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Noteworthy histories . . . briefly considered;The World of the Italian Renaissance, by E. R. Chamberlin. Winchester, Mass.: Allen & Unwin Inc. (9 Winchester Terrace, 01890). 311 pp. $17.95.

If you've ever wished for a book that surveys Italian culture at its pinnacle , a book that would jog your memory on important historical developments and help you make more sense of your surroundings while in Italy, you should peruse this one. Popularized history, yes, but it's the sort of book that interests you in its subject and whets your appetite for more. There are chapters on Rome, Florence, and Venice and a multitude of black-and-white photographs. Other chapters provide a grounding in the life of the times, from wedding ceremonies to soldiers, from popes to princes.

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