Venice, Paperback
3 out of 5 (2 ratings)


In this magnificent vision of Venice, Peter Ackroyd turns his unparalleled skill at evoking place from London and the River Thames, to Italy and the city of myth, mystery and beauty.

He leads us through the history of the city, from the first refugees arriving in the mists of the lagoon in the fourth century to the rise of a great mercantile state and a trading empire, the wars against Napoleon and the tourist invasions of today.

There are wars and sieges, scandals and seductions, fountains playing in deserted squares and crowds thronging the markets. And there is a dark undertone too, of shadowy corners and dead ends, prisons and punishment.

We could have no better guide to this most exceptional of cities - reading Ackroyd's Venice is, in itself, a glorious journey and the perfect holiday.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 512 pages, Illustrations (some col.), maps (some col.)
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Biography: general
  • ISBN: 9780099422563



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Well what a disappointment. I'd so much been looking forward to reading this so-called biography of Venice. But it turns out to be not much more than a lazy history of the city. No theme, no analysis, no character, no sense that Peter Ackroyd has ever actually visited the place. The biographical approach is justified by a multiplicity of short chapters on any aspect of the city that comes to mind. But it's really just a way of including everything and the kitchen sink without having to think too much about structure. The book neither brings the city to life nor in any insightful way delivers a new historical approach. Certainly it contains a lot of information but it came across to me as the author mining tomes of notes passed to him by a team of researcher and not being particularly choosy about what to accept and what to reject. I'll have to look elsewhere for an insiders view of the city.

Review by

Ackroyd knows his subject and he knows how to write. This is thematic rather than a chronological history. Full of detail and interesting reflections on how Venice has grown and developed and, now, seems to be dying.

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