Let's not confuse this work with pop histories or superficial glosses of history. This beautifully designed scholarly book is a highly detailed telling of what southern Italy has endured in the past 2000+ years. The story is quite complex. Lots of peoples have wanted to conquer this territory, for its grain, for its beauty, for its shores, and for its resources. Arabs, Spaniards, Germans, Greeks, and Normans have all left their footprints in the rich soil, and if one visits, one can still witness traces of this varied history there. To unravel all the kings, queens, barons, dukes, religious influences, cultural influences, and economic upturns and downturns is an undertaking requiring the reader's patience and quiet contemplation. The author, Tommaso Astarita, has done an excellent job in giving us the details. After reading this book, one can never quite think of this beautiful region in the same way again. Rather, as any good history does, this work changes our perception of the landscape, and we now remember and visualize its long struggles, the blood that's been shed, the plagues that have come and gone, and the hard endurance of its people. If you are not prepared to immerse yourself in scholarly details and complex writing, this book isn't for you. But if you want to truly understand southern Italy's history, you've come to the right place.