Nicholas Walton

Genoa, 'La Superba'

The Rise and Fall of a Merchant Pirate Superpower

Hurst 2015

New Books in European StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & Society January 19, 2016 Marshall Poe

Italians have a reputation for being rather, well, ineffectual. Everyone ‘knows’ that Italian trains don’t run on time unless Italy is ruled by a...

Italians have a reputation for being rather, well, ineffectual. Everyone ‘knows’ that Italian trains don’t run on time unless Italy is ruled by a bald, bombastic, bully. And of course historians will tell youthat they didn’t even run on time then. The food is excellent, the scenery marvelous, the weather wonderful. Italians know how to live and they’ve got a great place to do it. But they just aren’t very tough, or so the story goes.

Except for the Genoese. As Nicholas Walton points out in his page-turning, story-filled history Genoa, ‘La Superba’: The Rise and Fall of a Merchant Pirate Superpower (Hurst, 2015), the residents of this hard-scrabble Mediterranean port evolved a sort of un-Italian, hard-scrabble character. The Genoese are tough, hard as the rocks that make up the Genoese landscape. This isn’t to say they aren’t generous, kind and loving. That they are. But they are also tough-minded and perhaps a little cunning. The Genoese will get it done, find a way, make it work, and might just take your lunch money if you’re not careful. As Walton shows, they always have. His terrific history suggests they always will. Read the book!

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