- Hardcover: 367 pages
- Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd (October 1970)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0500250278
- ISBN-13: 978-0500250273
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,119,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
And you can tell the author is English, because of his obvious admiration for the English Condottiere John Hawkwood, a.k.a. Giovanni Acuto, a.k.a. Jean de l'Aiguille. But Italian condottieri are not forgotten: Sforza father and son, Braccio, Carmagnola, Malatesta, Montefeltro, Colleoni, Gattamelata and others, ending with Giovanni delle Bande Nere in the 16th Century. And all political figures of the times are present: the Visconti, the Florentines, the Popes, the Aragonese and Angevins Kings of Naples, for whom the Condottieri fought. There are many illustrations, almost one per page, usually representing historical characters in contemporary artworks (statues, paintings, frescoes, coins...)
The book is for the general reader, not for the professional historian. Trease's narrative make it a fascinating read, despite the rather repetitive and complicated list of treachery and backstabbing. It is not a scholarly work: the bibliography is short, almost no primary sources are mentioned and you will not find a discussion of available sources, nor the laundry list of Francesco Sforza.
On the negative side, the author describes the historical events in a purely factual, almost naive way, and does not attempt to understand the motivation and aspirations of the man of the Quattrocento. The book is written like an adventure novel, and, in my humble opinion, it fails to convey the passionate and cruel nature of the times (even if it describes it). But I enjoyed it a lot.