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Tilt: A Skewed History of the Tower of Pisa
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Tilt: A Skewed History of the Tower of Pisa

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  198 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
In the tradition of Brunelleschi's Dome, comes a lively and richly informative chronicle of one of the world's most famous--and famously flawed--architectural and cultural icons, all presented in an innovative and striking format. (Architecture)
Hardcover, 161 pages
Published October 7th 2003 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2003)
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Aug 23, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italy
This book is unbalanced. It's short, but the author spends more time explaining why he thinks Galileo did not drop things from the tower than he does explaining how engineers stopped it from falling over.
I have a strange relationship with the Tower of Pisa. I'm a massive history buff, and last year I finally had the opportunity to visit Europe and places like Pisa.

While looking up at the architectural wonder of the tower, I wasn't looking where I was going - fell down a step awkwardly and wound up flat on my back under the tower - and the rest of my time in Italy involved a lot of pain, doctors and the fine print of my travel insurance, not to mention terrible jokes the following weeks when I ha
Nov 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Among Americans, anyway, the bell tower in Pisa competes with the Eiffel tower as the most visually recognized European edifice. Other buildings are given more cultural significance—the Vatican, Colosseum, Versailles, Westminster Abbey—but everyone can instantly recognize the “leaning tower of Pisa.”

Nicholas Shrady has done us all a nice favor by assembling a breezy little history of the tower. He explores the tower’s mysteries, some explained (Why does the tower tilt?), others not (Who designed
Johnny D
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a quick and entertaining look into the storied past of one of Italy's most recognizable landmarks, the Tower of Pisa.

I was entranced by the account of Pisa's seafaring past and the origins of this remarkable landmark. Despite the short length of this book, Shrady still manages to tell a tale worthy of this amazing piece of architecture. In my humble opinion, the Tower of Pisa would be a breath-taking architectural wonder with or without its signature tilt.

I thoroughly enjoyed how Shrady
Jun 23, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Tilt busts a few of those and probably prolongs a few more. Shrady provides a pleasant read of the kind you like to have to hand driving in or out of the holiday town du jour. Meandering from this pretty view to that interesting story and on to that amusing anecdote with a paperified tour guide.

Tilt nicely weaves the history of the iconic tower with that of the city and some of its famous inhabitants. It stages Pisa's sudden rise to greatness as a maritime republic, and its equally dramatic fall
Aug 15, 2007 rated it liked it
This is good book. Although it is relatively short, it contains most of the essential highlights of the Leaning Tower's peculiar history, including pertinent historical information on Pisa, Italy and other Mediterranean cities/countries. Various attempts at straightening the tower, or, at least, stop it from leaning further, are well presented, including the most recent efforts in this millennium. The book is well-written and is difficult to put down. I highly recommend it for anyone interested ...more
Kaitlin Throgmorton
I read this during our train rides around Italy, and was happy to know more about what likely would have been a "Look, there it is!" stop in Pisa without reading this. I really enjoyed the extensive look into Pisan history, of which I knew nothing.

However, I do have to agree with other reviewers that the author lingers on some parts of the Tower's history and not others, with no apparent reason -- which is strange. There were also some points that he kept driving home ad nauseum, and for a book
Jan 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history buffs!
Recommended to Franchesca by: the second hand bookshop where I found it.
A lot. Like how Pisa got its "money" to build the cathedral and the leaning tower. And that the tower is leaning at 5.5 degrees. And the encompassing yet fascinating history behind the tower and the place itself, Pisa. Before I was excessively preoccupied with Florence, then Venice, then Florence again. I never gave a thought about Pisa or ever heard the name Buscheto but now I know. The book is really good in that covers everything from the background of Pisa, the wars, and the attempts made to ...more
Nov 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This was very well written and well researched. Shrady covers quite a bit - including the never-dying myth of Galileo dropping various objects off the tower to prove that weight disparity (unless causing enough disparity to involve air resistance - like a feather) makes no difference in the time objects hit the ground. Since I first encountered the leaning tower in my childcraft as a kid, I have been fascinated with it. Now that I've read this book, it is even more impressive. I learned lots of ...more
Dec 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Found this at the annual Fort Mason book sale for $1. A really fun, fast read. Made me realize that I know very little about the history of Italy. Some surprises:
- In 846 A.D. the Muslims sacked Rome
- We know a lot about architects from the 1100's onwards
- That whole story about Galileo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Totally made up.

