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review 2017-04-27 23:57
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Modern Library Volume 3 of 3)
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume III (Modern Library) - Gian Battista Piranesi,Edward Gibbon

The finale volume of Modern Library’s three-volume reprint of Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire covers chapters 49 through 71 of the author’s vast magnum opus.  Beginning with the Iconoclast controversy in correlation with rise of the Vatican and Holy Roman Empire in the 8th century and ending with a description of the causes and progression of the decay of the city of Roman in the 15th century, Gibbon relates in detail the political, martial, social, and theological developments in both Europe and the Middle East ultimately led to the end of Byzantine Empire with the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans and the state of the city of Roman at time of the Roman Empire’s complete end.


The majority of the 22 chapters deal with the rise of Islam and the resultant political and martial effects that would ultimately determine the fate of the Byzantine Empire.  Although beginning with the Iconoclastic controversy that began the schism of the Christian church as the bishop of Rome rose to power in the West, Gibbon used those developments to launch into how Islam rose in Arabia then spread across not only areas once under Roman control but also their long-time Persian rivals in the aftermath of the reconquests of Heraclius.  While detailing the internal struggle within the Caliphate period, Gibbon reveals how Emperors attempted to combat this new faith and military force to increasing little effect has time went on.


The thorough retelling of the numerous political changes throughout Asia that affect the fortunes of the Byzantine Empire shifted the focus away from the ‘Roman’ world to locations as far east as China, but revolutions of people in these areas would play into the fortunes of Constantinople.  Also playing into fate of Byzantine was the barbarian Christian West that the Emperors called for aid not only from kings but the Pope as well.  Unfortunately the resulting Crusades and mercenary arms that went East would inflict a mortal wound to the Empire in 1204 thus beginning a centuries long death spiral that only lasted as long as it did because of internal revolutions with the growing Ottoman Empire until 1453.  This dreary recounting of the end of Byzantium is mirrored by Gibbon in his recounting of the history of the city of Rome itself throughout the Middle Ages until the fall of the New Rome in the East.


This finale volume of Gibbon’s life consuming work revealed the struggle of the Eastern Empire of Byzantium to continue against a succession of Islamic powers and its ultimate demise thus completing the fall of the Roman Empire.  Yet in retelling the eventual fall of Constantinople, Gibbon paints a huge picture for the reader about how events both near and far away from the Bosporus affected the fortunes for both good and ill of the New Rome.  And in recounting the history of the city of Rome throughout the Middle Ages, a reader sheds a tear with Gibbon about the loss of the monuments of both Republic and Empire due to the necessity or vanity of the people of Rome after for the fall of the Western Empire.

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review 2017-04-08 10:38
My Inner Vision of Italy: "The Brewer of Preston" by Andrea Camilleri
The Brewer of Preston: A Novel - Andrea Camilleri,Stephen Sartarelli

As with cinema, when I’m reading something like a Camilleri novel, it’s always possible to discuss its heightened reality. You concentrate life, as one does in theater. The proscenium arch for film is its syntax. Some thoughts arise, like when discussing reality. Imagine you ask someone who is talking about another person, "What are you doing?" They answer, "Well, I'm trying to tell you this and that, etc.” But you look at them and say, "No...What are you doing?" They get somewhat thrown, or agitated, or confused. Eventually lines are drawn. It's such a simple question. But it is really asking for you to really meditate or think about what this whole process of communication is really up to. What rules are being followed...what political system of exchange is really going on? What part of this is really a card shuffling act? What shifts of power are taking place in this exchange? What are you keeping me from noticing? What is being depended on? The question is simple, but the reality of the exchange is buried. There may not be words to describe the real chemistry of the exchange, and there may be issues about the decimation of personality inherent in the query.


If you're into Italian Literature, read on.

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review 2017-03-08 02:33
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Modern Library Volume 2 of 3)
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 2 - D.J. Boorstin,Gian Battista Piranesi,Edward Gibbon,John B. Bury

The second volume of Modern Library’s three-volume reprint of Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire covers chapters 27 through 48 of the author’s vast magnum opus.  Beginning with the reign of Gratian and ending with the reconquests of Heraclius in 628 A.D., Gibbons relates in detail the political, martial, social, and theological developments that saw the ultimate split of the Roman Empire, the fall of the West, and the continuance of Roman tradition in the East centered in Constantinople before glancing at the lives of the next 60 emperors of Byzantium over the next 600 years.


The deterioration of the Rome picks up with the reign of Gratian and his eventual overthrow leading to the unification of the Empire under Theodosius the Great before its finale split with the inheritance of his sons and then their successors over the next 50+ years.  Throughout the era of House of Theodosius, the various barbarian tribes made inroads into the Western Empire which included two sacks of Rome itself by the Visigoths and Vandals, as the long ineffectual reign of Honorius and his successors allowed the Empire to slip out of their fingers.  In the vacuum arose the genesis of future European states such as England, France, and Spain while Italy declined in population and political cohesion as the Pope began to fill not only a religious but political role.


