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“Lucid, evocative, and richly detailed.”―Jay Parini, author of The Apprentice LoverThe history of southern Italy is entirely distinct from that of northern Italy, yet it has never been given its own historical due. In this authoritative and wholly engrossing history, distinguished scholar Tommaso Astarita “does a masterful job of correcting this error” (Mark Knoblauch, Booklist). From the Normans and Angevins, through Spanish and Bourbon rule, to the unification of Italy in 1860, Astarita rescues the South from the dustier folds of history and restores it to sparkling life. We are introduced to the freethinking, cosmopolitan King Frederick, who conferred with Jewish and Muslim philosophers; to Masaniello, “the fisherman of Naples,” who inspired artists and revolutionaries across Europe; and to the colorful religious observances, diverse population, ancient ruins, beautiful landscapes, sweet music, and magnificent art―all of which inspired visitors to claim that one had to “see Naples, and then die.”
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Tommaso Astarita is a professor of history at Georgetown University. He is a native Neapolitan and currently lives in Washington, DC.From Booklist:
The history of Italy tends to focus on events from Rome northward, too often giving short shift to the peculiarly named "Kingdom of the Two Sicilies." Astarita does a masterful job of correcting this error and bringing to life for English speakers the people and events of these lands so central to the entire Mediterranean basin. European by geography, the region had close ties to Africa from the time of Carthage onward. Post-Roman Empire southern Italy fell under the sway of the Normans in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and Astarita recounts the era of kings Roger I and II, who dealt with the diverse powers of the papacy and sizable Muslim populations in their realm. Astarita is at his best discussing South Italy and Sicily's social history, the roles of religion and superstition as animating forces in the populace's everyday lives. A highly readable history, this volume will be enthusiastically received wherever there are concentrations of Italian-Americans. Population tables and genealogical charts add to the text's clarity. Mark Knoblauch
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