January 10th, 2012

never there

"Renaissance People: Lives that Shaped the Modern Age" Robert C. Davis & Beth Lindsmith

"Renaissance People: Lives that Shaped the Modern Age" by Robert C. Davis & Beth Lindsmith was one of my Christmas presents (and counts as the last book of 2011 because I finished it while we were visiting Oxford so it must be pre-New Year's Day), and is about one of my favourite periods of history (the Ancient Egyptian stuff is J's thing really).

The book consists of 94 short biographies organised into seven sections, each of which has an introductory chapter. The sections are chronologically arranged, each with a theme - for instance Chapter 1 is "Old Traditions & New Ideas", covering 1400-1450 (setting the stage for the Renaissance proper) and including people such as Cosimo de'Medici & Jan van Eyck. Each life is covered in at most 3 or 4 pages, so clearly doesn't go into much depth on any given individual - instead they combine to give a flavour of the sorts of people & sorts of lives those people had in Europe during the Renaissance. Some of the people are the well known ones (like Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Desiderius Erasmus, Martin Luther, Catherine de'Medici etc etc), but others were people I hadn't heard of (some I should've, some it's unlikely I would've before).

A good read - interesting & not at all dry in style. As the biographies are all short it never gets bogged down, but still manages to convey a lot of information. And it's well illustrated - mostly with reproductions of painting of or by the person being talked about.