The Eastern Emperors in Constantinople, unlike their family and colleagues in the West, were able to keep their domain intact through military force or bribes to turn away.  The bureaucratic framework established by Constantine and reformed by Theodosius was used to keep the Eastern Empire thriving against barbarian incursion and Persian invasions while creating a link to the Roman past even as the eternal city fell from its greatness.  Yet as the Eastern Emperors kept alive the Roman imperial tradition while continually orienting it more towards Greek cultural heritage, the internal conflicts of Christianity became a hindrance to social and imperial stability leading to rebellions of either a local or statewide nature or allowing foreign powers to invade.


This middle volume of Gibbon’s monumental work is divided in two, the first focusing on the fall of the Western Empire and the second on how the Eastern Empire survived through various struggles and for a brief time seemed on the verge of reestablishing the whole imperium.  Yet throughout, Gibbon weaves not only the history of Rome but also the events of nomadic peoples as far away at China, the theological controversies within Christianity, and the numerous other treads to create a daunting, yet compete look of how Rome fell but yet continued.

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review 2017-02-08 00:53
Tutto quello che non vedevo (Italian Edition) - Cindy Sutherland

Questo M/M era da parecchio nella mia TBR, ricordo che fin da subito la trama mi aveva colpito facendomi sperare in una storia intensa e ben sviluppata con molta cura nella descrizione degli eventi narrati e dell'introspezione dei protagonisti, ho quindi iniziato la lettura convinta di ritrovarmi di fronte un romanzo delicato e attento alla psicologia di Josh e Sam, senza troppi triangoli o colpi di scena, un romanzo più realistico e verosimile, capace di emozionare proprio grazie alla componente umana e invece... no...
Dopo un inizio interessante che mi aveva anche coinvolta e intrigato tutto si perde, metà romanzo è di fatto inutile e ci presenta personaggi che non rivedremo più per il corso della storia, che fanno una piccola comparsa di poche righe e che hanno la profondità di una pozzanghera e sono utili solo per smuovere un po' le acque in modo forzato e ridicolo, speravo di ritrovare momenti delicati, anche un pizzico drammatici, avrei voluto vedere piuttosto la sofferenza dei due giovani sconvolti da un evento inaspettato e drammatico, avrei voluto vedere anche un po' di cattiveria, con l'amico che per il dolore si rivolta inizialmente contro l'altro amico per aver rischiato la sua vita, avrei voluto vedere emozioni più umane e intense, personaggi che portano e porteranno il segno di quello che è successo un po' come succede nella vita reale, la storia di fatto essendo verosimile si prestava molto all'introspezione soprattutto se con POV alternati per comprendere fino in fondo il percorso di guarigione e soprattutto la nascita dell'amore tra i due ragazzi. C'era molta carne al fuoco e si poteva fare di più invece ci si riduce al clichè del ragazzo etero che per terribili sensi di colpa inizia a pensare "Non è che mi piace il mio migliore amico e sono diventato gay tutto d'un colpo?" questo pensiero nasce così, a caso, tra un intromissione del classico fidanzato stronzo del ferito e l'infermiera impicciona, così, tanto per, e il tutto si conclude ovviamente con l'happy ending dolcetto dove tutti si vogliono bene, l'amore trionfa essendo ovviamente entrambi innamorati, tutti hanno ottenuto quello che volevano e la vita è più colorata e luminosa che mai. Per metà libro ho provato noia, tanta noia, tanto che ho portato avanti la lettura per quasi un mese nonostante l'ebook fosse corto e tutto perchè mi limitavo a leggere una paginetta e spegnere l'e-reader per... noia! La parte centrale è noiosissima e sapendo fin da subito come finirà, che lui si riprenderà e scoppierà l'amore e bla bla bla, non sei neanche invogliato a continuare la lettura desiderando quasi di smettere di leggere e lasciare il tutto a metà. Solitamente io sono una amante dei libri lunghi di solito qualche paginetta in più in un romanzo non stona mai permettendo ulteriori approfondimenti nella storia in questo caso avrei invece preferito una novella di 100 pagine, il libro ha 175 pagine e posso assicurare che si potevano tagliare benissimo a 100 (forse anche meno) e di certo il romanzo ne avrebbe giovato risultando più scorrevole, meno pesante e soprattutto più interessante e senza tempi morti.
Insomma non mi è piaciuto, non mi sento di bocciarlo completamente avendo letto di peggio però almeno a mio avviso non vale più di 2 stelline e mezza (tanto che non mi sento neanche di arrotondare a 3). Una bella occasione purtroppo sprecata.

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review 2016-12-16 18:32
Di Lampedusa's The Leopard
The Leopard - Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

This is an excellent book. It was written in the 1950's but is set primarily during the Italian unification of the 1860's. It is about the end of the old Italian way of life, and in particular of the traditional Sicilian aristocracy. It would be tempting to claim that it is a eulogy for that way of life, but that's not really so. It takes a deeply empathetic look at that life warts and all. It's not interested in the new Italy, but remains focused on the old.

The characterization is marvellous and the book focuses on a few defined occasions and incidents. It has a wonderful power of observation and the language is smooth and flowing. It's also very subtle and clever.

A great book that more than lives up to its reputation.

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