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[Scotti] . . . appreciates the epic quest and querulousness and leaves us wondering how anything of any merit ever gets designed, built, consecrated and celebrated. (The Providence Journal-Bulletin) -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch .


Traces Pope Julius II's sixteenth-century construction of a new basilica in place of the Emperor Constantine's millennium-old St. Peter's Basilica, documenting how building efforts spanned two centuries and more than two dozen papacies.

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50 von 56 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Point Counterpoint 18. Juli 2006
Von History Lover - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Basilica, (see my review) I can't let A. McDonald's remarks pass unanswered. As Basilica explains, St. Peter's was constructed with concrete masonry, the same method that ancient Roman architects used to build their monumental edifices. McDonald may be thinking of Portland concrete which dates to the 18th c.

As to the question of the Reformation, A. McDonald seems to have completely missed the nuances in Scotti's writing. The author never says that the excessive cost of building St. Peter's caused the Reformation. Rather, she sees it as the straw that broke the camel's back, prompting Martin Luther to post his theses. In fact, Scotti makes the further point that Luther's theses did not cause the Reformation so much as start the conversation and that the causes of the Reformation were as much political as theological. The historical "what if" that Basilica asks is a fascinating question to think about: What if there had been no excessive Basilica costs and no outrageous clerical behavior in Rome to raise the dander of the young monk?

An equally intriguing question to ponder after reading Basilica: From the perspective of 500 years, was St. Peter's worth the incalculable cost?
30 von 33 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A Mixed Bag 27. Juli 2006
Von Michael Cain - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I've been waiting for a popular history dealing with the Renaissance, Reformation, Catholic Reformation, etc. And at first glance this book is it. It's an easy and absorbing read, and endlessly fascinating.

And yet ... this story crumbles under closer inspection. Two examples, among many:

"By the end of Leo's disastrous, eight-year pontificate, all the main players in the first building phase of St. Peter's were dead: Guiliano della Rovere, Donato Bramante, Guiliano da Sangallo, Fra Giovanni Giocondo, Raphael Sanzio, and Agostino Chigi."

Aye. Guiliane della Rovere was Julius II. Of course he was dead at the end of his successor's reign. Scotti covers Bramante, Raphael, and Chigi in decent detail. But da Sangallo is only mentioneed a few times, and Fra Giocondo is only introduced once. It was a shock to realize they were 'major players.' And others, notably Michelangelo, were very much alive.

It seems minor, but over and over Scotti introduces secondary characters as if we know them already when, in fact, she has never mentioneed them before.

Other passages just confused me. The Sack of Rome is particularly confusing - I had to put the book down and look it up on Wikipedia to know what she was talking about.

I can still recommend the book as an excellent read ... but it should have been a classic, and could have been with a touch better editing.
171 von 211 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
APPALLINGLY bad, inaccurate history 16. Juli 2006
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
On a positive note, this book on the building of St Peters does have some strengths. Scotti describes the dynamics between the patrons (the powerful dynastic families of popes and cardinals sponsoring Roman cultural projects) and the artists - and these are vivid personalities all. She breezily recreates scenes involving popes and painters, such as this typical passage describing the artist Perugino meeting the adult Raphael, formerly his pupil:

"Perugino, eyes moistened, rushed forward and embranced Raphael
like a son. It was an emotional moment for the old painter.
He pinched the boy's cheeks affectionately, marveling at how he had grown."

Although Scotti doesn't seem too bothered to examine original sources to create these scenes (the bibliography is entirely second source material), no matter, they are fun, lightly paced, and charming if this sort of pop historical creativity appeals to you.

Unfortunately Scotti's creative energy also involves fundamental fictions about her subject matter. There are the annoying, small errors like misnaming buildings in the Forum. These are forgivable -- what tourist hasn't got these confused? But then there are howlers that demonstrate she's unfamiliar with the building she's writing about: for instance, she incorrectly asserts that St Peters was built with cast structural concrete. In order to "cast the concrete vaults for the Basilica," as Scotti puts it, Bramante (the 16th century architect building St Peters) would have had to... invent concrete. Concrete as a technology was developed by the ancient Romans, but knowledge of its process vanished with the collapse of their building culture. So Scotti states that Bramante had studied the Romans and rediscovered their methods of using concrete. It's sad that a quick google search could have helped her straighten this out - concrete was rediscovered in the 19th century, not 16th. St. Peters was built with mortared masonry, and contains no concrete nor any cast material approximating it. If she didn't know the basics of how St Peters was technically constructed - and remember this is a book about the construction of a building -- it might have served Scotti better to have skipped all of this, rather than making it up.

