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on 17 August 2007
Other reviewers have asked the question 'Who is this book for?' and that was the question going through my mind as I read it. The juxtaposition of trivia and detailed grammatical explanations is bizarre. The book attempts to be humorous but does not really succeed. This is not a book for someone who wishes to learn Latin as the grammatical explanations given are totally inadequate. Neither is it a book for someone who wishes to obtain a theoretical overview of how Latin works without actually learning the language. A reader who does not wish to learn Latin itself but wishes to learn the meaning of a few common Latin words and phrases would be advised to look elsewhere, such as James Morwood's Dictionary of Latin Words and Phrases, which despite its title, can be read from cover to cover, in small chunks, quite comfortably. Neither would I recommend this book as a refresher for the person who has already learned Latin (which is the reason I read it) as it is too lightweight.

I recognise that certain parts of this book may appeal to individuals who possess a particular type of 'schoolboy' humour, but such individuals (of which the author, presumably, is one) are not likely to be numerous. My general feeling at the end of the book was that I was very disappointed and that I had wasted my time, though fortunately not my money as I had borrowed it from my local public library.
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on 20 February 2007
I was very surprised to see some of the negative reviews that this book has received here. I am a recently qualified Latin teacher, and I have recent experience of Latin from both sides of the teacher / student divide. I found the book to be thoroughly entertaining and informative, occasionally downright hilarious, and it consistently held my attention.

I think the discrepancies in the reviews above are largely due to people's misguided expectations of the book. It is not (nor could it possibly be used as) a reference work by which one could expect to learn the language. Its audience is probably limited to those who already have a reasonable knowledge of Latin, and, put simply, the author aims to reward your knowledge (no matter how basic) with some clever 'in jokes' and literary references. He does so, in my opinion, with a good deal of skill and success.
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on 16 May 2009
I lost count of the (mostly minor) errors in this book - the most glaring included putting AD after the date instead of before it (not normally a hanging offence, but in a Latin grammar book, unforgivable), quoting the Catholic prayer 'Hail Mary' and claiming it to be an extract from Luke's Gospel (its based on the passage from Luke, but not the same) and claiming that 'memento mori' means 'remember to die' (it means 'with remembrance of death' - again, normally not a problem, but unacceptable in a Latin grammar book).

There are also gross oversimplifications and Mount's enthusiasm for translating sense rather than literal meaning results in some 'translations' that are downright inaccurate.

Having said that, its a fun, easy read. It won't be any help at all if you don't knw any Latin - the explanations are nowehere near clear enough - but if you have done some Latin its a fun way to remind yourself of it.
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on 29 December 2006
What's the book for?

Mount introduces accidence by dodging back and forth with bits from Kennedy's primer, which is all very well, and quoting the paradigms fills out the pages nicely. His few perfunctory stabs at syntax are hardly likely to give a proper feel for the structure of sentences. If you want to study the thing as a whole, better buy the (complete) Kennedy, treat it as a reference book, and look for a properly structured way in which to learn the language (which this certainly is not). The gratuitous attacks on the Cambridge Latin Course and (more personally) its director are distasteful in the extreme -- and I have no axe to grind on behalf of either.

The odd diversions on teachers, emperors and so on might have a place if integrated into a serious attempt to describe the Romans and their language. If this be intended as such an attempt, it fails -- not least when Mount appears to discount, for instance, Vespasian and Diocletian.

Latin deserves better than this wretched ramble round the subject. I suppose that the book may rekindle enthusiasm among a few people who studied the language at school; I doubt that it would attract anyone without previous knowledge; surely, no teacher could make serious use of it?
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VINE VOICEon 13 February 2012
I really enjoyed this, it's a chatty breeze through Latin sentence construction with lots of stories in-between and a useful phrase section at the back.
It's primarily aimed at old lags like myself who once studied Latin but have forgotten everything except something about 'all of Gaul being split into 3 parts'.
It might also be useful for a bit of light relief for current students of Latin.

It's not meant as a serious primer as he says in the book you want Kennedy's Revised Latin Primer Paper for that. It actually made me want to learn Latin again, even though I was never that good at it.
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on 27 December 2017
It is a happy romp through Latin grammar. I would have given it a 5-star but Mr. Mount is critical of the Cambridge Latin Course which I have used for 9 years teaching secondary students.
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on 1 February 2014
Absolute rubbish he claims to be factual, funny even but he should really go back to school.... Only entertaining for people wish a shallow and narrow perspective of life.
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on 9 May 2017
I would right the whole review in Latin but I can not be bothered. I very good book just wish I did Latin at school but alas I just Ad libitum
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on 14 January 2007
Mount starts off well enough, with his tales about Beckham having a few tattoos in Latin and so forth and this gives the reader hope that the book will present a modern, vibrant approach to the subject. However, it soon becomes clear that this is a book more appropriate for those who rate an appearance of education above education itself. Mount himself seems to revel in the idea that a knowledge of Latin is important primarily for attempting to show off at dinner parties, and he clearly sees the subject as tool to beat the less educated with. A bitter taste soons builds up and one can't help feeling that it is exclusivism, rather than Latin, that Mount loves.

I wasn't clear whether Mount was trying to teach me Latin or not. His presentation of grammatical tables, without much in the way of explanation or context, would be of little help to someone wanting to learn the subject, and unnecessary for someone who knows the language. It wasn't clear to me why he included them at all, unless to fill up space. As someone who has learnt a number of languages I wouldn't advise anyone to use this book as a beginner.

By the end I was left feeling that the book had given rather a poor impression of Latin and I was less, rather than more, interested in the subject.

The book contains frequent vulgarities, making it inappropriate for children.
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on 12 April 2017
Does what is says on the tin. Best read in conjunction with a standard Latin text like Kennedy.
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