History book reviews

Reviews of the latest history books, all written by expert historians.



Michelangelo: His Epic Life
by Martin Gayford
Joad Raymond on an engaging account of the life and work of an artist often seen as the archetypal ‘Renaissance man’
The Ugly Renaissance
by Alexander Lee
Joad Raymond on an exploration of the ‘ugly’ morality that lurked beneath the surface of Renaissance Florence
The First Bohemians
by Vic Gatrell
Hallie Rubenhold is enthralled by a tour of 18th-century Covent Garden and the creative set who made it their home
by Jonathan Conlin
Leo Hollis praises a perceptive take on the relationship between London and Paris, and how it shaped the modern global city
The Spirit of Venice: From Marco Polo to Casanova
by Paul Strathern
Roger Crowley looks at an alternative history of the Republic of Venice, told through the stories of some of its most colourful characters
The Woman Reader
by Belinda Jack
June Purvis discovers how female literacy has faced a myriad of challenges over the centuries
The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection
by Thomas de Wesselow
Beth Williamson considers a bold attempt to prove the authenticity of one of Christianity’s best-known relics
A Visitor’s Guide to the Ancient Olympics
by Neil Faulkner
Paul Cartledge savours a breezy history of the ancient Greek Olympics, presented in travel-guide style
Why Nations Fail
by Daron Acemoglu and James A Robinson
Frank Trentmann has high praise for an ambitious attempt to explain the vast discrepancies of global wealth
The Secret History of Our Streets: London
by Joseph Bullman, Neil Hegarty and Brian Hill
Leo Hollis is fascinated by a history of six London streets, and what it tells us about the city’s development
Power Games: Ritual and Rivalry at the Ancient Greek Olympics
by David Stuttard
Michael C Scott is impressed with an account of the 416 BC games
The War on Heresy: Faith and Power in Medieval Europe
by RI Moore
Jonathan Wright believes that a new study of medieval heresy takes the right approach to a tricky subject
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