A Short History
By Paul Johnson
(Modern Library, Paperback, 9780812966190, 208pp.)
Publication Date: August 6, 2002
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The Renaissance holds an undying place in our imagination, its great heroes still our own, from Michelangelo and Leonardo to Dante and Chaucer. This period of profound evolution in European thought is credited with transforming the West from medieval to modern and producing the most astonishing outpouring of artistic creation the world has ever known. But what was it? In this masterly work, the incomparable Paul Johnson tells us. He explains the economic, technological, and social developments that provide a backdrop to the age’s achievements and focuses closely on the lives and works of its most important figures. A commanding short narrative of this vital period, The Renaissance is also a universally profound meditation on the wellsprings of innovation.
Paul Johnson is a leading historian and journalist whose historical works have been national bestsellers and translated into many languages. Among his books are Modern Times, A History of the Jews, Intellectuals, The Birth of the Modern, and A History of the American People. He lives in London.
“This wee book packs more information, insight, and historical perspective than do most volumes many times its length.” —Forbes
“Abound[s] in interesting detail and idiosyncratic judgment.” —The New York Times
“Mr. Johnson does not reduce the art and literature of this immensely rich period to mere by-products of the European economy. . . . His concise and entertaining survey is a reminder that the most sublime accomplishments of civilization also depend on the mundane.” —The Wall Street Journal
“[Johnson’s] reputation for capacious erudition precedes him, and it is no surprise that he turns in a vibrant summary of the era’s eruption of art.” —Booklist