by Ross King
March 2002 marks the 566th year that the largest brick and mortar dome in the world was completed in Florence, Italy by the masterful Filippo Brunelleschi. The dome atop the church of Santa Maria del Fiore remains one of the greatest achievements of structural engineering and architectural acumen, with an engaging history of it's construction related in the pages of this engrossing book. In short, no one could figure out how to vault the massive dome until Brunelleschi proposed a plan that would win him the competition for it's construction in 1418, and has since been recognized as an architectural innovation of major proportions. Within the story of the dome's construction exist the intrigue of Brunelleschi's intense rivalries with other artisans, his staggering personal setbacks and failures, and the realities of completing this massive project in the midst of wars which the Florentines engaged in with rival Italian city-states. A read to make you appreciate the power of beautiful architecture.
Reviewed by East San José Carnegie Library staff member Arturo Villaseñor