Rome is a popular topic in which you can find dozens if not hundreds of books. An important book published in 2006 entitled Rome : From the Ground Up is an excellent read. Whether it is your first time to the Eternal City or one of many visits, you are sure to enjoy this book.
The book chronicles the history of Rome by examining its monuments and archaeological sites and comes complete with photos and maps as well as suggested walking tours of the city. The author, James McGregor, starts off by chronicling the history of ancient Rome all the way to the Baroque era. McGregor classifies his book as a travel guide, but his attention to the historical and cultural details is quite excellent, and I would classify it as something more than just a travel guide. McGregor goes to great lengths to provide a historical context to the buildings, monuments, fountains and many piazzas that one would encounter in Rome. You feel as if you are actually walking through the streets of Rome!
What you won’t find in this book are recommendations for hotels or restaurants. It is purely a historical survey of Rome that the reader could then replicate for himself (or herself) on their own trip to Rome through walking tours of the city. The book is not expensive and reads fairly quickly. For the more serious scholar or student, McGregor provides a modest bibliography of sources to consult for further reading. The photos are small and rarely show any great detail. You might enjoy reading this book more with the use of Wikipedia, where you can look at larger photos of the places mentioned in the book which would help the reader to situate themselves better within the city.
On a scale from 1 to 5, I give this book a 4.5 because it is well-written, concise and captivating.