Few political personages, either in Italy or elsewhere in eighteenth and nineteenth century Europe, are omitted from this distended but salubrious study of the Risorgimento. Martin, whose books on opera have been praised for their historical acumen, demonstrates his insight into global affairs as well as his belief that politics is often dominated by the personality quirks of people in power. Starting with the accession of Ferdinando, he runs through the Hapsburgs, the eight Italian kingdoms, foreign domination, and cultural bursts, arriving finally at analysis-of-the motivations, influences, and actions of the patriots who brought about Italy's unification in 1870. Headnotes to each chapter prepare the reader for global complications, and the capsule summaries characterize such diverse figures as Maria Theresa and Mazzini, Ferdinando and his wife, Pio Nono and Cavour. Possibly more about the European spectrum than the topic requires -- but all a spectacular parade.