"In this volume I proposed to write a biography of Venice... Believing that a State is an organic whole, and that such an organism can be more easily studied in a City than in a Territorial State, it appeared to me that the Venetian Republic presented one of the most striking examples of the inception, birth, adolescence, decline, and death of a Community which history has to offer for our observation.
Throughout her career the personality of the Republic overshadows the personality of even her most distinguished citizens. No State, except Athens, has ever presented, at the very core of her life, the idea of herself with such sumptuous personification in art. Athene in the Parthenon, Venezia in the Ducal Palace, offer the two most illustrious examples of a nation's self-portraiture through painting and through sculpture.
With this conception in view, I have attempted to note the generation and gestation of the race; to display the operation of extrinsic circumstances, such as geographical and natural position, in the formation of its character; to trace the procedure of those intrinsic qualities, such as commercial spirit, skepticism, seamanship, which led the nation to pursue its peculiar line of development; and to demonstrate the action of external forces in urging the State to commit errors, for which she paid the penalty with her life. My endeavor has been to state facts, and then to suggest causes and consequences..." - Horatio F. Brown