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The siege of Venice in 1848 is one of history's most thrilling and tragic episodes. After half a century of Habsburg imperial rule, the Venetians drove out the occupying army and established their own republic. Led by the Jewish lawyer Daniele Manin, a man of immense courage and personal integrity, they embraced the lofty values of the Risorgimento, Italy's struggle for national unity, freedom and justice. When the Austrians returned with a massive army, intent on recapturing Venice, Manin rejected their surrender demands. The city braced itself for a siege lasting more than a year, ending only when bombardment, cholera and starvation made further resistance impossible.
This epic story, in Jonathan Keates's gripping and meticulously-researched account, embraces the wider world of the revolutionary Italy of Garibaldi, Mazzini and Pope Pius IX, warrior priests, militant actresses, death-or-glory poets, a Mata Hari-type siren spy and a rebel princess. At the centre of the whole crowded canvas, however, stand the truest heroes of all - the people of Venice. Their grit, humour and endurance, under a hail of bombs and a tide of blood sweeping across their once peaceful lagoon, make The Siege of Venice a profoundly touching and unforgettable book.