The author has certainly accomplished what he set out to do, "The purpose of this book is twofold: to provide a comprehensive discussion of the principal paths of architectural development, but also to put the buildings into their physical, historical and social context. Venice's architectural histoy is incomprehensible without some appreciation of its political and historical origins and its urban development. The question I am asked far more frequently than any other, in discussing Venice's architectural history, 'Why was the city built here at all?'. The second question, equally invariably, is 'How was it built?' (from the introduction)
The book is obviously the careful work of a historian with both great love and understanding of his subject. The writing is often rather dense,
but the material is fascinating, the reader is rewarded with the pleasure obtained from reading good, balanced scholarship, while gaining knowledge and understanding of the architectural history of Venice.
The reader should know, however, that this is not a general/comprehensive history of the city, the author has wisely elected to approach his subject in a topical rather than chronological manor. He prefers to concentrate on significant examples rather than produce a comprehensive but shallow history. The reader would cirtainly benefit from first reading one of the many general political/social/cultural histories of Venice.
The book meets or exceeds the high production values typical of Phaidon Press Limited. The text is generously supported with innumerable color and b&w reproductions of artwork, plans, maps and contemporary photographs.