The greatest living chronicler of Venetian history brings to life the city's magical charm in a beautifully illustrated and captivating book. John Julius Norwich, the author of the acclaimedA History of Venice, traces the transformation of Venice from a proud independent state into a dazzling dreamscape that attracted artists, writers, and composers from around the world. In a strikingly effective departure from straight narrative history, he tells the story of Venice through the experiences and reactions of such famous nineteenth-century visitors as Napoleon Bonaparte, Lord Byron, John Ruskin, Henry James, Richard Wagner, James Whistler, and Robert Browning. Written with brio and humor, the profiles capture the incomparable charms of Venice--and the quirks of these historic figures as they discover (or fail to discover) them. Napoleon, having achieved the conquest that had thwarted other forces for a thousand years, was totally indifferent to the glories of his prize. The almost comically lascivious Byron seduced nearly every woman in Venice until he had the misfortune of falling in love with one of them, and the prim Ruskin obsessively sketched every architectural detail for his seminal book,The Stones of Venice, even as his comely wife grew weary of his celibacy. Wagner worked onTristan und Isoldein Venice, and Whistler painted his greatest masterpieces there. Like Peter Ackroyd's much-praisedLondon, Paradise of Citiesis at once a fascinating history, a matchless travel guide, and a wonderful gift book. Filled with vintage photographs and full-color reproductions of period paintings, it conveys both the misfortune of Venice's decline and the magnificence of its eternal beauty. It is as magical, as colorful, and as irresistible as its subject.