The Shortest History of Italy

3,000 Years from the Romans to the Renaissance to a Modern Republic - A Retelling for Our Times

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Pub Date Apr 16 2024 | Archive Date Apr 15 2024

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The calendar. The Senate. The university. The piano, the heliocentric model, and the pizzeria. It’s hard to imagine a world without Italian influence—and easy to assume that inventions like these could only come from a strong, stable peninsula, sure of its place in the world. In this breakneck history, bestselling author Ross King dismantles this assumption, uncovering the story of a land rife with inner uncertainty even as its influence spread.  

As the Italian tale unfolds, prosperity and power fluctuate like the elevation in the Dolomites. If Rome’s seven hills could talk, they might speak of the glorious time of Trajan—or bemoan the era of conquest and the Bubonic Plague that decimated Rome’s population. Episodes of wealth like the First Triumvirate and the time of the Medicis are given fresh life alongside descriptions of the Middle Ages, the early days of Venice, the invasion of Napoleon, and the long struggle for unification.  

Highlighting key events and personalities, King paints a vibrant portrait of a country whose political and cultural legacies enrich our lives today. 

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ISBN 9781891011450
PRICE $16.95 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

I loved this book. I liked the non-flowery writing style with its clarity and conversational tone. Considering the time span and magnitude of the subject matter, there is an astonishing depth of information in what is actually a relatively concise book. The maps and visuals helped with this. Ross King opted to explain why things happened as opposed to just offering a collection of dates, places, and names. Obviously King couldn’t go into a lot of details, but I feel like he covered all the major ones. The book is fast-paced and impossible to put down, yet it doesn’t feel rushed. This is a great book for anyone interested in the history of Italy. Thank you to Netgalley and The Experiment for the advance reader copy.

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Back before the Internet in the pre-history of time, when you had to write a book report on a book you didn’t read, you either bought a copy of a report from a (smart) friend, or found a “Cliff’s Notes” copy. This was literally a pamphlet, usually less than twenty four pages. You couldn’t bring them to school because they were published with a black stripes and bright yellow patches.

So why the history lesson? There is now a series of books published by “The Experiment LLC” There are currently fifteen books in the series which are all non-fiction histories. I’ve read more than one and you will find that they handle their subjects, straight forward without a lot of flowery language. They save a fortune by leaving out the adjectives.

The information is clear and concise and having been an History Major, they didn’t leave anything important out of the book (two hundred seventy two pages). The book starts with the founding of Rome and then through the Roman Empire and right through to today. I found it short and satisfying.

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Spanning millennia, this book encapsulates Italy’s storied past and showcases its extraordinary global influence. Caesar and Augustus. Da Vinci and Michelangelo. The book unveils the essence of a country whose legacy has shaped civilizations and inspired masterpieces.

This easy-to-read book filled in a lot of blanks for me. I would have preferred less detail about ancient Rome, on which much has already be written, to make more space for other cultures or time periods. Obviously, much has to be left out to produce a sweeping history like this. The sections following the fall of Rome were more interesting to me.

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.

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