Michelangelo's Mountain: The Quest for Perfection in the Marble Quarries of

Eric Scigliano (Author)

Product Details

Free Press
Publish Date
December 01, 2012
6.0 X 8.9 X 1.1 inches | 0.85 pounds
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About the Author

Eric Scigliano has written for Discover, Harper's, National Geographic, New Scientist, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, and his books include The Big Thaw: Ancient Carbon, Modern Science, and a Race to Save the World (Moutaineers Books, 2019), Michelangelo's Mountain: The Quest for Perfection in the Marble Quarries of Carrara (Free Press, 2005), and Love, War, and Circuses: The Age-Old Relationship Between Elephants and Humans (Houghton Mifflin, 2002), also published as Seeing the Elephant, among others.


"This is a terrific book, original in conception and exhilarating in its range and sweep. Eric Scigliano effortlessly marries the vibrant and tumultuous world of "quattrocento" and "cinquecento" Tuscan politics, philosophy, and art to his own 21st-century travels in the region. Whether sketching a landscape, exploring the geology of marble, following Michelangelo from commission to commission, waxing lyrical on the curing of pork fat, or talking stonemasonry to elderly quarrymen in a Carrara bar, Scigliano is a deft, eloquent writer; the connections he makes are always surprising and often revelatory. His Michelangelo emerges as a man as much of our time and place as of his own."

-- Jonathan Raban, author of "Bad Land and Passage to Juneau"
"From the Medici to Henry Moore, from Rome to the Renaissance to the modern quarry workers of Carrara, Eric Scigliano weaves a compelling narrative of marble, its mountains, and its greatest master and apprentice, Michelangelo Buonarroti."

-- William E. Wallace, Professor of Art History, Washington University, St. Louis
"This is a masterful work, in many respects a new kind of narrative nonfiction. Dancing seamlessly between past and present, Eric Scigliano illuminates Michelangelo through the sculptor's passion for special stone, set against the story of the stone itself and the people who still share that passion today. His strong, polished, yet informal prose -- reminiscent at times of the marble he describes -- is the perfect vehicle for this remarkable balancing act."

-- Paul Robert Walker, author of "The Feud That Sparked the Renaissance"
"Just as Michelangelo wrested works of genius from the grip of the stone that possessed him, Eric Scigliano, with a Carrarese quarryman's blood running through his veins, has chipped away at the remarkable history of man's two thousand-year obsession with the white mountain. His easy, almost conversational tone belies the comprehensively researched chronicle he narrates with erudition and wit."

-- David Tripp, author of "Illegal Tender: Gold, Greed, and the Mystery of the Lost 1933 Double Eagle"
"Eric Scigliano's book on Michelangelo is vivid, erudite, and highly readable -- a fresh take brilliantly executed."

-- Robin Brooks, author of "The Portland Vase"
"Eric Scigliano works magic -- in "Michelangelo's Mountain" he brings cold stone to brilliant, captivating life. With the tenacity of an investigative reporter, the deep knowledge of a cultural historian, and the infectious attitude of a "bon vivant" traveler, Scigliano prowls the Italian countryside uncovering the mystery of the marble that inspired Michelangelo's greatest masterpieces. "You must listen to the stone, " the master marble cutters of Carrara say, and in Scigliano's hands the stone yields an enchanting tale. Bravo!"

-- Bruce Barcott, author of "The Measure of a Mountain: Beauty and Terror on Mount Rainier"