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The Venetian Empire: A Sea Voyage by [Morris, Jan]
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The Venetian Empire: A Sea Voyage Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Length: 212 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3598 KB
  • Print Length: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (4 Jan. 1990)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI922U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #203,013 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A glorious addendum to her Venice (1960).
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I've read a number of Jan Morris's books with great enjoyment, including her three-volume history of the British Empire, but no-one could call her a serious historian.

She adopts a cheery tone and prefers descriptions of people and places to historical events and social development and her jaunty style ensures a good read.

While this approach can be successful in short bites - short magazine articles or the unlinked separate chapters of the British Empire books - it can become tedious when stretched over a whole book.

This is the case here as Morris sets out on a journey throughout the areas controlled by Venice when it was one of the world's most enterprising and dynamic republics.

She takes us down the Adriatic through former Yugoslavia, the isles of Greece and across to Istanbul and yaks away like a tourist guide whose style arouses as many yawns as glimmers of interest as she pads out her narrative with lots of dull, irrelevant details.

One of the main failings is that many of the places no longer have any cultural connection with Venice or even physical remains so we have to listen to Morris imagining how things would have been hundreds of years earlier. Much of what she says is also superfluous and superficial.

Another failing is that my edition (Penguin) does not even have a map showing the extent of Venice's influence so I had to follow Morris's voyage with an atlas by my side.

It's not a bad book but I would recommend taking it in small doses.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The title of this review comes from Wordsworth's sonnet `On the Extinction of the Venetian Republic' that is quoted in Jan Morris's splendid introduction. Subtitled "A Sea Voyage", Jan Morris's book will undoubtedly and inescapably be compared with the more recent book (and TV series) by Francesco da Mosto. (Francesco's book on Venice itself in my opinion won hands down over Jan Morris's own.) But the two books also compliment each other too, not least in the fact that each covers areas that the other leaves out.

Originally published in an illustrated edition in 1980, this is a review of the Penguin edition of 1990, that has no illustrations whatsoever beyond the engravings (courtesy of Venice's Naval History Museum) of the towns and forts that the Venetians ruled and built. Alas, their reproductions are too small to be useful. There also is a map of the journey that Morris takes, but that of Venice itself is hopeless and requires a magnifying glass to view properly. This is all a great shame, because if this edition had had the same sumptuous plates that adorn Francesco da Mosto's book, then it would merit the full five stars. This is because it is so well written; one feels that one should breathe in deeply at each comma, to take time and savour the wonderful descriptions and the vivid tales. She has a marvellous way with words, such as Venice's own Saint Mark's Square, "Napoleon's finest drawing-room in Europe", being "really a lobby for the eastern Mediterranean."

At the start of the introduction, Morris writes that hers "is a traveller's book, geographically arranged, but space and time are jumbled in it and I have wondered at will from the landscapes and sensations of out day into events, suggestions and substances of the past.
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It's a beautiful read that brings Venice's history to life. Great for the repeat visitor who wants more depth than, say, the Rough Guide has space for. Very strong on La Serenissima's impact on its neighbours - presents the Agean islands and Constantinople in a new light and would be of interest to those travelling there also. Probably too personal and selective for the scholarly historian. Enjoyable, however, and if you haven't been to Venice, it'll make you want to go.
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