Venice has often been the subject of fine photographic and artistic studies but this is- in this reader's opinion- the best combination of history with the cultural importance of Venice and good photographs that has crossed her desk. And it should be accepted in this role rather than as either a travel book -- or a record of Venice's artistic heritage. Her history until the loss of her political independence held much drama and history: her place in the Mediterranean world was pre-eminent. This provides the main focus of the text and helps integrate Venice in the Adriatic in particular, while tracing the development of the aristocracy of wealth and birth along with the democracy of her political development and the intense individuality of her personality. Commerce and trade, conquest in order to maintain this dominion, a way of life that inevitably led to excesses and ultimately to decadence and decay are traced in a readable and interesting text illuminated by the photographs. Sufficient place -- for the purpose- is given to the artistic and architectural history to provide the necessary balance.