Ross King has a real knack for penning popular guides to great moments in art history, and in this outing he does an admirable job of explaining the difficult business of raising the spectacular dome over Florence’s cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. I was particularly struck by how Brunelleschi was recognized by his contemporaries more for his mechanical genius than for his skill as an architect. It’s hard to imagine an engineer being recognized as an artist today. How narrow a historical window was it when this had to be the case? And isn’t it true that creativity needs formal challenges, like that faced by Brunellesschi, to really thrive?