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292 Reviews
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engineering mystery, municipal corruption, natural disaster
An Aquarius (aqueduct engineer) mysteriously goes missing so a new one has to be appointed. The water stops flowing down the Aqua Augusta. The new Aquarius must find the source of the problem quickly because there's a drought and several towns along the bay of Naples are entirely dependent on the aqueduct for their water. He persuades the Admiral, Pliney (the elder),...
Published on 1 Aug 2004 by Sally-Anne

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overrated but interesting novel
I could have written a one sentence review of "Pompeii" such as "Nothing much happens and then a volcano goes off", but that would be cruel and ignore the many positive and absorbing aspects of this novel.Nearly everyone has heard the story of the destruction of Pompeii by Vesuvius from their schooldays or, more likely, from Frankie Howard films and how the decadent...
Published on 20 Oct 2004 by L. Davidson


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4.0 out of 5 stars an entertaining account of the last days of Pompeii, 18 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Pompeii (Kindle Edition)
Set in the bay of Naples it tells the story of one family and a young engineer who maintains the aqueduct.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Red this book on holiday several years ago and enjoyed it but was a bit disappointed in it this, 11 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Pompeii (Kindle Edition)
Red this book on holiday several years ago and enjoyed it but was a bit disappointed in it this time
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 17 Sep 2003
By 
This review is from: Pompeii (Hardcover)
Read this book if you wish to be transported back to the week of Vesuvius erupting and to witness it all from the eyes of the engineer responsible for the fresh water supply to the Bay of Naples. This is a very difficult book to put down, along with another book that I highly recommend is "HE NEVER CALLED AGAIN." These two books belong on everyone's bookshelf.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I had already read it -- he loved it., 28 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Pompeii (Paperback)
Bought for my husband to read as we were visiting Pompeii. I had already read it -- he loved it.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More of a whimper than a bang, 3 May 2007
By 
J.R.Hartley (NW England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Pompeii (Paperback)
I had really looked forward to this book as I had enjoyed the other books by the same authot that I had read, I am an avid reader of Roman fiction and it had been strongly recommended by a discerning friend. Perhaps I was expecting too much. In short, the first 200 pages are largely about how to design, build and maintain a very large aqueduct while the remaining 200 pages feature a rather tame eruption as the endlessly dreary central character sorts out the aqueduct, the local villain and a pantomime hardman.

Having been to Pompeii and to the top of Vesuvius I have to say that this book utterly failed to describe the sheer scale of the eruption and the devastation it caused. Harris chose to include somewhat clinical technical data to illustrate what was going on which irked me as it seemed so utterly out of place. On top of that the characters are thinly drawn and I found myself not caring whether they lived or died.

Maybe I'm being too harsh as I expected more, but there are better thrillers out there and I'm astounded that so many people have given it 5 stars.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written page-turner, 23 Nov 2004
By 
G. L. Haggett "glynlhaggett" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Pompeii (Paperback)
In the past, I had very much admired Robert Harris's non-fiction, but found his fiction quite hardgoing and even at times unreadable.
This, however, is a very readable account of the final days of Pompeii, backed up with an impressive depth of research. While it is by no means great literature (it is not trying to be, after all), the characters are for the most part very believable. The only cavil I would have in that respect is with the rather lame romantic thread; I suspect, however, that that goes with the territory as far as this genre is concerned. The pace increases significantly as we move towards the inevitable conclusion; the last 100 pages passed very quickly.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Corrupt Eruption?, 28 Feb 2004
By 
Captain Cook (Leeward to the Sandwich Islands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Pompeii (Hardcover)
Painstaking historical research brought to life in novel form. The main character is an engineer called in to repair an aqueduct.

Stuff about volcanic eruptions and decadent Romans vomitting at feasts so they can stuff themselves again! The point of this seems to be poetic irony -- the Romans 'erupt' then are erupted on! And, furthermore, since they're so decadent to just use food hedonistically, they are clearly guilty of the classical sin of hubris, so the eruption is supposed to be a kind of divine retribution, giving this blind act of natural violence some moral dimension. These are the rather obvious literary fireworks that Harris endeavours to embed in the text.

In a nutshell this is regurgitated, pre-chewed history for the easy consumption of those who haven't quite developed historical molars of their own.
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22 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars back to his best, 15 Sep 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Pompeii (Hardcover)
It does not surprise me to see this book straddling the charts at number one. Mr Harris is back to his sizzling best here. The author of the taut Enigma and the chilling Fatherland missed the mark in Archangel where he descended into unintentional farce as he concocted a silly story about Stalin's lost son who sounded as if he had come out of a cartoon horror film! Pompeii is not like that. It is a story told about the four days leading to the eruption of the latent volcano overlooking Rome's richest outpost. Sparing us no details no matter how tedious of water supplies to the city Mr Harris supplies a narative that is part thriller and part love story and part pure history. I agree with earlier readers about the symbolic significance of water. Namely that Pomepeii is the United States and the water represents materialistic arrogance at his worst and the belief that earthly power is long lasting. Not so says Mr Harris. Everything crumbles before Nature. Pompeii's water was turned off by Nature, just as Rome's was by more vigorous eartly powers. Is there another message? Perhaps. It might be about America's adventures overseas in comparison to Rome's.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars magisterial!, 9 Oct 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Pompeii (Hardcover)
As a former classics student ( more years ago than I care to remember at Cambridge!) I approached this work with trepidation, fearing Mr Harris would sacrifice verissmilitude in favour of accessibility for the non-specialist. I need not have worried. There are some minor inaccuracies and some of the dialogue verged on the parodic (like Hollywood war films where the Germans say Ja! ) but otherwise I was entirely comfortable with Mr Harris's portrayal of the ethos of ancient Rome. As I have not read a novel for many years I am not equipped to say whether it is good by modern standards. I can, notwithstanding this, declare that I enjoyed it greatly. I hope my stature as a classic graduate carries weight with potential readers who know nothing of the Ancient World.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Explosive Enough!!, 16 Aug 2007
By 
J.Flood (Dublin,Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Pompeii (Paperback)
Pompeii, is set, as you can probably guess, in the last few days, before the destruction of that town, by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, in 79 A.D. I felt, the author's attention to detail was very good, but that some of the characters were a bit one-dimensional. A lot of time was spent on the build up to the eruption, but I felt the author did not spend enough time on the actual town of Pompeii, a lot of the book is set in the surrounding towns. Overall though, not a bad read.
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Pompeii by Robert Harris (Hardcover - 4 Sep 2003)
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