The orphans of the heart seek Italy said Byron. Today, apparently, there must be an awful lot of them, judging by the numerous volumes devoted to Italy or related subjects which keep coming off the presses. Professor Crow's historical portrait, quite different from Luigi Barzini's chic current best-seller, is primarily devoted to Ancient Rome and the medieval and Renaissance periods. It's a long, panoramic account, intricate in scholarship, warmly, perhaps excessively, appreciative. It is not a complex work, however, nor a particularly subtle one. The assessment of Etruscan and Grecian influences, of the various wars, rival governments and cities, of the famous statesmen, poets, and artists and so forth- all these matters (each of which really demands book-length treatment) are organized in a kaleidoscopic manner, so that the flavor, the excitement of Italian history comes across remarkably well, as does its crucial relationship both to European and American culture. Crow delineates with great charm the different worlds of Rome, Venice and Florence, the religious impulse behind Dante or Michelangelo, and the birth of the humanist spirit, later to flower into the 19th century Risorgimento of Mazzini and Garibaldi. But it must be said too many questions are left unanswered; the Italy of Professor Crow is tantalizing, lush and lively, but never profound. He was better with Spain.