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Customer Review

24 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointing overall..., 13 Feb. 2011
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This review is from: Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town (Paperback)
As someone who expected great things here, I find myself a little disappointed overall(just as with her TV programme on this). Obviously Mary Beard is well researched, but even so I found her tendency to set up paper tigers that she then knocked down was a little irritating. Not many people would now take the detail of C19th/early C20th archaeology too seriously, but she takes some delight in being the "honest neutral observer" and correcting views and interpretations that are rather obviously outdated. I imagine she likes being seen as the controversial myth-busting classicist - she said of 9/11 that America "had it coming", or words to that effect - and she will enjoy the general reactions to this book. But then she chooses not to use some of the recent innovative Italian archaeologists work on Pompeii, papers that would have helped her book.

Having said that, she does have some fresh insights and some fascinating anecdotes, and it is a book worth reading. She is particularly good on pictures and paintings alone. But just a little too self-centered and even self-satisfied for me: "Pompeii-The Living City" by Butterworth and Lawrence was a more enjoyable read, and the authors do not keep getting in the way - it is not by chance that her photo is on the front cover!
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Feb 2011 02:00:30 GMT
Do let me know which recent Italian papers you think I should have used but didn't. I'd be really interested to know, Mary

Posted on 23 Mar 2011 12:58:26 GMT
Jenny says:
I fail to see how offering her view on a previously suggested theory is irritating. Its what historians do. They look at the evidence and different theories spring up.
As for being 'self satisfied' i felt it was the least self-congratulatory history book i've ever read.
I'm just saying....

Posted on 6 Jun 2012 20:46:17 BDT
B. MCCAFFREY says:
Don't worry, Mary! Your book is informative and fun, and anybody who can make painting and decorating fun is doing something right!

Posted on 10 Nov 2012 11:43:10 GMT
I suppose that we have all accumulated little scraps of history that are now disproved.
Only by this fact being brought to our notice, can we update our knowledge and I am always pleased to have any outdated belief of mine corrected.
Mary Beard's writing style does just that. I love her work.
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