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Rome: A History in Seven Sackings

Narrated by: Neil Gardner
Length: 12 hrs and 38 mins
Categories: History, Ancient
4.5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

Non-member price: $29.65

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Publisher's Summary

No city on earth has preserved its past as has Rome. Visitors stand on bridges that were crossed by Julius Caesar and Cicero, walk around temples visited by Roman emperors, and step into churches that have hardly changed since popes celebrated mass in them 16 centuries ago.

These architectural survivals are all the more remarkable considering the violent disasters that have struck the city. Afflicted by earthquakes, floods, fires and plagues, it has most of all been repeatedly ravaged by roving armies.

Rome: A History in Seven Sackings examines the most important of these attacks and reveals, with fascinating insight, how they transformed the city - and not always for the worse. From the Gauls to the Nazis, Kneale vividly recounts those threatening the city while drawing an intense and vibrant portrait of the city and its inhabitants, both before and after being attacked.

In these troubled times when our cities can seem fragile, Rome's history offers a picture that is both shocking and also reassuring. Like the Neapolitans from Norman Lewis' Naples '44, Romans have repeatedly shrugged off catastrophes and made their city anew.

A meticulously researched, magical and novel blend of travelogue, social and cultural history, Rome: A History in Seven Sackings is part celebration of the fierce courage, panache and vitality of the Roman people and part passionate love letter to Rome. This is a popular history of the famous, incomparable city like no other.

©2017 Matthew Kneale (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

What listeners say about Rome: A History in Seven Sackings

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-07-2018

Great story, well told - shame about the Italian!

Fascinating history, very well written. The narrator is enthusiastic and engaging - but reads Italian words by turns as if they were either French or Spanish. For anyone with even a passing knowledge of Italian, this is really distracting. When doing an audiobook set in Italy and stuffed with Italian names, surely the producers have a responsibility to find someone who actually knows how to pronounce them - and the narrator also has a responsibility to find out how they are pronounced rather than just blatantly guessing. Disappointing.

12 people found this helpful

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  • John Imeson
  • 19-12-2017

Fantastic

An ingenious way of giving 23 centuries of Roman history in a concise and fascinating way. The narration conveys the story of Rome in an engaging manner. All together an excellent audio book.

7 people found this helpful

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  • M. Harvey
  • 17-10-2018

Fascinating and brilliantly structured

Very cleverly, Matthew Kneale chooses seven key moments as windows into Rome's history. The approach works and you get a real sense of Rome's story in a short book. The audio narration has some slightly teeth-tingling pronunciation of Italian names but otherwise is engaging and well paced.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Boz
  • 03-10-2018

Awful pronunciation a let-down, otherwise good

It surely can't be too difficult for a professional narrator to find an Italian, any Italian, to go over the pronunciation of a few names and places...or he could just look up the Italian pronunciation online. Very good book but there are so many names and places which are apparently pronounced entirely at random that it spoiled the book for me. Other listeners might not find this off-putting but if you know Rome well, the pronunciation is often so cringeworthy that I had to ask for a refund, despite enjoying the content.

3 people found this helpful

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  • The Village Green
  • 18-01-2019

Excellent popular history

An enjoyable read about the Eternal City in some of its darkest times. The author’s style is concise but entertaining, while the narrator handles things adeptly. However, he does stumble over the Italian wording here and there. For example, his pronunciation of ‘Trastevere’ set my teeth on edge a little. But this is minor quibble.

Of the sackings, there were occasions where I was amazed how lightly Rome got off compared with other cities in similar eras. On other occasions, particularly when Imperial forces sacked the city after its fall in 1527, the hell Rome citizens went through was simply appalling. Some of the history I had not encountered before and will enjoy reading-up on further.

The author’s handling of the two modern occupations, particularly his exploration of the German occupation from 43-44, was thought-provoking, especially the relationship Romans had with fascism - largely content when things went right, angered and confused when things fell apart. It’s here, perhaps, that one encounters the work's weakest point: some important events are skirted over and the question of culpability for fascism among the Romans is often left hanging.

A final positive point was the author's ability to link the previous sacks of Rome to the one under discussion, and to assess the history leading up to the point at which the city is taken over. All of this is done with broad strokes but without losing detail. Overall, an excellent audiobook and one for any fan of Rome or those with an interest in general history.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mr. G. Mitchell
  • 25-08-2018

Bit misleading title

You would think a book called "A history in seven sackings" would be about sackings of Rome...no, its about the life of Rome in different times, mostly politics and religion, which are major themes during this period. With very little actually to do with the capturing/sacking or Rome. There are chapters after chapters that have nothing to do with the taking of the city, tatics or reason why someone was trying to take the city, and other parts were it will just dedicate maybe 2 paragraphs to someone else trying to take the city.
The Narrate Neil Gardner did a good job, read at a steady clear pace.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Emanuele Pezzani
  • 21-07-2020

Too bad for the Italian names!

As an Italian (though not from Rome) and a history aficionado, this book was a pleasant surprise! I was most familiar with the proper sackings of 410 and 1527, so I was curious as to which other moments of history the author had chosen: I didn't know much about the events from the 536, 1084 and 1848 conflicts (although I knew more about the last one - shoutout for mentioning Andrea Aguyar!)
I also like the tripartite structure of the chapters, which I learnt to like from another book I really like.
So the book itself was engaging, well-documented (to the best of my knowledge), and be listened to in a short while (it took me only a few days, and I'm not a great listener). However, I do feel like I have to point out one shortcoming of the reader: it flows really well for the most part but when he starts reading Italian names (and he might have expected that in a book on Rome there would be plenty!), I think that he really should have consulted a native speaker! I can understand that strings of words like "San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane", or even whole quotes in Italian, might look daunting for English-speaking people who don't know the language, but many other nouns are much simpler, and they also feature a lot in the narration (as well as not requiring any weird sound that isn't already in English), like the "Gianicolo" hill (accent on the "i"), which he reads "Giancolo" (accent on the "o"), "Chigi" (pronounced "kiji", not tchigi"), or that bane of English speakers "Medici", which has its accent on the "e"! I think he could have prepared himself better on that front; overall, however, it was an enjoyable listening, I just cringed a bit for his reading of Italian names...

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  • j hellings
  • 07-05-2020

great narrative framework. poor delivery

this was a great idea for a review of Romes history and a very clear interesting narrative. as with most audio books it is very frustrating not to be able to refer to chapter titles in order to navigate the book. the real drawback of so many audio books. why such a problem to include chapter titles so you can go back?
the narrator was frankly poor. his voice was ok. pace ok. but syntax frequently off especially when reading lists. and when the book includes so many foreign words pick a reader who knows something of the language. pronunciation was inconsistent and often just wrong. really grating delivery and a difficult listen. even some retakes were included in a couple of places so very poor editing