A superb book of great interest to the traveler who wants to get behind the scenes of history--to get some sense of how the nobility lived--and of the aspirations of all classes that went into the construction. Invaluable for the student of period decoration and architecture. And sheer delight for anyone interested in the subject, albeit academically. Sitwell, probably today's most informed and urbane traveler, has contributed an informative introduction, placing the ""great houses"" in the stream of history-going back to early influences and examples-even to the pleasure palace of America and the Byzantine palaces of Istanbul, and the Moorish influenced palaces of Spain. Many countries are represented:-Italy, France, Spain, England, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Russia, etc. There are palaces famous as tourist haunts,-the Villa d'Este, Isola Bella, The Nymphenburg, Chenonceau, Le Petit Trianon, Sans Souci, Blenheim, Drottingholm. And there are famous, names-in history, in the arts:-Veronese, Tiepolo, Palladio, Kent, Nash, Adam, Inigo Jones. The text accompanying each group of photographs (and what superb photographs they are, 40 in color and over 500 in black and white) is contributed by an expert in the specific period or area, with Ralph Dutton, Hugh Thomas, Anthony Hobson and Monk Gibbon most often represented. All in all one of the most beautiful and rewarding gift books of the season--and one that has value for continued sale and use.