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Tilt: A Skewed History of the Tower of Pisa

Author : Shrady, Nicholas


In Tilt, author Nicholas Shrady reveals how the campanile, or bell tower, in Pisa’s Campo dei Miracoli became the iconic Tower of Pisa. Even standing straight and true, the tower’s marble & lime facade would be instantly recognizable the world over. Yet its distinctive tilt, which measured 1.6 degrees from vertical when construction was completed in 1370, has long been a mystery. Was it the result of shoddy workmanship or the brainchild of a hunchback maestro who skewed the tower to avenge his own condition? Nearly a millennium since its construction, the tower still stands (more than 4 meters–5 degrees–askew) in defiance of logic, gravity & soaring odds–a mute witness to history as it has unfolded. Envisioned as a display of wealth & power in Pisa’s medieval heyday, the tower was revolutionary in its design. Architectural sleight of hand lent the campanile the appearance of weightlessness even as it supported seven colossal bronze bells. Technical achievements & rare beauty aside, it’s the tower’s glaring folly that has attracted legions of admirers & would-be saviors–even as it alarmed engineers. In addition to having defied the known laws of physics, the tower’s cylindrical masonry has concealed a storied past. Galileo was said to have launched his experiments on the velocity of falling bodies from atop its heights. Lord Byron, the Shelleys & their Romantics frolicked in its listing shadow. Benito Mussolini tried to right the tower by ordering that cement be injected into its foundation. During WWII, the “Tiltin’ Hilton” was a suspected enemy hideout & narrowly escaped being bombed. Following a $30 million stabilization & restoration effort lasting more than a decade & into the 21st century, Pisa’s Leaning Tower has been preserved for the ages as an architectural marvel & paragon of modern tourism. Tilt encapsulates the tower’s singular history in a hugely entertaining & informative narrative, by turns learned & whimsical, reverent & surprising. Here’s a “biography” that, like its subject, is all the more delightful for its thoro improbability. It’s a celebration of inspired vision & human machinations, of supreme ambition & spiritual enlightenment, of science & superstition, of faith & miracles.

In stock
Format : Paperback
Condition : Very Good
Edition : Reprint
Publisher : Penguin Books
Date Published : 2004
ISBN : 0143034502
ISBN13 : 9780143034506

1 in stock