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Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal…

Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History (edition 2012)

by Robert Hughes (Author)

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4691332,531 (3.66)5
Title:Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History
Authors:Robert Hughes (Author)
Info:Vintage (2012), Edition: Reprint, 512 pages
Collections:Your library

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Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History by Robert Hughes



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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
This book reviews the history, politics, art, and architecture of Rome from its founding to the present day. Although it is not the most readable book at times, it packs in some details about certain periods and events in the history of Rome that I have not seen elsewhere. ( )
  proflinton | Feb 14, 2017 |
When I first saw this book I grabbed it eagerly, expecting a great read, because of my passion for Ancient Rome and Hughes' reputation as an outstanding writer. What I got was a rambling discourse on Roman history, interspersed with references to various works of art. It was chaotic, disorganised, frequently turned back on itself and sometimes seemed simply to lose complete track of where it was supposed to be. There were also some shocking errors of fact (shocking to me certainly, with my PhD in ancient Rome studies, but noticeable I think to to anyone with an adequate knowledge of Roman history). The whole thing appeared to have been poorly tought out, poorly put together, and poorly proof-read. It was a major disappointment. I had hoped it would be a significant addition to my library.. Instead I read about half of it, returned it to my local library, and went hurriedly back to re-read The Shock of the New to remind myself how great a writer Hughes actually was. ( )
  drmaf | Sep 16, 2013 |
Reading Robert Hughes’ final book is a bit like contemporary Rome itself: majestic, impressive, memorable, and cringeworthy by turns. One quality of Rome that Hughes does not share, however, is confusion. Reading Hughes is always illuminating, even when I strenuously disagree.

I kept a few notes as I read the book, and I found that they filled up with lists of paintings, sculptures and buildings that I would hope to see on a future visit (now illuminated with Hughes’ insights); memorable quotes that I wanted to be able to refer back to (e.g. in comparison to Catholicism “Christian fundamentalists have no sacred art to show, no writing of aesthetic significance, and little architecture beyond drive-in megachurches”); and points on which I disagree or was even offended (e.g. Bernini’s Pluto and Persephone is “an extremely sexy sculpture, and should be, since its subject is a rape”).

I will say that as much as I might disagree with him on certain points, I respect the fact that Hughes had done his homework before he wrote. On every point of historical debate he clearly familiarized himself with the main arguments, and has generally made a definitive judgment about where he stands. He is not simply coasting on time spent in the city. The Newsweek pull-quote in the edition I bought describes his brain as a “hard-structured, brightly lit, and capacious expanse”—that pretty much nails it.

I started reading this book shortly before my first trip to Rome, and I will say that, vivid as it is, I did find myself much more engaged by the remainder of the book after I returned—something about being able to picture relative locations and dimensions made the book really come to life for me. I hope to return to Rome someday, and before I do I believe I will return to this book. ( )
  jrcovey | Jul 27, 2013 |
Here's a vigorously positive NYT review. Anybody read this Robert Hughes guy? He wrote "The Fatal Shore," about the founding of Australia?
  AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
This is a sweeping, searing history of the Eternal City, giving a grand tour of the city, immersed in history.

This history is primarily focused on the art and culture of the city, offering cutting remarks on the political side of things. With such eminent leaders as Berlusconi, who could blame him for being dismissive?

The only flaw I could notice was that the book needed even more pictures - but that isn't so bad - Google the relevant art works and you should follow Hughes' whirlwind tour of the city just fine.

The book ends with a warning on cultural decay and overcrowding of the city, but there is the hope that this city will somehow survive, shambling onwards, despite everything. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
"Essential for anyone interested in Roman civilization, European history, or armchair travel."
added by Christa_Josh | editLibrary Journal, Margaret Heller (Oct 15, 2011)
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Read throughchapter 4, till "Medieval Rome and Avignon," page 165
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A comprehensive history of Rome covers the city's evolution from the Roman empire through the early years of Christianity to the Renaissance and the modern era, addressing topics from government and architecture to its influence on culture and politics.… (more)

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