The Golden Age of the Spanish Empire would establish five centuries of Western supremacy across the globe and usher in an era of transatlantic exploration that eventually gave rise to the modern world. It was a time of discovery and adventure, of great political and social change - it was a time when Spain learned to rule the world.
Assembling a spectacular cast of legendary characters like the Duke of Alba, El Greco, Miguel de Cervantes, and Diego Velázquez, Robert Goodwin brings the Spanish Golden Age to life with the vivid clarity and gripping narrative of an epic novel. From scholars and playwrights, to poets and soldiers, Goodwin is in complete command of the history of this tumultuous and exciting period. But the superstars alone will not tell the whole tale - Goodwin delves deep to find previously unrecorded sources and accounts of how Spain's Golden Age would unfold, and ultimately, unravel.
Spain is a sweeping and revealing portrait of Spain at the height of its power and a world at the dawn of the modern age.
©2015 Robert Goodwin (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
Definitely! Robert Goodwin cleverly weaves together descriptions of the main historical characters & landmark events of Spain's Golden Age with wonderful insights into the staggeringly great art and literature of the period.
Miguel de Cervantes who, as well as writing the first modern novel (Don Quixote) was a tax collector, prisoner of the moors, soldier and courtier. He's witty, ironic, brave and evidently not entirely to be trusted.
Robert Goodwin gives a precis of Don Quixote, read delightfully by Jeremy Clyde. (Thank God for a decent narrator.)
Possibly a bit too long for one session, but it was engaging stuff.
Now I want to read more about Garcy Lasso and the other poets dicussed in the first part of the book.
This is a perplexing book to review. The author states in the introduction that it will be a less formal history than is perhaps the norm, and in some ways this is the book's great strength. However, its gossipy tone in some sections seems to have drawn the narrator into feeling that an arch voice and delivery is always appropriate, and I'm not sure I agree. For example, I have been left with an image of Garci Lasso de la Vega as a kind of Kenneth Williams clone in Carry on Conquistador, and I'm not sure that does the greatest poet of his age justice. In fairness, the narrator does get on with his task, which is always to be admired, and has a fine, confiding tone. There are lots of terrific stories and vignettes which really help to illuminate the better known historical themes, and these are the book's greatest joys. There's also some fine analysis of broad political and cultural strands in Spanish and European society which would stand examination in much more august company. However, there are also significant longueurs which even the chatty narration can't cover. The discussion of Don Quixote feels as long as the novel itself, and for all but the most devoted literary scholar must be really taxing. Certain passages discussing the specifics of painting and sculpture fall into the same trap. Nonetheless, I'm glad I listened to it, I enjoyed the vast majority of it, and I laughed and learned a great deal from the experience. If I knew the Spanish for curate's egg, I'd quote it here.
Inveterate romantic and lover of 19th Century (and earlier) European literature with an obsession for Dostoyevsky!
This really is a fabulous book. Quite detailed and may perhaps be a harder listen if you're a casual listener but, speaking personally and as someone who is obsessed with Early Modern English and Scottish history but knows shamefully little about other European countries during this period, I found it riveting and very engagingly written. Informative but not preachy, humorous without the sarcasm of Simon Sharma, never dull and rarely tedious.
I found him excellent. There may well be odd mispronunciation shut I didn't really notice them. He understands what he is reading and narrates with both intelligence and sense.
Too long for that but it's certainly a book I will listen to more than once.
Just all round great book!
I don't know since I've only listened to it
So much but specially all related to Cervantes and his work, the writer's passion for El Quijote shines through
I think Juliet's comment about the narrator are not fair. So what if some words are mispronounced? If it doesn't worry me who happen to be Spanish it should not be of too much concern for others. What counts is the feeling he puts and how very entertaining he makes listening to it.
No. Not based on this one
Actually write about the history of Spain. This is just and endless list of art and writers and except for their names you wouldn't even know it was about Spain!!!
Yeah can't blame the narrator for the text he's given
Do not waste your time this has to be the worst book I have ever purchased
Very interesting book but, oh my goodness, how how is it possible that Audible would sanction such a reading? Almost every Spanish name or word was mispronounced. Excruciating. I kept going because I am fascinated by Spain but no, I cannot recommend this narrator.
loved it! a insight into a very interesting and powerful narrative of the spainish empire.
Love audioboooks! On the train, at the gym, walking to the shops, I listen for many hours every week.
Beautifully read, this is a wonderfully constructed historical and cultural tour of Spain, and the fortunes Spanish Hapsburg's, spanning about 2 centuries or so.
I simply loved it.
The authors fascination shines through, and the wonderful descriptions had me continually googling the things covered in each chapter.
A cast of true characters fill every chapter: Noble and romantic, some vicious, some calculating; the kind, the clever, the witty and the humorous...
Showcased are an incredible range of prominent historical figures. Linking decades smoothly together, he delves into their lives in exquisitely revealing glimpses. It covers of art, artists, politics, history, poets, literature, economics, war, monarchy, popes, playwrights, explorers, priests and nuns, conquistadors and jealous kings.
I purchased it on a whim, because I didn't know anything about Spanish history. I'm so pleased I did! I've googled the people in each chapter, looked at the sculptures and paintings referenced within. pored over ancient maps to follow the story as it unfolds.
It is a work of immense depth, by an author who can make you feel such empathy with each character in history, the good and the wicked. I found myself compelled to buy Cervantes Don Quixote as a result of the historical context I gained from this audio book!
