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Sicily: An Island at the Crossroads of History

de John Julius Norwich

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216396,696 (3.85)11
"'Sicily,' said Goethe, 'is the key to everything.' The birthplace of Archimedes, Georgio de Chirico, and Muhammad al-Idrisi, it is the largest island in the Mediterranean. The stepping-stone between Europe and Africa, the gateway between the East and the West, the link between the Latin world and the Greek, at once a stronghold, clearing-house and observation-point, it has been fought over and occupied in turn by all the great powers that have striven over the centuries to extend their dominion across the Middle Sea. John Julius Norwich offers a vivid, erudite, page-turning account of an island and the remarkable kings, queens, and tyrants who fought to rule it. From its beginnings as a feared Greek city-state to its rise as a wealthy, multicultural trading hub during the Crusades, to its rebellion against Italian unification and the rise of the Mafia, the story of Sicily is rich with extraordinary moments and dramatic characters. Norwich outlines the surprising influence Sicily has had on world history--the Roman fascination with Greek culture dates back to their sack of Sicily--and tells the story of one of the world's most kaleidoscopic cultures in a galvanizing, contemporary way"--… (més)
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Histoire par un non historien. Plutôt agréable à lire. Comme un roman. ( )
  ours57 | May 27, 2021 |
This is a thoroughly readable history of Sicily, putting the island into a European and Mediterranean context. There are lots of asides and anecdotes that, while not strictly necessary for the history, help bring the different people to life across the centuries. Unfortunately for Sicily, her heyday appears to have been in the 12th century, and therefore the bulk of the book has the sense of being a location in decline. The Sicilians are not exactly innocent in this, the nobles act disgracefully, the poor are horribly downtrodden until the rise up and revolt, which they do frequently. unfortunately, little seems to change for the better. This is as much a story of what might have been as what was.
At one point, Norwich is describing the mosaics and interior of the Palatine church and goes in detail for a paragraph, At the end of which he says that this is not a guidebook and he'll get back to the history. However the description was as beguiling as a guidebook and I was googling holidays to Sicily - assuming we're ever allowed to go anywhere ever again. From this is appears to be a fascinating place. ( )
  Helenliz | May 7, 2021 |
Read 2017. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 14, 2020 |
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"'Sicily,' said Goethe, 'is the key to everything.' The birthplace of Archimedes, Georgio de Chirico, and Muhammad al-Idrisi, it is the largest island in the Mediterranean. The stepping-stone between Europe and Africa, the gateway between the East and the West, the link between the Latin world and the Greek, at once a stronghold, clearing-house and observation-point, it has been fought over and occupied in turn by all the great powers that have striven over the centuries to extend their dominion across the Middle Sea. John Julius Norwich offers a vivid, erudite, page-turning account of an island and the remarkable kings, queens, and tyrants who fought to rule it. From its beginnings as a feared Greek city-state to its rise as a wealthy, multicultural trading hub during the Crusades, to its rebellion against Italian unification and the rise of the Mafia, the story of Sicily is rich with extraordinary moments and dramatic characters. Norwich outlines the surprising influence Sicily has had on world history--the Roman fascination with Greek culture dates back to their sack of Sicily--and tells the story of one of the world's most kaleidoscopic cultures in a galvanizing, contemporary way"--

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