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Rome: Eternal City

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  303 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Why does Rome continue to exert a hold on our imagination? How did the "Caput mundi" come to play such a critical role in the development of Western civilization?

Ferdinand Addis addresses these questions by tracing the history of the "Eternal City" told through the dramatic key moments in its history: from the mythic founding of Rome in 753 BC, via such landmarks as the mu
Paperback, 656 pages
Published September 13th 2019 by Head of Zeus - GB (first published September 6th 2018)
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Solid. Just solid. Starting from Kingdom years and ending in the 20th Century, this history of Rome spans enough time to make you dizzy... yet never manages to make you dizzy anyway. Flowing writing, uses archival and historical material in a way that really connects to the reader. I would recommend this to any Roman history buff.
Antonio Nunez
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is the third in my “cities” series that already includes New York (Gotham by Edwin Burrows and Mike Wallace and Greater Gotham by Mike Wallace) and Paris (the Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne). It is a very enjoyable romp through nearly three thousand years of Roman history, covering all the main episodes: the foundation of the city, the Carthaginian wars, the civil wars, Caesar, Augustus, Nero, Commodus, the barbarian invasions, the reconquest by Belisarius on behalf of Justinian ...more
Philip Koslow
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"This book is, in a sense, a history of an imagined city, from the myth of Romulus to the fantastical world of Fellini's cinema......(page 589)." A direct quote from this remarkable book. Beautifully crafted by an expert wordsmith with the bona fides to speak as an imminent historian, this book reads equally as a novel, magazine subscription series or a general survey of the "Eternal" city. Familiar names abound throughout 600 pages that beckon the reader to return to savor prose unlike most aca ...more
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Addis writes history for a general audience in just the way it should be done. His narrative is highly engaging. His writing is accessible without being over-simplified, and, like Gibbon in the eighteenth century, a true literary pleasure to read.

This is a history of the city of Rome, and, in some sense (as the author writes near the end of the book), a history of a city that never existed. It is a history of what Rome has meant to various people throughout the ages, as much as a history of the
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best book this year for me. Just about perfect. And, I think, a new classic book on Rome.

I read this slowly throughout the year, starting in Rome itself. Every chapter is a delight.
John Isles
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are many histories of Rome, and for me there is no end to reading them, because generally they have much that is new to me. This one spans the millennia from the city's legendary foundation by Romulus to the era of Fellini's "La Dolce Vita," but not continuously; it selects 22 episodes to highlight, and the intervening years are lightly sketched in. When I was well into the book, I found that my printed copy was defective, missing pages 531-570, but I was able to read that part in the Kind ...more
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was taught once to read the book the author has written and not look for the book you expect. I caught myself not following this advice a few times as I read Ferdinand Addis' The Eternal City: A History of Rome. I picked this book up looking for a history of the city, the walls, the buildings, the visceral sensations of the streets of Rome and the shadows of the ancient alleyways. What Addis provides here is a history "in" Rome, and towards that goal, he has accomplished much. This is a though ...more
Angus Cameron
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author tackles the complex task of delivering thousands of years of history (and boy does this city have some history!) by breaking it up into accessible vignettes stretching from Rome's foundation up to the 20th century. I found this approach to work extremely well, as I never felt bogged down by the sheer weight of the city's history. This was also partly due to the author's vivacious and quirky writing style, which captured perfectly the enthusiasm he clearly has for his subject.

All in al
Paul Gorman
Very Disappointing

I had hoped for an interesting and informative book about the history of Rome, this is neither. I found it to be a mishmash of fables, myths and uncertain claims and far too long. It meanders through the centuries spending far too long on certain individuals who have little or nothing to do with Rome's history, Byron and Shelly for example.
This book will, I believe, also upset Christians as the author portrays the Christian faith as the root of all the world's failings, and its
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very concentrated summary of this beautiful city. I had the good luck of reading it while in Rome and it was an amazing experience. Ghosts and buildings springing up from a source so intangible as the past but still so present and reachable in Rome.
I like how imaginative the Addis was to capture the reader every single chapter. Still, this doesn’t mean that he strayed away from facts and that is what I liked the most.
Definitely an enjoyable read if you want to walk side by side with history
Blythe Gifford
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
History told through stories. The perfect introduction to nearly 3000 years of Roman history. Only the interesting parts, put in context. Nearly 600 pages, I read in preparation for a trip to Rome and it is perfect for that. (Never tries to lead you through every name and date.)