The narration is beautifully done also. possibly my favourite purchase on Audible, and I have quite a library built up!
Five big stars. Thank you to author and narrator!
I admit I started to skip sections of this book once the second section began, as I'm not that interested in art, let alone the artists themselves. The first section though was quite interesting.
Quite reasonably the author wishes to resent a more nuanced picture than the normal political/military/economic history. I started to listen to it some time ago but abandoned it because of the emphasis on rather obscure (to an English reader) literary characters. I then read a very fulsome review in one of the Sunday papers & decided to try again. The best example of the over emphasis on the history of Spanish literature during the period in question is that the author includes an extremely lengthy (well over an hour) précis of Don Quixote. He had already discussed at length the story of Cervantes himself & the place of the book in the literary history of western Europe. He did not need to add a reprise of a C16 novel which to be honest few outside the literati inner circle would wish to read. The author's view of Cervantes seems to amount to uncritical adulation. He has gone too far in abandoning the conventional linear, chronological structure of a history book. Perhaps a bold idea but flawed in execution. The performance however is admirable including to my ear some difficult Spanish names and terms.
"Colorful book but poor performer"
Depends on the book.
The performer mispronounced many Spanish names, making it obvious that he knows nothing about Spanish history. That only made it harder to follow the complex narrative.
"Spain" highlights the fundamental limitations of this medium. The narrative was too complex, and too filled with unfamiliar names -- including many that were mangled by the narrator -- to follow in this format. This book looks a lot better in print, and is far more comprehensible. Audible format works well only when there are relatively few characters, and the names are not butchered by the narrator.
"Dry. but if you're into that sort of thing . . ."
This is an interesting history that draws from several great sources. Great history. I say it is dry, but that is probably only if you're not into reading/listening to history.
The anecdotal history. For example, the description of the legal system and the case between Cervantes and Mendoza.
I wouldn't find time to read this book. The narration keeps me engaged.
"Great Cultural HIstory of Spain"
This is a great history of Spain if you are interested in culture and the arts. For someone like me who doesn't have a lot of background knowledge of Spain's Golden Era I could get turned around a bit at times, but it's nothing that Wikipedia and/or re-reading certain sections couldn't help resolve. Names and places can always be confusing in any history book unless you already have a background in it. I enjoyed this book because it was very entertaining, aside from some meandering here and there, and that is something many history books find hard to achieve.
I don't usually write reviews, but I thought I would come to the defense of Jeremy Clyde's reading of Spain. His Spanish pronunciation is admittedly not the best but I'm glad I went ahead and got this. I find his tone and reading perfect for the book, particularly the dialog parts.
Goodwin really likes Spain. I mean, he really, really likes Spain! I know nearly all histories are biased to one degree or another, but this is really very biased. Early in the work we hear of the humanists in North America at length and in comparison to one another, yet he doesn't seem to get into why the need for humanism, or why there were only 3 or 4. The passing view of the conquistadors given this book is far more honorable swashbuckling adventurer than perhaps they deserved. Let's just say Howard Zinn would disagree with the telling, as did I. We get to hear about a handful of people bemoaning the practice of slavery, without Goodwin getting into the fact that the Spanish held the slaves, exterminated whole peoples, etc., all in the studied time period. It really was as if that part didn't happen. Anyway, I don't mind the artistic history, as the art and culture of an era is important, especially so when the culture birthed Cervantes, but the absurd amount of pro-Spain rah-rah-rah in this book makes it a difficult read, in my humble opinion.
"Rubbish Historical Work, Rubbish"
The author does not cover economics, mercantilism, colonial administration, lepanto, piracy, Asia trade, or 30-years-war with any detail.
However, you get excruciating detail on Don Quixote and various paintings. Ultimately, you have a book that is not that interesting, covers too much trivia, and has no structure.
Literally, it would be like writing a history of the 20th century USA and dedicating 1/4 the book to Andy Warhol, 1/4 to Hollywood, 1/4 to Kennedy's sex life, and (oh yeah) the USA fought a couple of World Wars.
The narrator is good, book is rubbish
"An Important Period"
This is an in-depth examination of 16th and early 16th century Spain. The book covers everything from politics and military history to economics and art and literature. A must "read" for any student of Spanish history.
"Spanish names butchered"
Godwin's book is excellent. It's a great summary of Spanish history and culture in its Golden Age.
Mispronuniciations Inaccurate Distracting
Spain When It Ruled the World
Having only heard Spain's history through the prism of wars with England and the Netherlands, and vignettes about Columbus, this was a good walk through almost two centuries of Spanish history.
Leaves me wanting to know more, and that is a compliment.
"Excellent narration in a very comprehensive work"
Listenteing to this book has made it fascinating to follow a very important period of history in Spain (and Europe)
I especially like the fact that the author ties in literature, history, religion, arquitecture, art, paintings, his description are wonderful and this hollistica approach helps you understand how people thought and lived.
i lo¡ike his entonation, only he should have made an effort to leran how to pronounce some of the names in sapnish, he makes some of them unrecognizable and some times even dsilly.
i am enjoying this book and making several people read it too
"Ruined by irrelevant digressions on architecture"
Anyone who is primarily interested in art and architecture.
The fact that he kept interrupting it to talk about art and architecture, often at times and in ways that contributed nothing to his broader discussion.
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