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Amo, Amas, Amat... and All That: How to Become a Latin Lover [Hardcover]

Harry Mount
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Nov 2006
Those endless afternoons where you struggled to remember the third person singular present indicative of volo (vult) may be a long time ago. But, if you have the vaguest memory of the ablative absolute, the locative and the gerund, you mastery of Latin will spring back to life with Amo, amas, amat...and all that. In his trip through the world's most influential language, Harry Mount uncorks its magic, drawing on Latin lovers from Kingsley Amis to John Cleese, from Evelyn Waugh to Donna Tart. Read this book and you will know Latin. Know Latin and - mirabile dictu - you will know Wilfred Owen's misery, Catullus's aching heart and the comedy of a thousand bachelor schoolmasters.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Short Books Ltd; 8th Impression edition (2 Nov 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904977545
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904977544
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.6 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 409,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


If you know someone who missed out on Latin at school and wants to live a happier life, you could do no better than give them Harry Mount's entertainingly educative Latin primer --Daily Mail

Amo, Amas, Amat... is a diverting meander and Mount's love of Latin shines out on every page --The Spectator

Latin without the pain --Guardian --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Harry Mount read Classics at Oxford and was a Latin tutor before becoming a journalist. He has been a leader-writer and New York correspondent at the Daily Telegraph. His memoir of his time as a barrister's pupil, My Brief Career, is also published by Short Books --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Slow! Slow and slower 31 Jan 2014
This book is just dull, just when you think it's about to get going it slows down, it's almost like its deliberate, as if the author Is padding out the book to make up for lack of content.

And the price is ridiculous, you couldn't give this book away.

It came as no surprise to learn the author is a failed lawyer and lazy journalist (in my opinion)

Shame on the publisher for printing
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67 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly entertaining 20 Feb 2007
I was very surprised to see some of the negative reviews that this book has received here. I am a recently qualified Latin teacher, and I have recent experience of Latin from both sides of the teacher / student divide. I found the book to be thoroughly entertaining and informative, occasionally downright hilarious, and it consistently held my attention.

I think the discrepancies in the reviews above are largely due to people's misguided expectations of the book. It is not (nor could it possibly be used as) a reference work by which one could expect to learn the language. Its audience is probably limited to those who already have a reasonable knowledge of Latin, and, put simply, the author aims to reward your knowledge (no matter how basic) with some clever 'in jokes' and literary references. He does so, in my opinion, with a good deal of skill and success.
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91 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bene 8 Oct 2006
I couldn't believe I would enjoy a book based on the latin language and how it might affect the way I go about my life, but having been given a copy of Amo, Amas, Amat I could not put it down. Not only is it written with great wit and intelligence, but it really makes understanding Latin easy in a way I could never have believed possible when it was taught to me at school. Thank you, Harry Mount, for finally bringing Latin to life for me.
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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious and pointless 17 Aug 2007
Other reviewers have asked the question 'Who is this book for?' and that was the question going through my mind as I read it. The juxtaposition of trivia and detailed grammatical explanations is bizarre. The book attempts to be humorous but does not really succeed. This is not a book for someone who wishes to learn Latin as the grammatical explanations given are totally inadequate. Neither is it a book for someone who wishes to obtain a theoretical overview of how Latin works without actually learning the language. A reader who does not wish to learn Latin itself but wishes to learn the meaning of a few common Latin words and phrases would be advised to look elsewhere, such as James Morwood's Dictionary of Latin Words and Phrases, which despite its title, can be read from cover to cover, in small chunks, quite comfortably. Neither would I recommend this book as a refresher for the person who has already learned Latin (which is the reason I read it) as it is too lightweight.

I recognise that certain parts of this book may appeal to individuals who possess a particular type of 'schoolboy' humour, but such individuals (of which the author, presumably, is one) are not likely to be numerous. My general feeling at the end of the book was that I was very disappointed and that I had wasted my time, though fortunately not my money as I had borrowed it from my local public library.
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54 of 69 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Latin for Notting Hill set 14 Jan 2007
Mount starts off well enough, with his tales about Beckham having a few tattoos in Latin and so forth and this gives the reader hope that the book will present a modern, vibrant approach to the subject. However, it soon becomes clear that this is a book more appropriate for those who rate an appearance of education above education itself. Mount himself seems to revel in the idea that a knowledge of Latin is important primarily for attempting to show off at dinner parties, and he clearly sees the subject as tool to beat the less educated with. A bitter taste soons builds up and one can't help feeling that it is exclusivism, rather than Latin, that Mount loves.

I wasn't clear whether Mount was trying to teach me Latin or not. His presentation of grammatical tables, without much in the way of explanation or context, would be of little help to someone wanting to learn the subject, and unnecessary for someone who knows the language. It wasn't clear to me why he included them at all, unless to fill up space. As someone who has learnt a number of languages I wouldn't advise anyone to use this book as a beginner.

By the end I was left feeling that the book had given rather a poor impression of Latin and I was less, rather than more, interested in the subject.

The book contains frequent vulgarities, making it inappropriate for children.
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51 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for aspiring 'Gladiators' 6 Oct 2006
By Ali Wu
if you've ever dreamed of loving Livy, pleasing Pliny or even hating Horace, if you think the difference between the gerund and the gerundive is just a matter of Hobson's choice, then this is a book for you. The author must have really drunk deeply from his Latin master's cup to be able to impart the pleasures of Latin, but impart them he does. If you liked Gladiator but want to find out about the real thing, then give this a go.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining read but not a learning tool 17 July 2009
I was given this book by Secret Santa in my office last Christmas (presumably because I have some Roman numerals tattooed on my arm). It's written in a light-hearted and witty way throughout and is a fast, entertaining read.

I wouldn't recommend this, though, if you're looking at seriously trying to learn Latin and I think this is where the book falls down - instead of bogging us down in verb tenses etc the author should have just continued with an amusing look at where Latin is still featured in the world today. This is the book's strength - a humorous examination of the continuing legacy and prevalence of the ancient language spoken by the Romans (in some cases in very unlikely places).

Never mind, I'm off to get SPQR tattooed on my other arm.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great kit!
Great kit!
Published 2 months ago by Enzo
1.0 out of 5 stars A lost author
Another disappointment from a once exciting and promising author he seems to have lost his way and become a gun for hire. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mr Michael Sparks
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull Dull Dull
Found this book in my cab, have to say it was off very poor quality.Dont waist your time,a copy of the Daily Star is a much better read and a lot more better writen.
Published 4 months ago by Pen Name
1.0 out of 5 stars Ballingdon club ex member
Written for and by someone from a very privileged upbringing, who is also an embittered little Pratt.
A book you could only enjoy if you have no sense of the real world.
Published 9 months ago by Non Latin speaker
1.0 out of 5 stars Amo Amas bla bla bla
Absolute rubbish he claims to be factual, funny even but he should really go back to school.... Only entertaining for people wish a shallow and narrow perspective of life.
Published 9 months ago by Mr Joe Cork
1.0 out of 5 stars Quo Vimto Ad Rectum Horriblis
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Published 9 months ago by Anorak
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of money.
Do not buy this book.Can't be bothered to waste my time explaining why just read the other 1 star reviews and take NO notice of anything with more than one star.
Published 9 months ago by Gcab
1.0 out of 5 stars Amp, Amas
Do not waste your money on this rubbish. Spend your money on Peter and Jayne books, trust me they are a much better read!!
Published 9 months ago by Ian in Camden
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book!
Fascinating! It revived my interest in Latin after 50 years since I studied it at school. Highly recommended to the specialist or the general reader.
Published 11 months ago by Jenny Headlam-Wells
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and interesting
I loved Latin already and it brought back memories of learning at school but this is also for people who have never studied the language. It is great fun and very interesting.
Published 12 months ago by BookMad
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