Some months ago, I received a copy of Corrado Augias’ The Secrets of Rome: Love and Death in the Eternal City to review for this website. I will confess here that I am still not all the way through it, but I think I’ve found that is part of why I like the book. Stick with me, you’ll see what I mean.
Now, this book is not what I’d call a page-turner. It’s a history book, and very few people I know sit down and willingly read such things. But what Augias has done here is more than just recite history – he’s crafted the book in such a way that each chapter centers on a different subject, but also takes meandering routes to get there. What’s more, those routes often feel more like he’s giving you a walking tour of Rome than of history. You really feel as if you want to be walking through Rome’s streets as he talks about them, pointing out buildings or points of historical interest, so you can experience what he’s talking about.
Another thing I like about this book is that it talks about more than just the history of Ancient Rome, which is what many people think of when they think of Roman history. Of course, there was a city on that site before the Roman Empire existed, and there’s been a city ever since the Empire collapsed as well. Augias weaves centuries of Roman history together in each chapter, so you really get a feel for the way the different eras of this amazing city interacted with one another – often without realizing it.
Finally, back to the last thing I like about the book – that I’m not through with it. Part of it is that I simply don’t have time for much reading these days, but the other part is that I realized the beauty of this book is that it’s not linear. Despite being a history book, it doesn’t begin at one point in time and move forward from there – it jumps around, back and forth through time, and each chapter deals with a different topic. So, really, you can pick the book up and read any chapter that interests you on its own without worrying that you’re missing something. For a history book, I think that’s quite interesting.
So, while I can’t say that I’d recommend The Secrets of Rome: Love and Death in the Eternal City to just anyone, if you’re interested in Roman history or just want more than the average tour guide to the city, it’s a well-written homage to a city Augias clearly loves.
Check out some of the other Italy-related books I’ve read and reviewed, too.
Full Disclosure & Whatnot: Just so y’know, the publisher sent me a copy of this book for review purposes.