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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (522 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Christopher Hibbert Narrator: John Telfer Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The first major biography of the Borgias in thirty years, Christopher Hibbert’s latest history brings to life the family and the world they lived in: the glittering Rome of the Italian Renaissance.

The name Borgia is synonymous with the corruption, nepotism, and greed that were rife in Renaissance Italy. The powerful, voracious Rodrigo Borgia, better known to history as Pope Alexander VI, was the central figure of the dynasty. Two of his seven papal offspring also rose to power and fame—his daughter Lucrezia and her brother Cesare, who murdered Lucrezia’s husband and served as the model for Machiavelli’s The Prince. The Borgias were notorious for seizing power, wealth, land, and titles through bribery, marriage, and murder. The story of the family’s dramatic rise from its Spanish roots to the highest position in Italian society is an absorbing tale.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Simply unputdown-able.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “[A] vivid chronicle of the notoriously corrupt Renaissance family…Hibbert ably traces the web of alliances through which the Spanish-born Alexander hoped to secure his hold on Italy and his family’s place in power.”

    New Yorker

  • “Acclaimed British historian Hibbert’s latest work focuses on three members of the notorious Borgia family of Spain…The book is a heavily researched and generally engrossing account of a famous dynasty…[with] detailed descriptions of Renaissance life.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “[A] straightforward, carefully researched narrative…Hibbert’s unsensationalized account of sensational material makes a fascinating read. Recommended for all public and college libraries.”

    Library Journal

  • “The author recounts the exploits of the notorious crime family headed by Rodrigo Borgia, also known as Pope Alexander VI. Their savagery and ambition knew no bounds. John Telfer tells their story with frightening clarity. It could be argued that the Borgias were a product of their time, but they seem to be too evil, or too insane, even for the era of the Italian Renaissance. The infamous Lucrezia Borgia, whom history has branded a coldhearted killer, herein comes off the most innocent. Telfer manages to imbue the characters with humanity despite their flaws.”


Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Bruce MacBain | 2/19/2014

    " I read this because I've been watching "The Borgias" on Showtime (they just started the third season) and wanted to refresh my memory of the history. The book is okay--although, incredibly, it lacks illustrations or even a single map! But the text does an adequate job of presenting that fun-loving family. In case you're interested, the TV show bears only a glancing resemblance to what really happened and the real Pope Alexander VI looked nothing like Jeremy Irons. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Rob Atkinson | 2/2/2014

    " A rather straightforward and unsensational history of one of history's most scandalous families, this work provides a good if basic overview of the careers of Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) and his children, particularly Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia. The infamous reputations of the former two are largely confirmed, with devious deal-making, murder, theft, simony and licentiousness aplenty. Nevertheless, the Borgia Pope did prove a wily navigator of the tricky terrain of Italian politics, successfully maintaining the Church's lands and power amidst the dangerous military tug of war between France/Milan and Spanish-ruled Naples. And after his son Cesare left his nepotistic position of Cardinal, he proved to be something of a military genius, bringing the family's enemies to heel and briefly establishing one of Italy's greatest domains in the Duchy of the Romagna, of which he was made Duke. The chief surprise here is Hibbert's account of Lucrezia, who comes across much more sympathetically than I might have expected, based on her reputation. There is no hint of her being complicit in any poisonings, and her worst crime -- putting aside the unsubstantiated rumors of incest with her brothers, and even her father the Pope(!) -- seems to have been her sexual affairs and a resulting child out of wedlock, evidently fathered by one of the Pope's grooms. Otherwise, she seems very much the model Renaissance woman, intelligent, well-educated and capable, both gracious and graceful, and quite beautiful besides. Such were her talents that she would govern in the stead of her father the Pope when he was absent from Rome, and would later do likewise for her last husband, the Duke of Ferrara. This portrayal is a bit hard to reconcile with the 'Lucrezia Borgia' of legend, and I wonder if Donizetti's opera (with which I'm admittedly unfamiliar) did for her reputation what Shakespeare's "Richard III" did, creating a legendary monster of its subject, perhaps unfairly. I picked this up after watching the first two seasons of Showtime's "The Borgias", curious to see how many of the teleplay's extraordinary events had a basis in fact. The answer is: apparently, not a great deal. The show plays very fast and loose with the chronology, invents many episodes altogether, substitutes one historical character for another or subsumes several into one, and while its portrayal of the principals is generally true to their character, it appears the scriptwriters feel free to invent much. It's a wildly entertaining soap opera set in a fascinating place and time, but don't mistake it for history. To a lesser degree, "The Tudors" was guilty of taking the same license. For those interested in the true story, this is a good place to start. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Eric Zulueta | 1/21/2014

    " A very interesting romp through history.. particularly that of Italy and the Vatican in the early 16Th Century. The author takes pains to provide a background of the political andecclesiastical climate of the time and how the Borgias lived through this tumultuous period. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Sara | 1/14/2014

    " I couldn't find the time to finish it. It was a bit convoluted to follow for someone who didn't already know anything about this chapter in history, but it might have been good if I could have soldiered on through it a bit farther. "

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