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Summary

An engrossing volume on the Italian Renaissance by Pulitzer Prize - winning historian Will Durant

The fifth volume of Durant's acclaimed Story of Civilization,The Renaissance chronicles the history of Italy from1304 to 1576. In this masterful work, listeners will encounter

  • the poets Petrarch and Boccaccio, the fathers ofthe Renaissance;
  • the paintings, sculptures, and architecture ofMilan, Florence, and Venice;
  • the life and accomplishments of Leonardo DaVinci;
  • the Catholic church and the popes of Avignon and Rome;
  • the politicians and philosophers of Italy,including the Borgia family, Julius II, and Machiavelli;
  • the Italian Wars, the conflicts with France, and the country's decline.
©2014 Will Durant (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc

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Only Italy

This is a history of Renaissance Italy. Please note Italy. This is one of my issues. It would have been better to split the book and provide wider context. That said it is marvellously full of information although this can lead to a bit overload especially the Italian Wars. Similarly many many works of art, sculpture and architecture are discussed. This can be a bit tricky and I found myself hitting the pause button to search for them online. I recommend that you do this otherwise the art history parts are a little meaningless. Overall highly educational but needs concentration and focus

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Highly recommended

Great audiobook, both in terms of content and in terms of performance. Would recommend to anyone interested in the period. An excellent overview.

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Profile Image for Kevin Crumpton
  • Kevin Crumpton
  • 23-01-16

Worth every minute

I bought this book before my 3rd trip to Italy. I honestly thought I'd only listen to some of it. I listened to the entire 35 hours and learned more than I've learned from any book since college. I listened to many chapters twice so I could retain the information or synthesize what I was learning with what I already knew. The reader is excellent and the writing is thoughtful, analytical but also surprisingly entertaining. Anyone who loves history and wants to get a grand overview of this remarkable time in history should read this book.

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  • Richard
  • 25-04-15

Panoramic View of the Italian Renaissance

This installment reflects the usual qualities of this series: Durant's lucid, witty and colorful prose style; his insightful (and sometimes quirky) opinions; his history in the round approach which blends art, religion, politics, literature, etc. to shine light on each other.

The main potential drawback of this volume is that a period intensely visual is being listened to as an audiobook. Even the book had only a small selection of the works discussed displayed in black and white photos of limited resolution. However, this defect is easily remedied nowadays by searching online for the artworks in question.

I would never say that the Durants' work should be the last word on any period. But when I read other more current volumes, it is always with far more understanding because of my exposure to the their Story of Civilization.

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  • Doris
  • 30-07-19

NOT the history of the Renaissance!

I've been gradually (over decades) working my way through Durant's History of Civilization. They can be tedious, but they have always been the most complete history of the period available. Not this one. I was expecting an explanation of how the Middle Ages morphed into the Renaissance, what was happening in all of Europe, how the economy changed, etc. I'm 18 hours into the book, and the only topic in those 18 hours has been Italian art. That's it. Every artist you'v ever heard of, many that you haven't, who they slept with, who they painted/sculped, where they lived, what they ate, how they amused themselves, how well they got along with one another. Nothing about the economy, the power brokers, the influences, the new weapons of war....just art. Maybe the second half of the book gets into that, but so far, nothing. I do have to give a huzzah to the narrator. He could make stone tablets sound exciting. Thirty-seven hours is a long time to listen to one voice. If you have to do it, this is the voice to listen to. He's terrific.

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  • Michael
  • 05-01-15

Wonderful Review of Renaissance Italy

This is the fifth book of Durant’s excellent History of Civilization series.
See my review of the first volume for comments on the series as a whole.
This volume does not cover all of, or only, the Renaissance, but instead covers Italy from 1304-1576 AD. Not to worry, Volume VI covers the same period in the rest of Europe. Durant presents an integrated history, which does not focus on dates, but upon the themes of history and the totality of each period including the daily life, the arts, the crafts, the politics and the ideas. This volume covers a few well known artists and popes and other characters of the Italian Renaissance, but also much more. After a brief framing of the period, the history of each major city or region is covered along with the art and artists, politics and leaders, and people and life, then each pope of the period is covered along with the politics and art of their pontificate. Finally the transition between the Renaissance and the reformation is described.

I liked this series quite a bit, and would not recommend skipping this volume. This is not the best of the series, but is interesting never the less. I had read and listened to this volume before, yet I still learned things I had forgotten or did not previously absorb, and more importantly, I enjoyed every minute of the 37 hours.

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  • Andreas
  • 07-07-15

History.

I am running out of ways to praise this series of books. I learned a lot from this book as I did with the ones before it.

If you like history, you should at least try this series.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-02-19

Outdated.

From a early 1940s perspective, this needs an update that includes nthe last 75 years of new research.

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  • Andrew
  • 28-01-18

Fantastic!

I am amazed at the amount of information Will Durant beautifully transmits in this volume. Nearly three centuries of Italian history is wonderfully described with the transformation of art through painting and sculpture, almost always requested by the heads of the Roman Catholic church! And the political masterminding of this era is amazing. Grover Gardner did a wonderful job with this narration, speaking in other languages (and reciting interpretations as the book gives), with amazing clarity. I can't wait to read his next narrative in this volume!

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  • DavidT
  • 11-11-20

well written well read

it is very long but the amount of detail is part of allure of Durant's books. he can always be counted on for a humorous turn of phrase while still giving you the history as best as he knew it at the time

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  • Lindsey D Boozer
  • 17-04-20

Extradorinay In Every Way, A Must Listen Book

Grover Gardener is now, and has been, my favorite reader of all audio books, and I have listened to perhaps 60 audio books in the last 6 years, if not more. He can pronounce any Italian and French or Spanish words, so well, I wouldn't want to try reading the print version. He makes it so much easier by reading it flawlessly. But on top of being well read, this is my favorite audio book, I think ... although I have many favorites. This one leaps ahead in both organization, research, and story line, to put a period of the world's history into perfect perspective. There is no better history writer than Will Durant who is a master of the English language and uses such thoughtful expressions and has such a world-class perspective on events and people. I am also thrilled it is now on Audible, as I have waited for this, I first listened to it on worn out cassette tapes purchased second hand from libraries, Much applause to Audible for bringing this great book to the world in a very accessible format.

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  • Dan Greene
  • 07-01-20

Grover Gardner narrates beautifully

The Story Of Civilization is a wonderful work by the Durants and Grover Gardner's reading of it is an achievement. I only wish Audible would work to get the rest of the volumes with his narration as well. currently Audible only has a bout four of the volumes narrated by him while the others are done by readers much less suited to the majesty of the work.