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Extended Audio Sample Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peters Audiobook, by R. A. Scotti Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (635 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: R. A. Scotti Narrator: Josephine Bailey Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2006 ISBN: 9781400172344
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It was the splendor-and the scandal-of the age. In 1506, the ferociously ambitious Renaissance Pope Julius II tore down the most sacred shrine in Europe-the millennium-old St. Peter's Basilica built by the Emperor Constantine over the apostle's grave-to build a better basilica. Construction of the new St. Peter's spanned two centuries, embroiled twenty-seven popes, and consumed the genius of the greatest artists of the age-Michaelangelo, Bramante, Raphael, and Bernini. The cost of building the new cathedral was costly in more than just monetary terms-the new basilica provoked the Protestant Reformation, dividing the Christian world for all time. In this swift, colorful narrative, R. A. Scotti brings to life the artists and the popes, the politics and the passions behind this audacious enterprise. Scotti turns sacred architecture into a spellbinding human epic of enormous daring, petty jealousy, and staggering genius. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Astonishes. A sweeping account of the largest assemblage of artistic genius on any project in history.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “A fair and fascinating examination of splendorous and scandalous events. Scotti is a dramatic storyteller.”

    National Review

  • “Absorbing. A fascinating tale of genius, power, and money.”

    Publishers Weekly

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Andrew Rush | 2/18/2014

    " A pretty good book about the building of St. Peter's. This book lacks the magic of Brunelleschi's Dome but is a nice follow up read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Adam Braun | 2/13/2014

    " If you've ever been to St. Peter's and thought "I wonder how this thing was built", then read this book. It gives a pretty extensive background into the century-long building process, the key players (including Michelangelo, Bernini, Julius II), and the context surrounding its construction. Lots of detail. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Josh | 2/8/2014

    " A really interesting book. It is crazy to see how intricate things can be with art and religion and architecture. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Grace Lattyak | 2/7/2014

    " Great walks of Rome in the back! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mom | 1/26/2014

    " Some of the most fascinating characters of European history were the rogues and saints gallery of popes. They are all there in this entertaining romp through the ages. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris Faulkner | 1/12/2014

    " Fantastic read on the people, circumstances and effects of the building of St. Peter's. Wish I would have read this before I visited the Vatican. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caity | 12/21/2013

    " Very interesting construction of the story surrounding the Basilica. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lindsay | 12/13/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book, which details the papal politics surrounding the 150+ year building of St. Peter's Basilica. It's a concise history that resists getting bogged down. It made me anxious to go back to the Vatican and re-see all the sights with this background information. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meghan | 12/1/2013

    " I've never been a nonfiction fan, but this book is fascinating. It can move slowly in some parts, but it is an incredible learning experience from start to finish. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pat | 11/22/2013

    " Enthralling read about the building of St. Peter's. Loved it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ashley | 11/6/2013

    " Really excellent account of the building of St. Peter's Basilica. Not a dry history by any means -- the author includes all the juicy bits of scandal of the popes and the egotistic and often crazy artists they employed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 MS | 10/27/2013

    " If you are interested in Church architecture and Church history, this is a very enjoyable read. Very satisfying description of some artistic giants and rapscallion popes. Fun book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 James Blake | 10/25/2013

    " Very intersting, though I have heard some of the story may be imbelished. Though I found it fascinating...good for anyone interested in Rome and/or architecture. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen | 10/5/2013

    " If you have seen St Peters or want to see it this is must read. Wonderful read of history and facts surrounding this beautiful and most important structure to so many people. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Siefker | 9/15/2013

    " I couldn't put this down. It's a fascinating, whirlwind overview of the building of St. Peter's. Light on pictures and diagrams, but full of larger than life personalities. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Anne-Marie | 9/11/2013

    " Okay... So did I ACTUALLY finish this for AP Euro? That's open for debate... But seriously, it's not going to be on any test or final so I figured I'd rather spend my time on more sophisticated reading like Charlie Brown. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kerry Frabizio | 8/17/2013

