Rome

Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History
Robert Hughes

The outspoken and opinionated culture critic and art historian Robert Hughes takes on his biggest subject yet in this lively biography of the Eternal City. In fact the subject is a little too big to fit into such a book, especially as it often drifts away from Hughes’s strengths (talking about art) and into more general discussions of Italian politics. The chapters on the Renaissance and Counter-Reformation are the strongest, while those on the Roman Empire skim too quickly over well-trodden ground. The book ends with a jaded and curmudgeonly look at the degraded present scene (and this is before the economic collapse and fall of Berlusconi!), but it’s still a love letter to a city whose epic history describes “an enormous concretion of human glory and human error.”