Mary Beard's academic standing and wide-ranging research sits lightly on her style of exposition. She is carefully critical of past and recent research, with only the very occasional flash of irritation at what she considers extravagant or slipshod deductions of evidence in the archeological studies she mentions. The city of Pompeii and its population are scrupulously and minutely revealed in all their moods, activities and foibles. For the more academic reader she supplies extensive primary and secondary sources for her assertions. The illustrations of wall paintings, graffiti, statuary and religious and domestic building design are meticulously explained. I would recommend this book to both the tourist and the student.