• Brunelleschi's Dome

  • How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture
  • By: Ross King
  • Narrated by: James Cameron Stewart
  • Length: 6 hrs and 36 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (115 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

On August 19, 1418, a competition concerning Florence's magnificent new cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore was announced: "Whoever desires to make any model or design for the vaulting of the main Dome...shall do so before the end of the month of September." The proposed dome was regarded far and wide as all but impossible to build. The dome would literally need to be erected over thin air.  

Of the many plans submitted, one stood out. It was offered not by a master mason or carpenter, but by a goldsmith and clockmaker named Filippo Brunelleschi, who would dedicate the next 28 years to solving the puzzles of the dome's construction. In the process, he did nothing less than reinvent the field of architecture.  

Brunelleschi's Dome is the story of how a Renaissance genius bent men, materials, and the very forces of nature to build an architectural wonder we continue to marvel at today. Denounced at first as a madman, Brunelleschi was celebrated at the end as a genius. He engineered the perfect placement of brick and stone, built ingenious hoists and cranes to carry an estimated 70 million pounds hundreds of feet into the air, and designed the workers' platforms and routines so carefully that only one man died during the decades of construction.

©2000 Ross King (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about Brunelleschi's Dome

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Architect during the Italian Renaissance

This is a terrific book that recounts the backstory behind the construction of the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy, by Fillipo Brunelleschi. The dome still remains the largest dome in the world without any flying buttresses or center support. A history of the construction and all the internal problems is well-covered.

3 people found this helpful

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Ok

This book is a little confusing to follow because the author is not always clear about who he is talking about. He also uses key architectural terms but never explains their meaning making the average listener confused. The narrator is not my favorite- no emotion and the way he reads reminds me of a robot. Just my preference.
Again, I do appreciate that the writing is based on facts and research.

3 people found this helpful

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  • pg
  • 06-26-22

Fascinating story

I wish I had read this before I visited Florence many years ago. Fascinating story.

1 person found this helpful

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Very interesting and informative

The author spends a lot of time on the actual mechanics of building the dome and the machinery created/used by Brunelleschi. It gives you an amazing perspective of how brilliant and ahead of his time Filipo was. The narrator has the potential to be great, but he adds these weird inflections that are really unnecessary. He’s kind of hard to swallow sometimes, but not to a point where you can’t listen. I’d give him a 3.5 rating, if that was an option. Overall, worth the listen.

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A Wonderful Perspective on 14/15th Century Italy

This was both entertaining and educational. I highly recommend this book to anyone fascinated by genius and creativity and for Italophiles.

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The hidden intricacies of the Dome

The void between the actual exterior and interior of the dome that is accessed for inspection.

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Great history with terrible narration

Fascinating story with well-researched material and lots of obscure little details and anecdotes about a triumph of renaissance architecture. Unfortunately the sing-song drone of Mr. Stewart makes this book almost impossible to listen to for more than a few minutes at a time. While he pronounces the Italian names, places, and locations with admirable skill, he somehow manages to come across as both bored and condescending with the reading of the story because of the relentless sing-song inflections of his voice. It's as if he were narrating a dictionary or an encyclopedia, It grates on your nerves--at least it does mine--and I end up re-listening to almost everything, sometimes multiple times, because the vocal variations have nothing to do with the story line but simply numb your brain into inattention, like the relentless tick-tock of a metronome.

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  • CCE
  • 05-01-21

Brilliant book, shocking performance.

I know this book well. Studied it, studied the subject matter, read the book several times. Thought I'd use a credit in buying the audible version so I could enjoy the book whilst driving. Truly wish I hadn't bothered. Whilst I don't doubt Ross King's work - I've seen him lecture, have read his other books about Leonardo, The Last Supper; all of his work in this particular book was completely spoiled by the narrator. It was like listening to a computerised version of someone reading out the words. Disjointed, badly emphasised in the wrong places, dull, uninteresting. I mean like SERIOUSLY. This is a lesson in how to read a book badly. I'm sorry for Ross King that his brilliant work has been butchered.

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