Top critical review
Very good on content. On style, not so much.
on 28 April 2016
I came to this book off the back of Professor Raymond de Roover's "The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank", which is definitive, comprehensive, authoritative, dense, and dry as the Sahara. In some way, this is the "anti-Roover", dealing with a similar subject matter but in a very different style. In terms of content it's an interesting, even enlightening read. Parks joins the dots on the commerce and banking systems of the era with great insight, and is particularly good with his cool appraisal of Lorenzo the Magnificent, who is rightly said to be too often the object of hagiography. Some of the passages on metaphysics and philosophy are somewhat opaque, even after reading them twice (if I can't work out what someone's talking about after two tries, I'm never going to). Where for me the book falls down is the style of writing: it is choppy and staccato, constantly lurching from present to past tense and back again for no apparent reason. The short sentences sometimes dispense with verbs altogether, and I found rhetorical questions to be overused and irritating. The overall effect, I'm afraid, is that the author seems inordinately pleased with himself. Possibly best read in small doses.