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Extended Audio Sample Venice: Pure City Audiobook, by Peter Ackroyd Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (264 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Peter Ackroyd Narrator: Simon Vance Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2010 ISBN: 9781400187935
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The Venetians' language and way of thinking set them aside from the rest of Italy. They are an island people, linked to the sea and to the tides rather than the land. This latest work from the incomparable Peter Ackroyd, like a magic gondola, transports its listeners to that sensual and surprising city. His account embraces facts and romance, conjuring up the atmosphere of the canals, bridges, and sunlit squares, the churches and the markets, the festivals and the flowers. He leads us through the history of the city, from the first refugees arriving in the mists of the lagoon in the fourth century to the rise of a great mercantile state and its trading empire, the wars against Napoleon, and the tourist invasions of today. Everything is here: the merchants on the Rialto and the Jews in the ghetto; the glassblowers of Murano; the carnival masks and the sad colonies of lepers; the artists-Bellini, Titian, Tintoretto, Tiepolo; and the ever-present undertone of Venice's shadowy corners and dead ends, of prisons and punishment, wars and sieges, scandals and seductions. Ackroyd's Venice: Pure City is a study of Venice much in the vein of his lauded London: The Biography. Like London, Venice is a fluid, writerly exploration organized around a number of themes. History and context are provided in each chapter, but Ackroyd's portrait of Venice is a particularly novelistic one, both beautiful and rapturous. We could have no better guide-enjoying Venice: Pure City is, in itself, a glorious journey to the ultimate city. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Ackroyd—the marvelously erudite and staggeringly industrious English writer—[has compiled] an encyclopedic amount of general and arcane factual information and then [arranged] it less chronologically than thematically—much as one might encounter it in the course of a long walk over fascinating terrain in the company of a knowledgeable but never pedantic companion. It’s an experience rendered all the more agreeable by the independent turn of Ackroyd’s critical imagination and lapidary quality of his prose.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • A loving yet clear-eyed celebration of the enigmatic icon on the Adriatic. Kirkus
  • “Peter Ackroyd fully explores one of the world’s most undeniably glorious cities…Like his acclaimed London, Ackroyd’s account isn’t a chronological history of this charming Italian metropolis. The structure and style of Venice is engagingly impressionistic and digressive…Magnificently crafted.”

    Boston Globe

  • "[Venice: Pure City] is a swarm—a storm—of dazzling details that coalesce into an artful picture…Ackroyd’s is a glittering introduction to Venice. There is not much new that can be said about the city, but Ackroyd says it with ripeness - like those Venetian pears, only now it is the reader’s appetite that is whetted. Godspeed.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tom Torkelson | 2/14/2014

    " If you're not reeeealy interested in Venice, don't even pick it up. I've never read a "history" that was compiled so erratically; not chronological or thematic, just kind of wandering around repeating itself over and over and over. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 1/21/2014

    " Ackroyd is a lush, expansive writer and his main theory, that the geography and political situation of Venice, surrounded by water and set between the West and the East has been decisive in the development of its particular culture and form of government is a very beguiling one. There's a true cornucopia of information in this book, it pours out in a glittering mass that enchants and instructs, but it isn't always situated in history very precisely, there is no timeline to give the whole thing a thread that runs through. He does divide it into various parts but they are not terribly clear-cut categories: Commerce and Trade are surely interchangeable, and what does The Living City convey? Well, it ain't dead, that's for sure. In the end I felt he was going round and round and then coming back to where he'd started: absolutely! typical of anyone's walking experience in that most labyrinthine of cities, but not how I want to read a book for information. Oi'll give it severn. (Brummie accent) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maura | 1/15/2014

    " Did the audio version while driving to DC and all I could see was Venice ahead of me. Waiting to return to this beautiful city. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kathy | 1/11/2014

    " What a pity Peter Ackroyd doesn't have anything interesting or original to say about Venice. This is just a series of seemingly unrelated and unsubstantiated assertions, without the benefit of any argument or evidence. Poor. I, too, could make far-reaching and sweeping generalisations about Venice, but why would I? And who would believe me? I don't believe Peter Ackroyd and I don't know why any publisher felt that there was a need for this book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lindsay | 1/9/2014

    " I was really excited to read Venice, but was sorely disappointed. It was too long, disorganized, fragmented and boring. Ackroyd gave no context for the information; if I hadn't been there, I wouldn't have known what he was talking about half the time. I was planning to read his book on London, but I'm reconsidering. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marisa Adair | 1/5/2014

    " An interesting and very detailed insight into what makes Venice so unique.. I did not enjoy this as much as the critics did. I found it full of historical facts, but somewhat lacking in heart and passion. The writing didnt seem to do justice to this most sensual of cities. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Leah Gordon | 1/1/2014

    " First book by Ackroyd - an glut of information that seduces for a couple of chapters then dissolves into gloopy water of detail "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Clea Simon | 12/2/2013

    " So far so good! Loving the history. Always enjoy Akroyd's writing and he's writing about a beautiful city that I have loved visiting. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sara | 11/26/2013

