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The Italian Renaissance

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  367 ratings  ·  31 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. Plumbs impressive and provocative narrative is accompanied by contributions from leading historians, including Morris Bishop, J. Bronowski, Maria Bellonci, and many more, who have ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 19th 2001 by Mariner Books (first published 1961)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
A book divided, augmented: first half by Plumb, second half, chapter biographies by Origo on Pius II, Kenneth Clark on Michelangelo, Bronowski on Leonardo. Origo writes like a Renaissance humanist, Success comes most swiftly and completely not to the greatest or perhaps even the ablest men, but to those whose gifts are most completely in harmony with the taste of their time(241). Plumb's chapter on Renaissance Florence notes it was dominated by "the sword and the florin": banking, and to build ...more
David Withun
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Mark Singer
This history of the Italian Renaissance was originally written in 1961 for the general reader, and is helped by Plumb's writing style. My only complaint is that there is no bibliography or suggested further reading. In the Mariner paperback edition, Plumb's narrative ends at page 157. The second half of the book is a series of biographical sketches on assorted figure like Petrarch, Machiavelli, Michelangelo, and others by various authors. As in the first half, there are no notes as to what books ...more
Peter van de Pas
Mar 03, 2013 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
Aug 24, 2012 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 ...more
Mel Bossa
Aug 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0007-history
Interesting essays on Machiavelli and Michelangelo...

Marcus Glover
Feb 17, 2015 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.
Shae Johnson
Jul 02, 2015 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.

Would have made an excellent read but for the flowery language. Though each section was attributed to a different authority yet the text was obviously written by the same author throughout. It would have been more interesting had each section been written by its original contributor.
Overall a fairly comprehensive description of the era described through its most prominent persons.
Cora P Bartemes
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Italian Renaissance Revealed

Unbelievably readable. This book makes the Renaissance come alive and describes this complicated period in terms and description that shed light and meaning to todays reader of history.
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this in advance of a trip to Italy which made it very timely and relevant. Helped to give a good overview of how all the places and names fit together. I did find the writing style to be more academic which I didn't like as much.
Sekhar N Banerjee
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read

Concise but very logical depiction of Renaissance period of Italy. I very much enjoyed reading it, particularly the later chapters on personalities.
Donald McAlpin
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Less a history than a flavour of the period. Entertaining nonetheless.
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
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 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
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 ...more
Stephen Brooke
Jul 28, 2014 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
Paul Pellicci
Oct 29, 2009 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.
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 ...more
Sep 25, 2011 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
Scotty Cameron
Feb 16, 2015 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
Richard  Allen
Aug 18, 2015 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.
Aug 11, 2010 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.
Rasmus Nord
Apr 27, 2015 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.
Apr 07, 2010 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.
Mike Harper
Oct 15, 2013 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.
Oct 18, 2008 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.
Jun 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great chapters on da vinci, machiavelli & the medici's
Jul 09, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
College textbook for Renaissance history class.
An uneven collection of essays on representative figures of the period.
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