venice

The book “Venice: A New History” is unique in the sense that the author, Thomas Madden, does something no other has done in the past three decades. In the book, Madden writes as a full-portrait view of the city. Madden uses old buried material, and newly translated articles to spell out the entire Venice, ranging from its origins, to the Renaissance, to the modern city that recognize more.Although the title is a play on words since the history cannot be new, Madden details the real history, and brings many examples. His method of writing leaves the reader with an open eye for the next chapter of the book, and Venice’s story. The world is filled with interesting cities representing different moments and pieces of history, but Madden details the different attributes of Venice’s achievements: its becoming of an economic powerhouse and birthplace of capitalism, the development of its navy, its popularization of opera, and other features. He sets these in the context of the rise and fall of the Byzantine Empire, the numerous waves of Crusades to the Holy Land, and the Turkish sultans. When visiting Venice, or La Serenissimo as it was known, tourists are often impressed by its beauty and are struck speechless; however, others have a different reaction. The library of literature inspired by the city and its numerous amount of masterpieces have already been built, and are already immense over 130 years ago, when Henry James wrote his essay called “Venice.” “It is a great pleasure to write the word,” James began, “but I am not sure there is not a certain impudence in pretending to add anything to it.”La Serenissimo fits Venice perfectly, since it hoped to be as serene as its name. Venice avoided conflict, longed for peace, and was even content and happy with each other.Madden details it all, and makes clear how important Venice was to Europe, even when out of sync. The first Venetians were actually refugees and in attempt to evade the Roman Empire, they settled themselves in the middle of a lagoon where the invaders could not get to them. This is how their empire commenced: from a modest started. Built on trade via the waters, the Republic of St. Mark extended its capabilities across the Mediterranean Sea.With a cheerful tone, Madden leaves nothing out, and ridicules and refutes unconfirmed stories and myths about Venetian immorality, and brushes aside ugly rumors about greedy, and unethical merchants. When a non-ugly, or colorful, character pops up (Marco Polo, Casanova), he makes the most of it in his quick, no-nonsense piece. Madden was also careful not to spend too much time on any particular point, and often skipped forward: “The twists and turns of this long and complex war need not detain us here; suffice it to say that it was a typically Italian affair, full of treachery, violence and shifting allegiances.” This sounds the same from every war since the First Crusade. 

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I'm Nicholas!

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