A Watery Look at the World

City of Fortune: How Venice Won and Lost a Naval Empire by Roger Crowley (2011. Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-24595-6)

Having traveled to Venice with friends (at the end of a 12 day Mediterranean cruise) and spent three days taking it all in, I wish I’d read this book before making the trip. While Crowley’s primary emphasis is chronicling-sometimes in agonizingly lush detail that slows the narrative, the military history of an enigmatic republic-he weaves within that storyline enough politics, culture, art, and science to flesh out Venice’s rise and fall as an Adriatic naval power to keep things well-rounded.

Written in a largely crisp and sequential style, the author carefully reconstructs the history of Italy’s most magical and independent city-state from the Crusades to the fall of Constantinople and beyond. Along the way, we are treated to character studies of scoundrels, leaders, admirals, artisans, traitors, and thieves that enrich the overall story arc and strengthen the narrative.

A fine piece of historical writing.

4 stars out of 5


About Mark

I'm a reformed lawyer and author.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.