Still, even this pales to the inaccuracy of the larger point of the book, the "Scandal" in the subtitle. Scotti attempts to link the construction of the St Peters, in particular its exorbitant expense, with the Reformation itself. In her argument, the Popes were so corrupt, so decayed in moral sensibility, that they constructed St Peters regardless of the burden it would bear on their finances, and the basilica's expense caused outrage throughout the Christian world -- leading to a the Reformation and Protestant split from the Church. She varies her positions on this influence, and obviously recognizes that there were more factors to the Reformation than this building. But in many cases her claim that the building program of St Peters caused the Reformation is clearly stated: had the handling of the basilica's construction been more carefully managed, less divisive, then the Protestant church may not have even happened: "the demands for reform might have been heeded, the rift healed, and the grand enterprise of the century progressed without corrupt indulgences, confused plans, or extravagant expense."

Anyone considering themselves Catholic or Protestant would be offended by the childish reduction of the split between their faith as due to the mere expense of a building -- as if the Popes had listened better to their accountants then the Reformation would never have occurred. Nothing could be further from the case. The Protestant and Catholic Church split on theological issues. The issues that drove Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin to separate from the Catholic church were issues of faith, they were issues of sacrament, of justification to God, of the role of church hierarchy, and of differing views on the nature of salvation itself. To reduce the Reformation as causally due to the extravagant cost of a building is fundamentally misunderstand it, and is fundamentally bad history.
22 von 26 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Absorbing history that reads like a soap opera. 2. August 2006
Von Paul Tognetti - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
As a lifelong and very active Catholic I was shocked to learn just how little I knew about the history of St. Peters in Rome. For example, I was totally unaware that Constantine erected the first St. Peters in the year 312 A.D. and that the original structure survived for more than 1200 years! And I had certainly never read very much about how the current St. Peters came to be either. "Basilica" tells the remarkable story of the planning and constructon of what many consider to be among the most beautiful and recognizable edifices in the world. It is a tale with more twists and turns, heroes and villains, triumphs and disappointments than one could ever imagine. It is a spellbinding story.

The prime mover and shaker behind the second St. Peters was Pope Julius II. The year was 1505. Julius envisioned a structure that would "embody the greatness of the present and the future." The new St. Peter's would dwarf the constructions of the Caesars and proclaim the power and glory of Christ and His Church. The pope would assemble the most brilliant minds in Rome and would spare no expense to achieve his dream. Among those he recruited for the project were Bramante, Raphael and yes, Michaelangelo. But building the new St. Peters would turn out to be a much more costly and time consuming proposition than anyone could have ever imagined.
"Basilica" tells the amazing story of what would turn out to be a 162 year project. The tale is replete with nasty politics, betrayal, bitter rivalries, greed and a variety of other moral shortcomings. But in the end the good really does outweigh the bad. R.A. Scotti writes of the remarkable engineering and architectural feats that made the new St. Peter's possible. She reminds us all of the genius of artists like Michaelangelo and Raphael. And she chronicles the perseverance of so many of the Holy Fathers who were determined to overcome the numerous obstacles that arose and to see this project through.

Now I suspect that for those who are already well versed in these matters "Basilica" will probably not break a whole lot of new ground. But for the rest of us "Basilica" is a great introduction to so many of these topics. R.A. Scotti succeeded in holding my interest from cover to cover. A great read! Recommended.
30 von 37 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Beware: Sloppy Research 16. Juli 2006
Von AKNickerson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
As a Renaissance scholar I was disappointed and shocked by the sloppy inaccuracies in Ms. Scotti's text. While she tells an engaging story, she gets many of the fundamentals of history and architecture wrong. The story, indeed, is one worthy of being told. Ms. Scotti, however, does not have the teeth to do it well.
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