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The Italian Renaissance

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  151 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Spanning an age that witnessed great achievements in the arts and sciences, this definitive overview of the Italian Renaissance will both captivate ordinary readers and challenge specialists. Dr. Plumb’s impressive and provocative narrative is accompanied by contributions from leading historians, including Morris Bishop, J. Bronowski, Maria Bellonci, and many more, who hav ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 19th 2001 by Mariner Books (first published 1961)
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Peter Van
I have mixed feelings about this book. First of all, the text by Professor Plumb makes up only half of this edition. At a meager 150 pages this cannot be but a superficial introduction to the Italian Renaissance, which is exactly what it is. Not more than 15 pages are spent on themes as broad as 'The Arts', 'Women of the Renaissance' etc. Dividing up such a short book into 10 chapters each devoted to a single topic only accentuates the lack of depth. The writing, however, is fluent and engaging. ...more
David Withun
It was slow in starting, but once it got rolling, this book was terrific! The first several chapters sounded like the "hype" you hear in television commercials for upcoming action flicks, and the style got old after only a few pages. Once the book really began, however, it was excellent through to the end. Plumb and his fellow authors do not shy away from the most terrible and disgusting aspects of the Renaissance, such as the revival of pederasty and the rampant adultery committed by middle cla ...more
Gary
History should be exciting. This book was not. It read as if it was a text book and all of the great stories that take place in this time period and the reason why it was so important for the reformation, enlightenment and today's times are not told within this book. Little context and no narrative is provided.

The author looks at each of the major Italian cities and describes them separately, then looks at some of the importance of painting, art and architecture of the period, and very little of
...more
Mike
This was a tough short book to get through. It is a series of essays on important figures from Renaissance Italy. The essays were generally vague, random, and never had a focus on a particular aspect of its subject. There was no introduction or reason for the particular order of the essays. Often, I found that if I didn't have a knowledge background for a particular figure, I was completely lost as to what the author was talking about. I felt like I did get a decent impression of what Renaissanc ...more
Sam Ruddick
First half's by Plumb himself. Is good. Second half is made up of a bunch of essays by other folks: essays on particular personalities (Machiavelli, Petrarch, Sforza, so on). Is also good.

On the whole, it's a useful overview. Covers art, politics, and literature. Focuses on Florence, Rome, Venice, and Milan. The chapter on Rome is interesting in that it illuminates some of the reasons for the corruption in the Catholic Church. The Church wouldn't have survived that time period without said corru
...more
Mike
Loved this book! The writing is engaging and interesting, bringing the reader right into the thoughts and minds of the people discussed. This text provides a fantastic introduction to those seeking more information on the Italian Renaissance period without being too vague or trying to cover too much. The book is divided into two sections, the first being a general overview of the Renaissance period in Italy, followed by the second part which is a collection of writings from various authors on ke ...more
Stephen Brooke
Although it has been more than fifty years since this little book was published, it remains a decent and reasonably interesting approach to understanding the Renaissance through the lives of some of its leading personalities.

It can be a bit dry. This is the work of historians and sticks to the known facts — there are no fictionalized incidents inserted to spice it up. They are not needed.

Think of them as snapshots. Behind the men and women in the foreground of these pictures are glimpses of the
...more
Pam
This is a good, very approachable yet (I believe) comprehensible overview of the flow of the Renaissance in Italy. It certainly helps if one knows something of this already, which I did but was looking for something to put the parts together into some unit. This nice little book did the job w/ some not generally very good essays by other author/scholars in the second half of the book.

I'm glad to have it in my library. It confirms to me that I enjoy going into depth on particulars, as I've been d
...more
Paul Pellicci
This book was a "can't put down" book for me. I really found interesting how Italy was made up of many city states which most of the time could not get along. The contimual wars, the large death tolls and the diplomacy.

This book goes through the various states and their customes. Venice, ruled in an interesting way. How they picked their rulers and how they relied on every citizen to be a spy.

I would recommend thid book for the reader who is interested in Art, Politics and the Italian way.
Josh
This is interesting, but a little difficult to follow. Instead of a chronological history of the Renaissance, the book is divided into over a dozen different independent reads, any of which could probably exist without the other. Similar to Wallace K. Ferguson's "The Renaissance," this book tends to rely on broad generalities and has few thoroughly told stories about major events.
AC
Very short profiles of Renaissance figures by scholars in other fields (e.g., Hugh Trevor-Roper and Denis Mack Smith). Really an undergraduate book. Bland, dated, and hagiographic.

The 'profile' on Lorenzo de Medici and on the Pazzi Conspiracy was the only one that had spark.
Mike Harper
This is a collection of essays about places and people. I read it in connection with a course about the renaissance. Some of the essays are quite good, and the book served well as a text for the course.
Alison
Oct 18, 2008 Alison is currently reading it
With all the Italian Renaissance art I see in museums over here (I live in France) I wanted to get the full picture of what was going on during this time in history.
John
An uneven collection of essays on representative figures of the period.
Monica
Apr 08, 2010 Monica marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Monica by: AC
Shelves: history, wish-list
I'm checking this our for Lorenzo de Medici's profile re. AC's review.
agnes
great chapters on da vinci, machiavelli & the medici's
Ron
College textbook for Renaissance history class.
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Goodreads Librari...: Horizon Book of the Renaissance 2 21 Jul 20, 2012 05:59AM  
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  • Magnifico: The Brilliant Life and Violent Times of Lorenzo de' Medici
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  • The Elizabethan World Picture
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Sir John (Jack) Harold Plumb, FBA, was a British historian, best known for his work on 18th century Britain.

Educated at Alderman Newton's Grammar School, University College, Leicester and Christ's College, Cambridge, his 1936 doctorate on the social structure of the House of Commons of England under William III was supervised by G. M. Trevelyan. In 1939 he was elected to the Ehrman Fellowship, whi
...more
More about J.H. Plumb...
England in the Eighteenth Century (The Pelican History of England, #7) The First Four Georges (British Monarchy Series) Royal Heritage: The Story Of Britain's Royal Builders And Collectors The Death of the Past The Growth of Political Stability in England, 1675-1725

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