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Pompeii [Kindle Edition]

Alex Butterworth , Ray Laurence
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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Product Description


"It takes a real act of imagination to recreate the life that once filled the city's streets. Ray Laurence is well qualified to make the attempt... Now he has teamed up with Alex Butterworth, a writer and dramatist to bring the city to life in a more readily accessible and attractive fashion. What the authors have done is to attempt to tell the story of the last twenty-five years of Pompeii's existence in somethng of the style of a novel..." (JEREMY PATERSON LITERARY REVIEW )

"This book attempts to restore meaning to the dusty ruins with notable success. The authors are an archaeologist/historian and a dramatist: Laurence contributes up-to-date research while Butterworth puts human flesh on dry bones... In other respects, the life of Pompeii seems startlingly contemporary... It is the great achievement of this book that we feel we know these people, and their tragedy moves us. The life and death of Pompeii is evoked with verve and authority." (OBSERVER )

"Brings Pompeii startlingly alive once more" (HISTORY TODAY )

"the most ambitious re-creation yet of life in the city over the 20 years or so leading up to the eruption." (Mary Beard SUNDAY TIMES )

"By using the very latest archaeological and historical research, Pompeii offers a vivid portrait of a lost city during the 25 years leading up to the eruption that destroyed it. ... We find a world rich in wine, ritual, sex, political scandal and over-the-top partying. This book is a wonderfully accessible introduction to the social history of the Roman Empire as a whole." (DAILY EXPRESS )

"graphic, ambitious and utterly compelling recreation... Butterworth and Laurence paint a rich, multi-layers and utterly memorable picture of Pompeii and their book is a thumping good read." (IRISH EXAMINER )

"With Pompeii, Ray Laurence (a distinguished Pompeian scholar) and the writer Alex Butterworth have done something quite unusual... The result is the fullest and most readable account I know... Perhaps the most impressive feature is the sheer detail, and the lightness of touch in presenting it." (PETER JONES SUNDAY TELEGRAPH )

"An original and vivid recreation of unfolding events in the doomed city... The whole is written in a lively style, with nice touches of humour... a good read." (BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGY )

"a vivid portrait of place and people before the cataclysms of AD 62 and 75" (CHURCH TIMES )

"accessible, wide-ranging and evocative and makes surprisingly compelling reading." (CATHOLIC TIMES )

"For those looking to be transported back to the living city, it will be hard to resist." (OXFORD TIMES )

"... a very detailed narrative, mixture of historical fact and patches of italicised fiction, and Harris wishes that it had been available when he wrote his novel... heavily researched but readable book, which is also splendidly illustrated." (JANE GARDAM SPECTATOR )

"Wonderful facts... are laced with humour... With an excellent bibliography, note and index, Pompeii - The Living City fulfils every requirement of an erudite historical exposition, while achieving something far greater through its entertaining and well-written text... I would encourage anyone with a passing interest in ancient history to buy a copy" (TRIBUNE )

Book Description

A visceral history of Pompeii - the living city brought back to life.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1944 KB
  • Print Length: 431 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; Mass Market Paperback edition (12 May 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0053YQNCC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #249,594 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roman graffiti tells all! 4 Feb 2006
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Just as you thought everything that could be said about Pompeii had been done in the multitude of books, films or TV specials, along comes this fresh and evocative account. The authors aren't content with simply analysing how the events unfolded and who reported what to the authorities and history. Instead, they use available records and artefacts to transport us in time, both literally and imaginatively to build a picture of life in the Bay of Naples city. Unlike the "standard" historian's relation of evidence and events, the authors set Pompeii within the larger context of empire. Further, they flavour their account with imaginative occasions in the lives of people who actually lived there. The book reads something like taking a newspaper to a theatre. Read a chapter, then watch actors on a stage acting out plausible background scenes.
The scene is set with the accession of the Emperor Nero in Rome. Nero had ties to Pompeii, not the least of which was that it was the native city of his mistress, and later wife, Poppaea. Pompeii, of course, had many natural advantages. Sitting below Vesuvius, which hadn't erupted in historical memory, granted it a productive environs. Volcanic soil is rich, the authors remind us. As a port city, Pompeii had an edge even on Rome. Luxury goods flowed in as farm produce and other goods went abroad or inland. Pompeii was noted for "garum", a fish paste produced in enormous quantities and many quality levels. However it smelled, and the authors cite opinions from several observers, it brought money to the city. Production and trade in this and other goods made Pompeii a lively place. Not the least of the dynamic was the role of freed slaves.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Step into Pompeii... 13 Dec 2005
By A Customer
Bear with the first few paragraphs and the accademic tone. What at first seem like dry, random and disconnected story-lines gradually accumulate and form a multi-faceted, layered recreation of the city in it's political and social contexts along side first-hand seeming accounts. Complex at times, but thats good: the authors make the material accessable but on it's own terms and do not patronise. Above all it's enlightening and sometimes startling: from the robotic displays used to entertain Emperor Nero, and the antics enjoyed by the wealthy and privileged, to the appaling existence endured by the slaves and the particularly awful fate of the last enhabitants of Herculenaeum the effects of this book are multitudinous, uncanny and very clever. Step into Pompeii...
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There's not much point in me trying to contend with the excellent and lengthy review already provided here by Stephen A. Haines. Having myself just returned from a holiday incorporating visits to Pompeii and Herculaneum, I will simply remark instead that whilst this is an excellent read, it's not really in itself a great companion for anyone who wants to visit (or has visited) Pompeii, in the sense of helping to make sense of what they will actually see (or have seen) there. Rather it's a kind of partly factual, partly imagined narrative of the quarter-century of the city and the wider Roman world leading up to the eruption of Vesuvius in 79.

For both the prospective tourist and one who has already been, the book I recommend instead is Mary Beard's Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town, which discusses what information can be gleaned about life in the town in relation to specific buildings you will see (or have seen). I bought both books before visiting, handing Ms Beard's book to my wife first whilst I read this book in the meantime. I really wish that I had done the opposite, not least because the missus was able to tell me far, far more about what was actually standing in front of us as as we stood in the ruins than I had found out from this book.

So read Ms Beard's book first, and if the subject fires your interest, by all means read this too for a somewhat different angle.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living History 4 Aug 2011
Having been to Pompeii and Herculaneum I was looking for a book that brought it alive and maybe a glimpse of the human element behind the bricks and mortar ( for want of a better expression).

I think this book does exactly what it says on the tin, it weaves a story of certain citizens into a fully credible and interesting narrative.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and unlike another review I read I will recommend this over Mary Beard's effort which unfortunately I found rather turgid.
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