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The Italian Renaissance

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  259 Ratings  ·  24 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
Mar 03, 2013 Peter Van rated it liked it
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
Jun 10, 2012 David Withun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Marcus Glover
Feb 17, 2015 Marcus Glover rated it it was amazing
The Italian Renaissance is a very good book and very descriptive and is packed with a lot of information I enjoyed reading and I bet you will. to.
Mel Bossa
Aug 24, 2016 Mel Bossa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0007-history
Interesting essays on Machiavelli and Michelangelo...

Shae Johnson
Jul 02, 2015 Shae Johnson rated it liked it
Some was interesting, but mostly it read like a textbook. I would have enjoyed more and learned more had the author included anecdotal stories of historic events.
Jul 21, 2014 Gary rated it liked it
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
Sam Ruddick
Jun 03, 2012 Sam Ruddick rated it liked it
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
Martha Alami
This is a selection of articles on various persons, places and events that influenced the development of the Renaissance in Italy. Having been to many of the places and seen many of the artworks, I found it to include a lot of interesting information. Some of the topics I had never heard of so the perspective was very informative. The book is not written by the late historian J. H. Plumb but includes various authors and scholars. They were all well researched and easy to read, however, I found m ...more
Aug 24, 2012 Mike rated it it was amazing
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
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
Paul Pellicci
Oct 29, 2009 Paul Pellicci rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
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.
Stephen Brooke
Jul 28, 2014 Stephen Brooke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
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
Sep 25, 2011 Pam rated it liked it
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
Scotty Cameron
Feb 16, 2015 Scotty Cameron rated it really liked it
This is a great brief overview of the renaissance. It is written two parts. The first being a quick breakdown of the factors that contributed to the renaissance. Then part two is a collection of essays by other authors about individual facets of the renaissance.

It's a great book for those that want a quick window to what was going on in Italy during a magnificent period In human civilization.

Scotty Cameron
Aug 11, 2010 Josh rated it liked it
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.
Richard  Allen
Aug 18, 2015 Richard Allen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Renaissance - A Short and Excellent History

The book is not the work of one author, but many. Mr. Plumb chose wisely when he chose authors of each chapter. In some, even most respects, The Renaissance WAS Italy as much as Italy was The Renaissance. My notes, when I download them, will look like Cliff Notes for an exam.
Rasmus Nord
Apr 27, 2015 Rasmus Nord rated it really liked it
Great overview and introduction. Each chapter concerns itself with a city, person or theme, which is both a strength and weakness. It is very readable, but some readers might miss a more coherent in depth treatment.
Mike Harper
Oct 15, 2013 Mike Harper rated it liked it
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.
Apr 07, 2010 AC rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 10, 2007 agnes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great chapters on da vinci, machiavelli & the medici's
Jul 09, 2010 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
College textbook for Renaissance history class.
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.
Selma rated it it was amazing
Sep 26, 2014
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Goodreads Librari...: Horizon Book of the Renaissance 2 22 Jul 20, 2012 05:59AM  
  • Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance
  • The Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance
  • April Blood: Florence and the Plot Against the Medici
  • Fabulous Feasts: Medieval Cookery and Ceremony
  • Magnifico: The Brilliant Life and Violent Times of Lorenzo de' Medici
  • The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy
  • The Oxford History of Medieval Europe
  • The Devil's Broker: Seeking Gold, God, and Glory in Fourteenth- Century Italy
  • The Feud That Sparked the Renaissance: How Brunelleschi and Ghiberti Changed the Art World
  • Art in Renaissance Italy
  • The Crusades: A History (Yale Nota Bene)
  • History of Italian Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture
  • The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall
  • Michelangelo
  • The Complete Pompeii
  • The Making of the Middle Ages
  • The Art of the Renaissance
  • Western Europe in the Middle Ages 300-1475

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