It does clearly show how over and over throughout history, bad leaders have made bad decisions that ended up destroying everything, even their own power.

It took me about eight months to read, but chapters (stories) are se
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An educational and well-organized history of various people and events in the city's history. The tone is informal, not stuffy, and Addis ranges in his portrayals from Caesars to poets to pilgrims over a span of more than 2,000 years. So it is more of a 'highlights of Roman history' than a thorough textbook, but that works well given the vast sweep of time involved (from Rome's founding in 700 BC to 20th century figures like Mussolini and Fellini). His style is modern and analytical, and delves ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When considering the time line covered in this book it is remarkable that it was not double in length ! I have been fascinated by Rome since I was young and the city is my favourite city in the world. Its history just keeps giving and Addis has certainly done that with this auspicious book...articulate and written so well it is novel like not a mere reference book.
David Birse
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Something for everyone

This book on Rome has something for everyone, from antiquity to La Dolce Vita. When I was studying history at Uni I was forced to study European religious education around the time of Luther and it was incredibly boring. Reading about from Addis is incredibly interesting. Wish he was my professor then. Glad I bought this.
Dustin Jones
Dec 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book. Spans the history of Rome from the mythical foundation by Romulus up until the 1950’s. Manages to do this without getting bogged down in dates and minute details like I’ve encountered with many historical books, and it’s able to do that largely by keeping the human aspect in the stories by using writers from that time. Very, very good.
Sirin Nabokov
Feb 21, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-written narrative history of Rome. As usual, if comprehensive it must contain the near oresent, which it does. However it is a bit thin as there’s no mention of the Mafia, Camorra and N’drangheta. Also no mention if Berlusconi? Nothing about the terrirust activity of the 70’s? Odd imissuins in an otherwise mostly fine work.
Mrs. Moira McGeough
Addis writes in an easy to read, engaging style so you are carried along through vast swathes of history. Having said that there was something unsatisfying about the book. It covered everything from the myths and legends about Rome's early foundations to the cinema constructs of the modern era yet told you little about any of them. ...more
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Time has so much history that it would seem impossible to condense it and still give it the treatment it deserves.
Addis does this - while he briefly touches on some things and expands on others, even skipping large chunks of time - you don't feel deprived of history.
I absolutely loved it
Mr Alister Cryan
All the history you never learnt at school...

Ferdinand Addis's history of Rome is a snapshot of various key moments in Roman history which he brings into sharper focus than the history lessons I remember from school. Quite brilliant and fascinating...
ray crump
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rome uncovered.

This book has given me so much information into the history of what form me has always been a city of mystery and "romance". Not always an easy read, nevertheless one I was compelled to finish. Rome will never be quite the same again!
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rome to know

Interesting read, something for people who wants to find out bit more about Rome, but from little bit different point of view. Read it to find out who made and changed Rome into city we see today.
Viktor G
Jan 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well written and accessible historical outline of the city Rome, starting from the founding myth of Romulus and Remus and ending with Italian cinema. Would recommend to anyone interested in Rome’s history.
Margaret Heller
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read for Library Journal.
Denis Thorn
Easy to read but lacked the rigour and continuity of a real history
Jonathan Beckett
Fabulous book

I thought this was a fascinating look at different periods in the life of a fascinating city highly recommend to anyone with an interest in Rome
Richard Gault
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An astonishing and majestic achievement.
Aug 13, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: junk
A book for those who don't know how to use Google from someone who does know how to use Wikipedia. ...more
Oct 12, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Only read this as I was waiting for another book to be available at my library. Got hooked into it!
Menty Yu
Jan 16, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read to know Rome for the first time
Melissa  Weeks
Mar 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this, a really good and clear trip down Roman History Lane. Dispelling a few myths along the way
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