    " My God, does this book need a good editor. The repetition, the contradictions (even within 3 pages of each other) were infuriating. Not to mention, Ackroyd hangs onto his beloved London and seems to unconsciously compare everything, in this case, Venice, to his beloved country of origin....but it is never stated. (Read his London book and one can see the difference.) Granted I am biased towards my love of Venice, but nonetheless I learned very little from this book that I didn't already know from other books of Venice. Overall, way too long in need of a slash and burn edit. In addition some genuine passion for the book's subject would have done wonders to make this worthwhile reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jan Vranken | 11/16/2013

    " Fascinating book - and not only for lovers of Venice. Everyone interested in urban studies should read this book about what really is the prototype of the autonomous European city. And - as always is the case with Ackroyd - very well written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathryn | 11/5/2013

    " This book covers everything there is to know about Venice, from archetecture, music, art, lierature, history, attitudes, politics, etc. Since I have been to the city three times, I found this book most interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen | 9/27/2013

    " Not a day passes that I don't dream of going back to Venice. This book fuels that desire. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Becca Roberts | 8/20/2013

    " There were a number of interesting parts, but it seemed a bit contradictory at times. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Judith Roumani | 7/25/2013

    " A beautifully written book, with fascinating historical details, a wonderful poetic style "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alina Trigger | 7/19/2013

    " Quite a tome. A bit fanciful at times, but the topic suits Ackroyd's rich style "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kl | 5/19/2013

    " This was a very interesting book. I learned so much about Venice. Such a tumultuous culture. I loved learning about the people, the government, the industry. It covered so much, though. I will definitely revisit it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Megan | 4/4/2013

    " I can tell the man is smart but I am so sick of him telling me how to interpret the facts. He's not generous, he's a show-off who believes he truly understands the SOUL OF VENICE. Maybe he does, but he's making me begrudge him the fact. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Peter Blunden | 3/13/2013

    " An excellent history which got a bit lost in its structure and tended to go around in circles "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Blake Charlton | 3/5/2013

    " well researched but wondering, loose associations offered in place of logical analysis. a struggle to finish. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Catherine | 2/4/2013

    " Interesting and a bit hypnotic. It's easy to skim to the dull parts. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Zoë Bleasdale | 2/2/2013

    " I read this book while I was staying in Venice. I love reading all the history then going to see the places, Venice is my favourite city in the world and if your interested in it too then you should definitely read this book "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Beth | 8/3/2012

    " If you are going to write a biography of a city with 1500 years of history but only use sources in English that are no more than 200 years old, you are going to write a shallow book. Lazy. Worse is referring to Hagia Sophia as "saint sophia" - basic ignorance of key points of your topic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Liliana | 7/11/2012

    " A good, solid, academic read. After reading this, I really understand the Venetian psyche. My only gripe is that I didn't catch the transition of "just-barely-settled Venice" to "Venice-with-clout." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caro | 10/18/2011

    " Organized by theme rather than chronologically, which I enjoyed. Beautifully read but a bit long and dense, I must admit I daydreamed through some of it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lucy Gray | 3/16/2011

    " Read this book after reading about Borgia family. I was interested for about the first half of the book and then I started to struggle. It did seem a bit repetitive about some of the facts. However, it was good to read some non fiction and history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Judith | 2/24/2011

    " A beautifully written book, with fascinating historical details, a wonderful poetic style "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marisa | 1/28/2011

    " An interesting and very detailed insight into what makes Venice so unique.. I did not enjoy this as much as the critics did. I found it full of historical facts, but somewhat lacking in heart and passion. The writing didnt seem to do justice to this most sensual of cities. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle | 1/23/2011

    " Interesting history of Venice, organized by topic not chronogically. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Liliana | 1/15/2011

    " A good, solid, academic read. After reading this, I really understand the Venetian psyche. My only gripe is that I didn't catch the transition of "just-barely-settled Venice" to "Venice-with-clout." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kl | 12/28/2010

    " This was a very interesting book. I learned so much about Venice. Such a tumultuous culture. I loved learning about the people, the government, the industry. It covered so much, though. I will definitely revisit it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Clea | 11/8/2010

    " So far so good! Loving the history. Always enjoy Akroyd's writing and he's writing about a beautiful city that I have loved visiting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Catherine | 11/4/2010

    " Interesting and a bit hypnotic. It's easy to skim to the dull parts. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Peter | 1/25/2010

    " An excellent history which got a bit lost in its structure and tended to go around in circles "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alina | 12/2/2009

    " Quite a tome. A bit fanciful at times, but the topic suits Ackroyd's rich style "

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About the Author
Author Peter Ackroyd

Peter Ackroyd has written acclaimed biographies of T. S. Eliot, Dickens, Blake, and Sir Thomas More, as well as several successful novels. He has won the Whitbread Book Award for Biography, the Royal Society of Literature’s W. H. Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the South Bank Show Award for Literature.

About the Narrator

Simon Vance (a.k.a. Robert Whitfield) is an award-winning actor and an AudioFile Golden Voice with over forty Earphones Awards. He has won thirteen prestigious Audie Awards and was Booklist’s very first Voice of Choice in 2008. He has narrated more than eight hundred audiobooks over almost thirty years, beginning when he was a radio newsreader for the BBC in London.