I have loved some of Ross King’s non-fiction books, including Brunelleschi’s Dome, Michelangelo And The Pope’s Ceiling, and Leonardo and the Last Supper. They are well researched, well written, and just fun to read. And now Brunelleschi’s Dome is on sale at Kindle US for $1.99. It’s about the construction during the 1400s of the dome (Il Duomo) atop Florence’s Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, which was for many years, the largest dome in the world. This may not sound too exciting, but it is!
Brunelleschi’s Dome was the first of King’s books that I read, and I was especially intrigued by his descriptions of the engineering that went into building the dome. This includes what is possibly the earliest known use of a reversible gear, in the hoist that hauled building materials up to the top. This turned out to be essentially the world’s first “clutch”, and allowed the hoist’s platform to go either up or down without having to take the time to un-hitch and reverse the oxen that were plodding around in a circle to power it. And since oxen can be a bit cranky (per King), not needing to reposition them with every load up or down was a big time saver. (I’m doing a terrible job of describing it – you’ll just have to read Chapter 7 in the book…) But don’t think Brunelleschi’s Dome will be boring just because I liked the engineering – there’s also a lot of history, cut-throat competition, and political intrigue to liven things up! And for $1.99, it’s cheap to give it a try.
Buy at Kindle US