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Between Salt Water And Holy Water Paperback – Jun 5 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton; 1 edition (Aug. 8 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393328678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393328677
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 549 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,322,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Booklist

The history of Italy tends to focus on events from Rome northward, too often giving short shift to the peculiarly named "Kingdom of the Two Sicilies." Astarita does a masterful job of correcting this error and bringing to life for English speakers the people and events of these lands so central to the entire Mediterranean basin. European by geography, the region had close ties to Africa from the time of Carthage onward. Post-Roman Empire southern Italy fell under the sway of the Normans in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and Astarita recounts the era of kings Roger I and II, who dealt with the diverse powers of the papacy and sizable Muslim populations in their realm. Astarita is at his best discussing South Italy and Sicily's social history, the roles of religion and superstition as animating forces in the populace's everyday lives. A highly readable history, this volume will be enthusiastically received wherever there are concentrations of Italian-Americans. Population tables and genealogical charts add to the text's clarity. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"In the words of Anthony Grafton: 'This wonderful book offers the best introduction in any language to a complex and fascinating region. Southern Italy baffles, enchants and sometimes enrages foreigners - including most northern Italians! Tommaso Astarita's wide-ranging book sets the Fascinating and sometimes frightening society and culture of the South into the centuries of historical context that have shaped them and set them apart from the rest of Italy - and Europe.'" London Review of Books * "Astarita has produced an accessible and compelling history of an oft-ignored region." BBC History Magazine * "Lucid, evocative, and richly detailed." Jay Parini"

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa7d827b0) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa76a14ec) out of 5 stars Highly Respectable Scholary Work Feb. 22 2006
By John Sollami - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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.
33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa76a1540) out of 5 stars History of Naples, not Southern Italy Jan. 18 2006
By enzozne - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was born in southern Italy so I was interested in this book because part of its title is "A History of Southern Italy". But it is far more accurate to describe it as a history of Naples with a few skimpy references to areas south of Naples to Messina. Naples is the heart and soul of this book, but then what can one expect of its writer who is described on the inside jacket as "Native Neopolitan". His love of Naples and its history is evident throughout. There is hardly a page where there's not endless mentions of Naples. For example, between p.268 and p.273 there are 33 mentions of "Naples" and "Neopolitan". Naples is not Southern Italy and Southern Italy is not Naples. If you are looking for a book on "A History of Southern Italy" this is not the book.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa76a181c) out of 5 stars Understanding Southern Italy Sept. 18 2005
By Travel Diva - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This was a book to start learn more of the traditions, history, and politics which shaped the character of the Southern Italian people. Remeber that this is a history book, so at times it's not an easy read. But as it is difficult to find detailed information about Southern Italy, this provides some useful data. The focus is mainly on Naples and Sicily and only gives glimpses of other areas (Calabria, Puglia, etc.).
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa76a1d38) out of 5 stars History of Italy's new destinaion June 22 2012
By dwinps - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mario Batali predicted Naples would be the next hot destination for travellers. Well, it hasn't quite worked out that way BUT, Naples and the entire Campania region are becoming more and more popular...deservedly so. If you love Italian food as reinterpreted throughout the US (mostly by families from this area BTW) this is the place to visit for the real thing. If you love history, this is the place to visit...there are ruins near Naples (and of course Pompeii) which trump anything anywhere.
Or if you want to just kick back in one of the most beautiful settings anywhere in the world...well, Capri, Amalfi, Positano have been destinations for film stars as well as the hoi poloi for years...they and their neighbors have it all.

And if you want to know how and why its like it is...this is easily the best, most readible (and un-sentimentalized)book on the subject. An essential for a lover of Southern Italy. DW
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa76a1600) out of 5 stars Beautifully conceptualized, interestingly written June 25 2007
By Carlacara - Published on
Verified Purchase
I have been so delighted with this book I have nearly worn out the cover reading and rereading it. Until this book and another by a different author came out during the same year (2005) there was practically nothing meaningful about the history and development of Southern Italy available in English. This author has integrated the history, culture,art, music, literature of the region and sprinkled it with charming details and insights. This is not a travel guide or a book to be picked up lightly, but anyone interested in learning about that particular region of Italy will be well-served by this text. I have given it as a gift and consider it among my favorites.

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