Friday 20 April 2012

Robert C. Davis and Beth Lindsmith, Renaissance People

robert c. davis and beth lindsmith renaissance people

This brick-like book has caught my eye a few times before I actually picked it up from the library shelf.  Apparently, it's a popular one, because I kept finding it atop of the other books.  At first I resisted.  I am only mildly interested in the history of the Renaissance, and the book seemed rather boring, 'educate yourself' type anyway.  Eventually I gave up, checked it out and was once again proven how misleading a first impression can be. 

Renaissance People is NOT boring.  It is well written, beautifully illustrated and, well, educational in the non-invasive, non-irritating way.  It presents about a hundred of short biographies - two to three pages of text each.  I was particularly impressed by the selection:  apart from the obvious bunch of writers, painters and thinkers we get an acrobat, a courtesan, some actors, even a celebrity chef! 

Each biography presents a person from birth to death and is generously laced with anecdotes and fancy highlights throughout.  Pictures take roughly as much space as text - and what pictures!  Quality of my edition was breathtaking - thick, heavy, pleasant-to-touch paper, lifelike colours and impressive detail.  The whole book feels like a medieval manuscript on your lap, with its weight and bulkiness. 

A historian would probably be bored by Renaissance People - due to the book's format, the biographies are rather sketchy - but for the rest of the world, the book is definitely worth recommending.

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