Jonathan Boardman’s “Rome: A Cultural and Literary History” from the Cities of the Imagination Series is a gem. This is a man whom you would want to show you around the Eternal City, or, failing that, sit down over a bottle of chianti and listen to hold forth on this city he obviously loves. His personality and charm seem to have been effortlessly translated to the written page. He is a guide nonpareil: warm, thoughtful, encyclopaedic, and, above all, entertaining. The book is at once a history and a contemporary guidebook, tracing the roots of the city and the routes of the city. He sprinkles it liberally with anecdotes and trivia and keeps it broad in its scope, yet personal in the delivery. As a sometime tour guide I can appreciate the skill with which Mr. Boardman shows his love and knowledge of the subject, yet without being gushy or partisan. Boardman also manages to be an exhaustively well-read know it all without seeming show-offy, thereby educating and delighting the reader. Providing the reader also really really loves Rome. I do. A little treasure well worth your time. I give this book 4 hidden gems. Out of a possible 5.