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Sailing from Byzantium: How a Lost Empire Shaped the World

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  • Posted March 17, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    We Don't Know Them But They Made Us

    Colin Wells gives a delightful history of the Byzantines in a readable account sprinkled with surprising historical tidbits, all on a foundation of rich insight. Though we have largely forgotten the Byzantines, they live among us yet, in our cultural patterns and views of the world. Wells is particularly good at unearthing largely-forgotten movements of peoples and ideas. His sense of the flow of influence between Byzantium and the Italian Renaissance alone is worth the reading time.
    As I read the book, I was preparing for my first visit to Istanbul. Because of the author's careful review of the Chora (outside the wall) Church in the city, I made that museum my first stop. Breathtaking frescoes and mosaics, certainly of a kind with Giotto's work in Padua, as Wells claims. It does make one wonder at the similarity of work and the near-simultaneous timing of the works. That one afternoon in Chora made the trip satisfying and enriching.
    The book is written for quick reading, smooth in style, and stimulating to any lover of history and culture.

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