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Pompeii Awakened: A Story of Rediscovery [Illustrated] [Hardcover]

Judith Harris
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 May 2009
On that fateful day in AD 79 the city of Pompeii was lost, and in time its location, its inhabitants and even its name were buried and forgotten. Not until 1755 did it emerge from its layer of volcanic rock, and the impact of that discovery was immediate and far-reaching. The evocative story of Pompeii's awakening lies not just in its uniquely preserved classical remains but also in the powerful impact it made on Europe's cultural imagination. In her rich account of those who sifted through its artefacts, we read of Nelson, Napoleon and Mussolini. Harris has delved into ancient diaries and descended deep underground to assess the latest excavations. As the sleeping city re-awakens in her hands, Pompeii casts its spell once more, bewitching those who seek to unearth its buried secrets.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: I B Tauris & Co Ltd; illustrated edition edition (30 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845112415
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845112417
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 16.6 x 3.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 577,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'A thrilling story.. Judith Harris has done it full justice.' --John Julius Norwich

'Judith Harris skilfully interweaves the story of the town's evacuation with the development of archaeology and insights into life in Roman times...The tale emerges from the pages as vibrantly as Pompeii does from the shroud of time.' --Alex Butterworth, ITALIAN

Italy Magazine

'The author has researched with experts from three continents, flown over the city in a hot air balloon, delved into ancient diaries and descended deep underground to assess the latest evacuations. She has produced a very readable work that also tells of those who have visited the city and used it for creative, political and propaganda purposes.'
--Peter Shaw

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A highly readable and interesting book 2 Feb 2009
I read this book from cover to cover with great interest. The author is particularly strong in her research into the Italian sources. There may be a few careless mistakes but these don't detract from the quality of the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pompeii Awakened: A Story of Rediscovery 4 Mar 2009
I am finding it very illuminating and informative. I live in Italy and this book fills a niche as well as being pleasant reading. All this background information will make a visit to Pompei more interesting for anyone planning to go there.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on exciting Pompeii discovery 18 July 2007
By S. S. Jordan - Published on Amazon.com
This book of Judith Harris's is a refreshing and humorous slant on the discovery of Pompeii. It reveals the newest artifacts uncovered as well as the latest information about prior discoveries. I especially liked the face of a woman peering out of the mud and the pride and embarrassment of finding sexual artifacts and what owners did with them. You could tell that Ms Harris was very familiar with the event and area. Plus, her writingwas picturesque and flowing. I am going to give it to all of my friends with even the slightest interest in Pompeii.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not what I expected 23 July 2008
By Atheen M. Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Pompeii Awakened is not quite what I'd expected it to be. Having recently seen the Pompeii exhibit at the Minnesota Science Museum in St. Paul, I'd expected a catalogue of finds and their cultural and historical significance, more of an interpretation of the site in terms of its place in the history of the world. Instead what the book presents is an ongoing history of the site as a cultural artifact, one which has/had value to those who were in control of it at any given time. It is also the story of an archaeological oddity that has had a significant and ongoing impact on world culture by virtue of its unique preservation. Roman culture has always had a place in Western civilization, guaranteed by the survival of its language and literature, especially through the agency of the Roman Catholic Church. The words of Ovid, Terrance, Horace, Cicero, and Caesar brought ideas to later generations that inspired the shaping and reshaping of the world, but they were only words, second hand impressions at best. With Pompeii, the lives of the Romans became almost unbearably real. Here later generations could peak into the lives of the ancients as they were in progress, interrupted by the disaster that preserved them.

While not an historian or archaeologist herself, the author, Judith Harris, is a journalist of some distinction and a US expatriate who has lived and worked in Italy most of her life. Her familiarity with Italy and its people has allowed her to present Pompeii as a cultural entity, subject to the whims of the King of Naples among others. She uses the buried city as a proxy for the history of Italy as a whole. In a collection of loosely united city states, the Italian people struggled to achieve a national identity long after other countries had already succeeded in doing so. Pompeii as an "artifact" belonging to Naples helps to illustrate how the divisive interests of various power centers, including the gradually declining Papal authority, prevented a concerted effort toward that unity. It also reveals that various international agendas, most notably France under Napoleon and Great Britain as it attempted to thwart him, also competed for control over the area. Even the activity of Mussolini during World War II becomes more understandable within the framework the author creats. One might almost see WWII as the "growing pains" of national identity in general, just as the present efforts to unify Europe into a more coherent entity are the growing pains of globalization.

The book is well researched with an extensive bibliography and end notes, some of which are in Italian. Most of the journal articles are recent, although some are as far back as 1967. The discussion covers a period from the actual Vesuvian eruption to modern times. The last chapter deals with the issues of the on going exploration of the site, it's preservation, and the ever present danger of reburial by the still active Volcano that destroyed it in the first place.

An interesting book.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting 1 Feb 2010
By Raffaello Sabatini - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Good concept for a book - the history of excavation of the Beloved Site. Found the illustrations uninteresting and non-germane. A litho of Bulwar-Lytton? Yawn. The glossies in the middle of the book were equally uninteresting. Who really cares about a pix of the San Carlo opera house that first staged the production of The Last Days of Pompeii? And whoever proofread this thing needs a course in Warriner's Grammar. On the whole, though, I enjoyed the research and the cleverly defined divisions of the history of the excavations and the bewildering cast of characters. Finally good to see in print that most of the great Roman/Pompeiian art housed in the famous museums was ripped off from hapless Neopolitan rulers, mostly by sleazy French and British plunderers. Oh, yeah, the book....the rhetoric was engaging and contemporary. Studying and visiting Pompeii is my passion. This book enriched my understanding. I'd recommend it with slight reservation.
4.0 out of 5 stars Events of the discovery of Pompeii 9 Feb 2013
By Linda Lee Lyman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The author gives you a lot of facts. Not just about the discovery of Pompeii but details of the curators and owners of the land where Pompeii was buried. I did find at least one interesting thing in each chapter. But after the third chapter the book contains quite a bit of boring information.
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