Thu, Nov
22
2012

An Ideal Synthesis

BASILICA - THE SPLENDOR AND THE SCANDAL: BUILDING ST. PETER’S

Written by R. A. Scotti

Sometimes, you find a book that completely unifies the way you look at the world.

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Sometimes, you find a book that takes your personal stance on history, science, art, and politics…and ties everything together in a way that is sublimity in action. You are left in perfect accord with the writing, as if the author had read your mind and done his or her best to accommodate you intellectual tastes.

That’s what I felt reading Basilica.

Knowing that I will be in Rome this spring for my second visit to the Eternal City, I found this book in the book store at just the right moment. But this serendipity rewarded me a thousand times over. It’s simply one of those history books that manages to completely encapsulate what superb non-fiction literature should be like all the time.

It has a fluid prose style. It plays with enormous amounts of historical information — and innumerable characters — without ever boring the reader or outstaying its welcome. It manages to tell a grand, epic story about one of the grandest, most epic buildings ever constructed…while never ignoring the state of the world in which it was built. The Renaissance, the Reformation, the dawn of Baroque…all in one triumphantly sculpted package.

In short, Basilica is perfection. The perfect primer for my return visit to Rome…and the perfect, sweeping, absorbing historical read for everyone to enjoy. Highly recommended.