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At last I reasonably "get" what the Renaissance city-states and their key players were about. The whole tapestry finally makes sense. The narrative here swings effortlessly from personality nuances to (literally) Machiavellian calculations to colorful (from lovely to bloody and murky) scenes to the arts to religious thought. And the crossovers and collisions are beautifully detailed. This does not go deep into the mechanics of the Medici banking, but for that it does cite and lightly quote my favorite source: Raymond de Roover's writings. The narration is English-accented which for me seems to call to life the grace of the flowering Florentine Renaissance, maybe because of my introduction to all this via Sir Kenneth Clark's art history in the 1970s.
A favorite moment: the Tuscans, accustomed to mainly show-battles in which relatively few fatalities happened, and losers were allowed to gracefully withdraw for another show-battle another day, suddenly run into a new arrival: an invading army of brutal, methodical, trained killers from France. Or again, the absolute weirdness of the crowd in Florence in a "high noon" moment waiting in the town square with bated breath (and doubtless much more chaotic behaviors) for the monk, Savonarola, to produce a dramatic public miracle. Sometimes the hinge of history turns in just such a moment. There are many such here.
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What made the experience of listening to Death in Florence the most enjoyable?
Taking the specific subject of Florence between The Medici & Savonarola, Strathern writes a compelling tale of politics, religion and thought in the high renaissance.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful