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Pompeii Paperback – 4 May 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; New Ed edition (4 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753820765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753820766
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 305,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

It was a happy day that brought [Butterworth and Laurence] together and begat this book... This is history at its best.. (THE TIMES (27/5/06))

It is hard to believe that a fresh and new approach [to Pompeii] is possible. Yet Butterworth and Laurence have performed the unexpected in this evocative new study. (HISTORY TODAY)

Butterworth and Laurence document the details of daily life with gusto. (OBSERVER (4/6/06))

Book Description

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on 4 Feb 2006
Format: Hardcover
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 By A Customer on 13 Dec 2005
Format: Hardcover
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 By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Oct 2010
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 By Ms. F. E. Miles on 4 Aug 2011
Format: Paperback
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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