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The Roman Forum (Wonders of the World) Hardcover – 30 Apr 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (30 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861979622
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861979629
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.9 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 928,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

In this sprightly volume...the distinguished architectural historian David Watkin charts the shifting fortunes of the site...Professor Watkin has an engagingly romantic feeling for the place... Deploying a good deal of sharp wit, he reveals how the relatively recent obsession with recovering the Forum's classical past has led to much unhappy destruction and much less scarcely happy invention. (Matthew Sturgis Country Life 2009-05-06)

[H]e writes in an easily accessible, informative and lucid style that explains the history and details of the site but primarily celebrates the Forum as it should be seen... Well illustrated, this is an excellent guide for the visitor, armchair or otherwise. (Peter Shaw Italy Magazine 2009-09-01)

In this clever and elegant little book the distinguished architectural historian David Watkin picks up the story where most traditional guide books end. His passionate, provocative and, at times, polemical account of the things 'the archaologists don't want us to see', provides a fascinating tour of the Forum's later history.... Deeply thought-provoking and consciously controversial, this is the perfect book to make us go back to Rome and consdier the things we have missed in the past. (Thorston Opper British Museum 2009-09-01)

With verve, authority and no little humour, Watkin tells the detailed and complex story of this great but mutilated landmark... It is an almost impossible task, superbly done. (Peter Jones BBC History Magazine 2009-09-01)

Another triumph... Dr Watkin can surely be included among the wonders of the modern art-historical world. (Robin Simon British Art Journal 2009-12-01)

Book Description

A radically new look at the ruins of the centre of ancient Rome, one of the best known wonders of the ancient world and a highpoint of the tourist route round Rome, yet for many visitors a baffling and unwelcoming place.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an annual visitor to Rome for over thirty years I am always on the lookout for a guide which will reveal more than the superficial sites of interest that, wonderful though they are, I have seen many, many times before. Prof. Watkin's book does not disappoint. In fact, I am sorry that I have not come across it before. It is a gem. Even allowing for Prof. Wakin's obvious distain for archaeologists from the 19th and 20th Century who have dug their way through the forum to reveal sometimes unimportant artefacts at the loss of far more significant but later buildings, which he repeats at least once in every chapter, this small volume should be part of every visitors' library during a visit to the forum. There is so much information here. Written in a detailed but approachable style and equally suited to a read in an armchair or during an amble through the site itself. I know that my next visit to Rome will be accompanied by this book and I think that I shall allow at least a full day for exploration of the sites discussed in this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's sort of OK, but the constant moaning about how the archeologists have "ruined" the Forum gets a bit grating after a while. For some strange reason Prof. Watkin feels they should have left it like it was around 1740, when it was used as a pasture for cattle. He goes on and on about this. Apparently, what the archeologists of previous times really should have done, was to time-travel ahead a couple of hundred years, prostate themselves in front of Prof Watkin's office and humbly seek his sage advice. Unfortunately this did not happen.

Not much new information about the ancient Forum, but if churches are your thing you'll enjoy it. His slightly pompous style does him no favours either. Try to find Michael Grant's book with the same title instead. Some of it is a bit outdated, but still a far better book.
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Format: Paperback
Prof Watkin's story is one of the most fascinating pictures of the Roman Forum throughout many centuries of its history. I wouldn't agree with previous comments stressing inappropriate author's opinion regarding archaeological side of the Forum. Talking from historical point of view I immensely appreciated that Prof Watkin successfully fulfilled his attempt to reveal and discuss how many 'historical' structures or their parts in fact are not historically Roman but reconstructed in 19 or even earlier centuries. A colorful excursus on Piranesi's engravings of the Forum and numerous pictures of this Italian master put me back into romantic times when this sacred center of the Roman world was lying underneath tones of ruins and muddle.
However, the biggest advantage which you can take from this account is not it's critical tone (which makes reading live and disputable) but a very important and novel stress on the Forum's continuity during Middle Ages and Renaissance when the former heart of the Roman state turned into the sacred place of the Christian world adorned with its marvelous churches and popes' processions.

This book enriches the Roman Forum and tells the story of its continuation up to now.
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This is a different approach to the Forum and gives so much "background history" also of buildings that are no longer there and details of their construction and in some cases subsequent destruction to be replaced by others. I already kneww the Forum quite well and was so taken by this account that I organised a brief trip to Rome, to see again the places Prof. Watkin had written about. It was well worth going back, with this book for company and I hope to do so again one day, hopefully soon. Thank you Prof. Watkin.
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Open the pages to take a singular journey into the iconic center of the Roman world seen through the eyes of contemporaries.
This is an informative and enjoyable read based on the observations of history and archeology through the centuries to the present. Keenly observed the tragedy of heavy handed work of the past is juxtaposed with the care and preservation of more enlightened times. Within these walls the foundations of the modern world were arguably forged - take the journey.
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I loved this book. It opened my eyes to many facts I was not aware of. I can't wait to go back to Rome and revisit the Forum. Armed with his great book I will be much better equipped to appreciate what I am looking at. Well worth a read for anyone with a real interest in the history of Ancient Rome.
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