• The Bookseller of Florence

  • The Story of the Manuscripts That Illuminated the Renaissance
  • By: Ross King
  • Narrated by: James Cameron Stewart
  • Length: 18 hrs and 20 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (32 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Renaissance in Florence conjures images of beautiful frescoes and elegant buildings - the dazzling handiwork of the city's skilled artists and architects. But equally important for the centuries to follow were geniuses of a different sort: Florence's manuscript hunters, scribes, scholars, and booksellers, who blew the dust off a thousand years of history and, through the discovery and diffusion of ancient knowledge, imagined a new and enlightened world.

At the heart of this activity, which best-selling author Ross King relates in his exhilarating new book, was a remarkable man: Vespasiano da Bisticci. Born in 1422, he became what a friend called "the king of the world's booksellers". At a time when all books were made by hand, over four decades Vespasiano produced and sold many hundreds of volumes from his bookshop, which also became a gathering spot for debate and discussion. Besides repositories of ancient wisdom by the likes of Plato, Aristotle, and Quintilian, his books were works of art in their own right, copied by talented scribes and illuminated by the finest miniaturists. His clients included a roll call of popes, kings, and princes across Europe who wished to burnish their reputations by founding magnificent libraries.

©2021 Ross King (P)2021 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about The Bookseller of Florence

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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, Horrible narrator

As usual, for Ross King, great book. It’s well written and rigorously researched. However, this audiobook is marred by horrendous narration. The narration became somewhat tolerable when sped up, but not enough, what with the narrator’s strange modulations and inflections, to render this audiobook as listenable .

9 people found this helpful

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Horrible Narrator

Great story, and I knew much of it before I read it, having worked with antiquarian books and manuscripts for decades. I was happy the author made it more accessible to the general public. But the narrator was terrible. The number of names and terms he mispronounced was embarrassing. He was also very boring.

6 people found this helpful

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A Bird’s Eye View of Renaissance Florence and it’s Relationship with Naples, Urbino, Milan, and the Papacy

In all a very interesting book, sort of like “The Swerve”, portraying the movers and shakers in various parts of Italy, the love of learning, and the desire of some of these personalities in amassing large libraries, such as the Duke of Urbino,Frederigo de Montefeltro, Cosimo de Medici, and One of the kings of Naples, the father of Ferrante of Naples. The author conveyed the excitement of many in Florence when scholars from Constantinople came to Florence as the Ottomans were advancing, carrying with them the works of Plato and Homer and their knowledge of Greek.

I found parts too technical such as the manner printing presses were set up and worked.

I loved the narrator.

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Bringing the past to light

A stunning narrative of the 15th century search for, recovery, preservation and dissemination of ancient texts in the context of the fall of Constantinople and the rise of print. A primer on the art of manuscripts, this story involved in bookseller'connections to and work for the great collectors of the age -- major leaders of Italy's pre-Renaissance-- as well as the philosophical commentators who restored Plato among others to the European tradition.
A sweeping story told with verve.

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horrible

I thought this book would have a story. Ended up be a yawn inducing history book.

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Book vs Audible

First of all, let me say that I am a huge Ross King fan. I have read and kept all of his books, reveling in his superior research, writing style, and being transformed to prior times in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. Every book has been a delightful experience and I keep them because they might well be worth reading again some time.

Wanting to increase the reading experience by also listening to the book, I also purchased the Audible version. Honestly, I usually only respond when it is a good experience and stay away from giving a bad review. But, as another reviewer said, the narration by Mr. Stewart came across as pompous. It’s as if he has disdain for the reader and is bored by the experience. Sometimes it just takes time to get used to a person’s style. For me, over time, it just became more grating so I switched back to reading the book, which is a delightful experience.

This is one of those rare situations where listening to the book did not enhance the experience. Other Ross King audible books are the opposite: very worth listening to or reading. I highly recommend reading any book this author has written.

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Very Interesting perspective on renaissance italy - worth reading!

i found Stewart’s narration weirdly, almost comically, pompous. otherwise a five-star listen. this book is quite different from other ross king books in that the “McGuffin” is the advent of the printing press, not the construction of a masterpiece. lots of great technological detail, which a ross king trademark. the medici’s, good popes, rotten popes, bloodthirsty murderers, translations of plato, etc.: all good stuff. i think people who like ross king will like this book a lot.