The book skimmed over the commission that finally figured out how to deal with the lean. I would have liked to read more than five pages about it. My other complaint
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Just a few weeks ago I was browsing the history section of the library, looking for something about Russia, when I saw this book sitting at a strange angle. I tried to straighten it out, but it wouldn't sit properly. Once I pulled it out I couldn't help but let out a stifled chuckle. A literally tilted book about the leaning tower of Pisa? It was too much! It turned out to be a really fun read to boot and I would recommend it to just about anyone.
Bea Elwood
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
I needed a fast read to recover from all the required reading at school and this was a perfect fit. However I felt there was too much time spent on the history prior to 1200 and not nearly enough after that, making the booked skewed if you will. It was great to debunk the myth of Galileo and very interesting to read about how this tower has leaned its way through 800 years despite all these measures to correct it or destroy it, especially when other towers have collapsed under less conditions.
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
A small but jammed packed book about the history of Pisa of which I was ignorant and all the events and people that were involved with the Leaning Tower. It also debunks a huge myth about Pisa-born Galileo...! This book is the kind of book that you can read intermittently with another on your nightstand.
Dec 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: italy
This was a very fun and quick read about the history of the world famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. Shrady's interesting narrative takes
us from its original inception as a symbol of Pisa's wordly success through the 19th century vivitors, to Mussolini's misbegotten efforts in the 20th century and right up to present day conservation of this amazing bit of architecture.
Staff Favorites
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Tilt is the story of the tower's singular history in a hugely entertaining and informative narrative. Here is a "biography" that, like its subject, is all the more delightful for its thorough improbability.

An enjoyable and informative read!
May 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: not-finished
It started off interesting, then got super full real fast. It was too many facts and not enough narrative to enjoy the leaning tower. The author was a bit pretentious in his description. I have other books to read, so I'm not gonna force myself to finish this blah book.
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
I usually enjoy micro-history, but this was a dit too dull, too often. Some interesting info but hidden between dull dull dull.
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
A short and unique approach to the architectural history behind the Leaning Tower of Pisa!
Jan 24, 2012 rated it liked it
History of the Tower of Pisa. Not much in it. Too bad, could have been much more interesting.
Erik Graff
Jan 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pisa fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
This is such a short book--a long essay really--that the appended description pretty much covers it, albeit misleadingly. Still, it was a quick, accessible and enjoyable romp.
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book about the Tower of Pisa. How does it stay up? Read it and find out. :) Went to Italy in 2006, but never made it to Pisa, but would like to go to see this.
David Bird
Apr 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Entertaining enough, but the best thing about this book is its design in the hardcover edition.
Colin Dececco
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
quick read. lots of italian history... perferred the history of the building of the tower itself.
Jun 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very readable history-interesting and engaging-not too much information, but enough to clear up rumors and teach you something. Made me want to head back there tomorrow.
Tom Darrow
B-. Skips over large periods in the tower's history. Does a decent job as describing Pisa's power on the world stage.
Nov 17, 2014 rated it liked it
B+ for effort, my unfortunate Shrady.
Apr 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Short, and fun, with interesting anecdotes and facts. Plus, the book itself is titled, which is why I picked it up in the first place.
Jan 30, 2014 rated it did not like it
I tried to read this book. I actually read a couple of chapters, but it didn’t hold my interest.

I like that this book is actually tilted. Clever!
Aug 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
This just goes to show that if the writing is good, you can make a book about any subject interesting.
Apr 01, 2008 rated it did not like it
This started out interesting, but then started leaning towards boredom. By the end of the book my interest started to keel right over.
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