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Customer Review

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Instant-coffee Table Decoration, 7 Dec. 2008
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This review is from: Lives of the Romans (Hardcover)
This is a book that is better neither to give or receive. I would guess that a commissioning editor at Thames and Hudson thought this a bright idea to complement their existing catalogue and talked the authors into "knocking it out" for the lucrative Christmas market.

Simply the book is thumbnail sketches of an eclectic mix of Romans, politicians, generals, artists, builders, courtesans et al. It is neither for expert or novice. Who is it for? It looks dull and is!

I found Philip Matyszak's "Sons of Caesar" an interesting book, the "Chronicle of the Roman Republic" a useful book and "Ancient Rome on Five Denari a Day" an entertaining book. The Lives of Romans is neither interesting, useful or entertaining. Joanne Berry, is the co-author. With the same publisher she produced "The Complete Pompeii" which, despite the silly title (no such thing with so much yet to be excavated), I liked it as a general reference source. The Lives of Romans reeks of a quick cut and paste, and an indifferent collection of illustrations and just one map.

This is a very lazy coffee table book, destined to languish unopened and sooner or later make it to the charity shop. If it had been better done, perhaps I might have bought it for my friends. They are a puzzled why I find the classics more entertaining than the memoirs of some minor footballer or TV chat show host but I worry this book would confirm a negative view of the Roman world. If Thames and Hudson want to commission popular ancient history why not take some of the Roman classics, update their translations and publish well-illustrated commentaries?
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Location: Hampstead N6

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