    " Lots of repetition between this and Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling, but worth a look. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lori Symmonds | 8/16/2013

    " Very interesting history of St. Peters. Well written and engaging. A history of the popes, the times, the artists, and Rome itself. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anna Hanson | 8/7/2013

    " Part adventure story, part gossip tale, and fully engrossing, this history of the building of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome took hold of me from the start and didn't let go. History lovers - travelers - anyone, really, will find much to enjoy in this account; I highly recommend it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Magda | 3/31/2013

    " If your planning a trip to Rome this is a great resource on the Basilica and it gives you a better appreciation for the wonder and making of the building. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mr. | 2/10/2013

    " I simply had no idea how complex this entire project was. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 2/9/2013

    " Read it after a trip to Rome and it gave perspective to the beauty. Will re-read if I go again. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kenneth Grosselin | 4/29/2012

    " The vivid descriptions of Vatican architecture are very good; however, the book is at its best when Scotti is describing the motivations and relationships between the Pope's and the artists that raised St. Peter's Basilica. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amanda | 4/15/2012

    " Read parts of it for research: want to finish it someday. It has fasincating information, but like a lot of non-fiction, it can be pretty dull at times. I studied Art History in school, so I probably enjoy this book more than most would. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vance | 3/23/2012

    " Lots of fun reading about the human element in the magnificent building. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jill | 2/11/2012

    " Fairly academic, but tells the great story of building St. Peter's. It is the first time I've read much about the personality and trials behind this - different Popes, various artists including Michaelangelo and all of their interactions. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melanie | 2/7/2012

    " The story of building St. Peter's basilica. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leah | 10/20/2011

    " This historical account of the building of St. Peter's reads like a story. The corruption of the popes is exposed, the artistic personalities are uncovered, and all the drama surrounding the most famous church in the world is discussed. I found it quite fascinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bridgette | 5/30/2011

    " A great read if you enjoy religious and art history. Highly recommend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 2/27/2011

    " this is a very interesting read on the history of the building of St. Peter's. Need to go back and look at the Basilica againn
    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ashley | 2/22/2011

    " I love this book! It's mostly about architecture if that interests you! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Abigail | 2/3/2011

    " Very interesting history of St. Peter's. Reads more like a novel so if you're not a huge fan of non-fic (like me) then you actually want to keep reading it. Lots of great backstory. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joyce | 12/18/2010

    " Interesting recap of the web of art, religion and politics. Wrapping hundreds of years of starts and stops into 8 hours (audible book) gives it something of a whip-lash effect. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pouyan | 10/28/2010

    " Excellent story telling that provides not only a gripping tale, but also insight into the development of Catholicism. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 emigrazia | 8/22/2010

    " Loved this book! Reading more like novel, it made a complex history very accessible and easy to follow. Fantastic! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pat | 8/17/2010

    " Enthralling read about the building of St. Peter's. Loved it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kerry | 7/27/2010

    " Lots of repetition between this and Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling, but worth a look. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linconter | 6/4/2010

    " An excellent telling of the clash of personalities and creative minds in the building of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. More historical than The Agony and the Ecstacy, and more breadth to the subject of the whole period it took to build it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Converse | 4/1/2010

    " Interesting on the artistic & eclesiastical politics of St. Peters (the indulgences sold to build it were what ticked off Martin Luther), but with surprisingly little about the details of construction
    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lanny | 2/1/2010

    " A fun read, but tended to be a little silly/trivial at some parts. Hard to take too seriously. "

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About the Author

R. A. Scotti is the author of three previous works of nonfiction, including Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal–Building St. Peter’s and Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938, and four novels. She lives in New York City.

About the Narrator

Josephine Bailey’s impeccable narrations include the British classics Jane Eyre and The Secret Garden. She has also used her subtly nuanced style to enliven historical fiction and light romances. She has won nine AudioFile Earphones Awards and been a finalist for the prestigious Audie Award.