Venice, A Maritime Republic Paperback – 1 Nov 1973
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Students now have an analysis of Venice's fortunes over the whole course of its independent history that they can trust... A crisp and clearly visualized narrative.(Times Literary Supplement)
The best one-volume history of Venice in any language.(American Historical Review)
An up-to-date and comprehensive history of Venice has long been needed, and Professor Lane, as the doyen of historians of Venice, was the obvious man to supply it.(J.H. Elliott New York Review of Books)
Frederic Lane has achieved what is the often unfulfilled dream of every historian who has devoted his entire work to the exploration of partial aspects of a single broad subject: he has given us a comprehensive, thoughtful, readable, beautifully illustrated general history of Venice from the origins to the beginning of decline.(Speculum)
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However, the figures in this paperback edition of Lane are very poorly reproduced. The maps look like they were copied on a xerox machine, rendering the place names illegible. The photographs and depictions of period artwork are virtually unintelligible. Interested readers might be better served to seek out the hardcover edition.
The book chronicles its rapid ascent and ingenuity in being flexible about trading with anyone. The many sea battles also attest to its continued vigilance. Readers might note the resemblences to Britain and its empire.
The writing style is quite readable to a non-historian. Enhanced perhaps by a decision not to have footnotes. The illustrations are also well chosen.
However, his assembly of this weatlh of information is a bit jagged, faltering especially in the books final third. He doesn't follow true chronology, but skips back and fourth between miniscule details from various centuries in the matter of a paragraph or two. This happens, too, in the great "Paris: Biography of a City" by Colin Jones, but he smartly groups these extrapolations out of the timeline into special subsections of his chapters. In Lane, though, it's very easy to find yourself lost at sea unless you really take your time. And lingering in his text can prove tedious, as the onslaught of dates and numbers for all order of minute detail (that could indeed prove very insightful in footnote form) that in the body of the text is more distracting than enlightening.