Audiobook Review: Rise and Fall of the Borgias by William Landon #NonfictionNovember

Posted November 26, 2021 by Stephanie in 3 Stars, History, Nonfiction, nonfiction november, Review / 12 Comments

Title: Rise and Fall of the Borgias
Author: William Landon
Publication: November 19th 2019 by Audible Original
Genre: Nonfiction, History
Find it on: Audible
Rating: 3/5

Since its rise to the highest ranks of power in Renaissance Europe, the Borgia family has developed a scandalous reputation. While they were indeed ostentatious, calculating, worldly, cruel—and even, occasionally, murderous—listeners may be surprised to find that the Borgias were not terribly different from other powerful and ambitious families of their day. So why has history set them apart as one of the most corrupt and reviled families in history?

In the Rise and Fall of the Borgias, listeners will spend 10 revealing lectures untangling the web of rumors, speculation, and historical embellishment from what is actually known about the infamous Roman family. With Dr. William Landon, listeners will explore the historical context that helped the Borgias make their fortune and better understand how they could be both magnanimous and ruthless, pious and morally suspect.

The story of the Borgias is rich with intrigue, even without the fictional enhancement it has received from the numerous films, novels, and television shows that have been created based on the family’s notoriety. Dr. Landon introduces listeners to the major players and lays bare their machinations to reach the highest offices of church and state. Were their exploits as salacious as listeners have been led to believe? Did they manipulate the papacy for their own gain? Are the rumors of incest, bribery, political assassinations, and other morally questionable behaviors true or the stuff of historical gossip?

As listeners explore these and other rumors surrounding the Borgias, they will pull back the curtain on the historian’s craft and see how the story of this Renaissance dynasty has been shaped over time and how new research and a healthy dose of skepticism has allowed us to get a little closer to the truth—without losing any of the drama.

©2019 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC

This was a very concise and adequate rundown of the rise and fall of the Borgias. At 4 hours and 58 mins it’s an audiobook that can be listened to quite easily. I took my time with it and even I finished it on less than three days. It was an enlightening and interesting read but just not the best of Audible’s Great Courses series.

I’m sure most people have heard about the infamous Borgia family, especially those who love the Renaissance era as much as I do. They have a shocking and rather shameful reputation. There’s even a pretty popular tv show about it. I’ve seen a couple of episodes of it but not all the way through. With that said, William Landon who’s written and narrated this book, took us back in time with this course to see where the family began and ended as well as to determine which myths about the Borgias were right and which were just made up by their enemies to tarnish the family name.

I enjoyed this audiobook for sure. But like I said before it just isn’t the best I’ve ever listened to. It was nice to learn the beginnings of the Borgias, where they came from and all that but I just wish the course had gone just a tad deeper into it all. It just stayed right above the surface, if that makes any sense. I also wished there would’ve been a little bit more about the women in the Borgias lives, whether or not they were family or just mistresses. There was a chapter about Lucrezia Borgia but that was near the end and I couldn’t help but wonder about the other women in the family. I know not a lot may have been known about them but still!

So would I recommend this book? Yes. But only to those who don’t know a lot about the Borgia family and would like an introduction to them. If any reader is looking for that then this would be the perfect audiobook but for those who want something deeper then this is not it.


12 responses to “Audiobook Review: Rise and Fall of the Borgias by William Landon #NonfictionNovember

  1. verushka

    I immediately thought of the show when i read this — i honestly didn’t think they were a real family until now.

  2. I honestly don’t know much about The Borgias – except that there’s a show – so this may be more fitting for people like me like who need an intro, like you said. Sorry it wasn’t a phenomenal read for you though, hope you’ll enjoy your next read about this topic more!

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