From the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries, military engineers in the Mediterranean devised a new strategy for defending a city built on a peninsular site: a navigable canal was excavated through the neck of the landmass, severing the city from the coast and isolating it within the sea. In Building with Water: The Rise of the Island-City in the Early Modern Mediterranean, Elizabeth Kassler-Taub traces the development and dissemination of this overlooked urban type. She details how the “island-city” first emerged in the Adriatic and Ionian territories of the Venetian stato da mar and later swept across Spanish and Portuguese outposts in the western Mediterranean basin, where...

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