• The Borgias

  • The Hidden History
  • By: G. J. Meyer
  • Narrated by: Enn Reitel
  • Length: 20 hrs
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 02-04-13
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • 4 out of 5 stars 3.8 (39 ratings)


The startling truth behind one of the most notorious dynasties in history is revealed in a remarkable new account by the acclaimed author of The Tudors and A World Undone. Sweeping aside the gossip, slander, and distortion that have shrouded the Borgias for centuries, G. J. Meyer offers an unprecedented portrait of the infamous Renaissance family and their storied milieu.
The Borgias
They burst out of obscurity in Spain not only to capture the great prize of the papacy, but to do so twice. Throughout a tumultuous half-century - as popes, statesmen, warriors, lovers, and breathtakingly ambitious political adventurers - they held center stage in the glorious and blood-drenched pageant known to us as the Italian Renaissance, standing at the epicenter of the power games in which Europe’s kings and Italy’s warlords gambled for life-and-death stakes.
Five centuries after their fall - a fall even more sudden than their rise to the heights of power - they remain immutable symbols of the depths to which humanity can descend: Rodrigo, the Borgia who bought the papal crown and prostituted the Roman Church; Cesare, the Borgia who became first a teenage cardinal and then the most treacherous cutthroat of a violent time; Lucrezia, the Borgia as shockingly immoral as she was beautiful. These have long been stock figures in the dark chronicle of European villainy, their name synonymous with unspeakable evil.
But did these Borgias of legend actually exist? Grounding his narrative in exhaustive research and drawing from rarely examined key sources, Meyer brings fascinating new insight to the real people within the age-encrusted myth. Equally illuminating is the light he shines on the brilliant circles in which the Borgias moved and the thrilling era they helped to shape, a time of wars and political convulsions that reverberate to the present day, when Western civilization simultaneously wallowed in appalling brutality and soared to extraordinary heights. Stunning in scope, rich in telling detail, G. J. Meyer’s The Borgias is an indelible work sure to become the new standard on a family and a world that continue to enthrall.
©2013 G. J. Meyer (P)2013 Random House Audio
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Clementi on 27-07-15

Horses for Courses!

Would you listen to The Borgias again? Why?

Yes, because it is a truly complex story and there are so many names that I'd never heard of before that I would really like to listen again as it's am amazingly compelling story.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Borgias?

There aren't any particular moments as it's not that kind of book, G J Meyer writes a particular type of history - he also wrote The Tudors which is on Audible and I had listened to that before this one. Bear in mind that Meyer is an American and, just speaking personally, I always find that Americans writing on European history are overly kind to some of Europe's most notorious and infamous characters! But, on balance, he is reasonably fair and does at least put his metaphorical cards on the tablet right at the start. This is a redemption of the Borgia's, make no mistake. An apology if you will

What about Enn Reitel’s performance did you like?

The reason I entitled this "Horses for Courses" is that I was very nearly put off from this book by some of the near-vitriolic comments on Enn Reitel's performance.

Personally, I liked his narration as it is very rhythmic. Yes, he does stop and start a bit but it usually seems intended to emphasize inflection or tone, or perhaps actual punctuation in the book. I found it very easy to listen to but found his Italian and Spanish pronunciations quite hard to follow and/or understand at times.

I have no idea if his European pronunciations were good, but they certainly were very "Spanish" or "Italian" if you know what I mean?!

I would say to any other potential listener, don't be put off. Listen to the sample and see how you get on. I LOVE rhymic readers who read with a kind of lilt, nice clear up and downs. Mind you, I have high-functioning autism and often find nuanced inflections quite hard to follow and so I enjoyed Enn Reitel's very clear pauses, stops, comma spaces etc.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

There have been so many films of The Borgias, all of which are mostly invented history. Similarly to the British obsession with The Tudors, who are characterized as caricatures mostly, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I bearing little resemblance to their truths, so it is with The Borgias.

Any additional comments?

Meyer is attempting to redeem ALL of the Borgias in this tome. No mean feat! I find some of his interpretations a little unconvincing personally but, then again, I am an historian professionally (not European history!) and so perhaps I expect more original source research. Meyer is very honest in his introductions that original source documentation is not really his 'thing' although, to be fair, he does introduce original sources and speak about them. However, he seems to rely heavily on other historian's work, some contemporaneous with The Borgias. This is fine other than he seems to pick historians who have been mostly discounted by historians of today for being biased or bigotted. Meyer states that they are biased and bigotted and that is his entire point really - they all had something to gain by slating The Borgias - and he's right. But, whether it is entirely legitimate to base your entire work on such accounts mostly in order to dismiss them, is another question.

However, Meyer writes with humour and intelligence and I found it a really enjoyable book and would highly recommend it to others.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By MRS on 04-01-14

not enough about the borgias

What disappointed you about The Borgias?

it had too much information about the catholic church and other popes

Would you ever listen to anything by G. J. Meyer again?


How did the narrator detract from the book?

didn't detract but the content was a bit dry

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Borgias?

most of the book

Any additional comments?

if you want to know about challenges for the catholic church and the choice of popes this is for you

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Cinders on 02-08-13

Marvelous !

I have read a lot of books about the Borgias, and of all those on my bookshelf (actual volumes on the shelf, as well as audiobooks) this is far and away my favorite. I loved the author's approach, which for one thing takes the reader back to the very FIRST Borgia Pope (and here I didn't even realize that there WAS any other Borgia Pope than Rodrigo), and fills in all the lacunae which other authors have ignored. I found every detail fascinating because I really want to understand the events in Italy of this time period, and the details are what create a rich picture of the times for those of us who are looking back 1500 years. I also cannot imagine a more wonderful narrator for this book. He carried me along with him on this fascinating journey with his rich, mellifluous tones, and that was truly the icing on the cake, great marriage of narrator with material. If you are interested in the history of early Renaissance Italy, you should love this book !

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24 of 24 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Barry on 17-12-13

Absolutely nothing wrong with this audiobook

Where does The Borgias rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This audiobook is excellent in every respect. Its a GJ Meyer book, so the narrative style is spellbinding. I have listened to his other books as well, e.g. The World Undone and The Tudors, and his book on the Borgias is just as enjoyable.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Borgias?

GJ Meyer turns the entire sprawling anti-Borgia conspiracy on its head. This is sorely needed revisinist history, delivered in a very enjoyable fashion.

What does Enn Reitel bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I dont really notice the narrator - that's how good he is. He just fades into the background, which makes for a great audiobook.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?


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11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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