Jamie Mackay peels away the layers of this mysterious island. It is a story with its origins in ancient legend that has reinvented itself across centuries: in conquest and resistance. Inseparable from these political and social developments is the nation's cultural patrimony.
Jamie Mackay’s book fills in the lines with a history of Sicily as lush and vibrant as the mountainous little dot where ancient Greeks, Africans, Arabs, and Northern Europeans have clashed, coexisted, and interbred over millennia.
[A] lucid, sweeping yet detailed history of the island ... The book’s title...implies a deeply mythical place, refashioned again and again by its chroniclers. The island’s meanings are multiple and elusive ... MacKay is careful not to overstate the case for Sicilian progressiveness and diversity, and he keeps a level-headed tone.
An astute and revealing portrait of Sicily as a vibrant, historically 'autonomous' island with a singular culture fashioned by its proximity to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East ... Skillfully segueing from one period to the next, Mackay packs the narrative with insights into how historical events impacted Sicilian culture ... The author’s keen eye for telling details and lucid prose make this an accessible introduction to a complex and fascinating culture.