Venice: Lion City: The Religion of Empire

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Simon & Schuster, 2001 - Art - 415 pages
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Garry Wills's "Venice: Lion City" is a tour de force -- a rich, colorful, and provocative history of the world's most fascinating city in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when it was at the peak of its glory. This was not the city of decadence, carnival, and nostalgia familiar to us from later centuries. It was a ruthless imperial city, with a shrewd commercial base, like ancient Athens, which it resembles in its combination of art and sea empire. The structure of Venetian society was based on its distinctive practice of religion: Venice elected its priests, defied the authority of papal Rome, and organized its liturgy around a lay leader (the doge).

"Venice: Lion City" presents a new way of relating the history of the city through its art and, in turn, illuminates the art through the city's history. In their culture, their governing structures, and their social life, the Venetians themselves speak to us with extraordinary immediacy, whether at work, warfare, prayer, or acting out their victories, celebrations, and petitions in the colorful festivals that punctuated the year.

"Venice: Lion City" is illustrated with more than 130 works of art, 30 in full color. Garry Wills gives us a unique view of Venice's rulers, merchants, clerics, and laborers, its Jews, and its women as they created a city that is the greatest art museum in the world, a city that continues to lure an endless stream of visitors.

Like Simon Schama's "The Embarrassment of Riches," on the Dutch culture in the Golden Age, "Venice: Lion City" will take its place as a classic work of history and criticism.

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VENICE: LION CITY: The Religion of Empire

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Prolific classicist Wills (Saint Augustine's Childhood, above, etc.) examines the politics, art, and religion of Renaissance Venice to show how the sea empire was a crowning achievement of ... Read full review

Venice: lion city: the religion of empire

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Venice has inspired both Wills (St. Augustine) and Rosand (Painting in Sixteenth Century Venice) to write remarkably laudatory works on the artistic legacy generated by the Renaissance mythmakers and ... Read full review

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About the author (2001)

Garry Wills is the author of twenty-one books, including the bestseller Lincoln at Gettysburg (winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award), John Wayne's America, Certain Trumpets, Under God, and A Necessary Evil. A frequent contributor to many national publications, including The New York Times Magazine and The New York Review of Books, he is also an adjunct professor of history at Northwestern University and lives in Evanston, Illinois.

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