter Robb as he was (planning?)and writing the book. At times the disjointed and fragmented approach applied to the narrative almost works; and many of the author's rich and vivid descriptions of the city made me believe I could almost smell and taste the different 'flavours' found in the crowded, dirty and dark streets of Naples. However, for anyone, like myself, who has never visited Naples and knows very little about the city's history, reading the book is too often a disorienting experience as the author jumps eras and events in an almost random manner. The overall effect is of a rather jumbled and at times confusing (and confused) account. I found I had to put the book down on several occasions in order to consult other books to check out some contextual details to help me better understand what the author was trying to communicate. This is a shame because there is no doubt that Peter Robb knows Naples intimately. I just wish he hadn't made the assumption that readers' knowledge of the city would be equal to the structural device adopted by him. It is still worth reading for the highlights (e.g. the sections on artists such as Caravaggio).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although this book has some flaws, (it goes on a bit in places) I really enjoyed it. I know Naples quite well and am aware of the artists and paintings covered in the book, so it was especially interesting to me. I read it on my Kindle, on holiday on the Amalfi coast, with an iPad handy to look up the works of art that were referenced (essential I felt as there were few illustrations, even in the hard back version). My friend was subjected to my reading passages allowed, and eventually downloaded it on his iPad because he liked the sound of it. He did not enjoy it as much as I did, possibly because he did not have my background in the arts. The book is full of delightful stories, both historical and contemporary and, if you love the area and art history, it is wonderful.
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Format: Hardcover
Robb can be a frustrating writer, as he wanders in and out of subjects. Midnight in Sicily was wonderful. This book has a lot going for it, but I did find the organization vexing now and then.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A beautiful and profound evocation of Napoli.

A travel guide it is not. And if you have not been to the city itself the way the material is organised may appear bizarre. But Peter Robb is our guide into the art of several key figures, Caravaggio, Boccaccio and others, whose work is in Naples. This device is his the entrance into the many facets of Napoli to show that which may not seen by a casual visitor or tourist.

Whilst it took a while to see what he was getting at and, yes it will have you consulting other sources, I enjoyed this approach to the city of Naples. So, rather than tales and facts about the conventions of historical buildings or political figures or the usual kinds of events that make up a tourist guide or history book, by his approach I was forced to think again about how history of a place is told. Why not tell the story of the place and its people through works of art and the artists who made them? This introduces us to the living tradition of the people of Naples, and their relationship to power and those who have ruled there. It shows the city itself is a work of art of those who have lived there and continue to live there.

The street fight might appear to be an argument between two Neapolitan women in present day but this will lead you to Piazza Mercato and the revolt of 1647, and where Pagano was hung after the revolution of 1799. You will go and visit there on your next visit, I did!

Without the meandering fog of many who try to do 'psychogeography' Peter Robb manages to carry the present, past and even the future of this wonderful place. If you love Naples try it, this book is worthy of the city.
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