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Paperback Pompeii Book

ISBN: 0099282615

ISBN13: 9780099282617


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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good


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Book Overview

BESTSELLER - "Terrific... gripping... A literally shattering climax." -- The New York Times Book Review All along the Mediterranean coast, the Roman empire's richest citizens are relaxing in their... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Romans do not Suspect, yet the Vesuvius is going to Explode.

Plaza & Janes has some very popular pocket book collections as the present "Best Seller" or "Reno". It is a great fortune for low-budget Spanish-speaking readers to have access to popular novels thru this series. Robert Harris (1957) is a successful English novelist. He started his writing career as a journalist, continued writing some non-fiction books till he wrote his first great success: "Fatherland" (1992) an alt-his novel exploring a world where Germany won WWII. After writing some more noteworthy novels Harris has turned his attention to the fascinating world of Ancient Rome (one of my preferred themes) starting with "Pompeii" (2003) and more recently issuing the first volume of an intended trilogy about Cicero. In order to write "Pompeii", Harris has done a good historical research that reflects all over the novel. Details about daily life, social organization, technical & building methods and transportation amongst other items are blended seamlessly into the main argument. Does this mean that the book is boring? By no means, Harris is able to show all these features and at the same time construct an engaging story that will trap the reader. The story is as follows: a young hydraulic engineer (aquarius for the Romans) is urgently sent from Rome to the Bay of Naples zone to investigate what's going on with the great aqueduct that services the whole area. Pending his investigation Attilus will become embroiled into local political affairs, corruption is old as human society and, fortunately, young incorruptible people too. At the same time as every reader knows Mount Vesuvius is going to violently explode erasing Pompeii and Herculaneum. This event is the real focus & prima donna of the story. "Pompeii" is a short and very commendable historical novel that will be fully enjoyed by history buffs and general public too! Reviewed by Max Yofre.

Outstanding historical fiction

"Pompeii" was my first foray into historical fiction and it was quite interesting. It took me a few chapters to get used to the idea that the event (the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius on 24th August 79 CE) was true, but the characters were not. I also had to catch myself a few times while reading this because I started asking, "This really happened?" If an author is able to do that, then he/she has done their job of drawing you into their world. The book starts off with an explanation of the superior Roman system of telling time and their ancient names for the days of the week and months. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the modern era's names for the above are close to those of that time. It never fails to amaze me that we have access to detailed information about everyday things that were around close to 2,000 years ago - and it's accurate! Unfortunately, it took a catastrophic eruption to preserve ancient history (I've read quite a few times that the ash made the city into a life-sized time capsule with the way it settled). Harris did a great job of documenting the buildup to the eruption through the aquarius Marcus Attilius, his fictional telling of the corruption of the ultra-rich of Pompeii (which could very well be based in fact, as I've read that numerous times in as many books), and who could forget to mention those numerous brothels? It was a shame that so many people had to die because of the lack of knowledge of volcanoes, but when something is dormant for so long you're led to believe it's a dead volcano (and it was generations before Vesuvius came back to life, so the knowledge that it was dangerous was long gone by the time Pompeii became an important port city). So before people ridicule the Pompeiians for their lack of knowledge of Vesuvius, I would like to remind them of a little incident known as Mount St. Helens in Washington State. Even though there wasn't the loss of life near the scale of Pompeii with that eruption, there was no excuse to not know about that as 1980 is not ancient history! This was one gem that was collecting dust on my bookshelf. I decided it was time to see what this was all about and was not disappointed in the least. I know there are other fictional accounts on the same subject, but this is a good start. And I'm elated to have read this knowing that Roman Polanski is going to direct the (rather expensive) movie adaptation of this soon. I'm rather eager to see how he brings the timeless beauty of Pompeii to life and how he's going to interpret the eruption and the ensuing chaos for the big screen. This was an enjoyable read. Harris's sources are excellent and his research was impeccable. - Donna Di Giacomo

Pompeii Comes Alive

Pompeii by Robert Harris has received some excellent reviews, and it was on the strength of these that I decided to read the book. I was not disappointed. Mr. Harris does have the gift of giving his reading the feel of a place and time. He breathes life into the late first century and presents the many facts and customs in a way that sparks interest and not boredom. The novel begins on August 22, 79 CE, and the chapters are cleverly organized following the Roman hours of the day and also give the actual hour when the events are taking place. Each chapter is prefaced with an excerpt from a technical work on volcanology that provides the reader with an idea of the activity going on inside Mount Vesuvius. The story revolves around the Aqua Augusta, an aqueduct that the protagonist of the story, Marcus Attilius Primus, first becomes the aquarius (the person responsible for maintaining the structure) of the aqueduct and then searches for a break that prevents the flow of water to the drought stricken countryside. Atillius is a noble character, an imperial official who takes pride in his work and is incorruptible. But he is now in the self-proclaimed city-on-the-make: Pompeii.Along the way we meet Ampliatus, a wealthy freedman who is, ironically, marrying his daughter to Popilius, his old master. Ampliatus represents a long line of uncouth and ambitious freedmen that came to dominate the principate in the early empire under Claudius and Nero. Mr. Harris paints a probing and revealing portrait of Ampliatus and draws an inevitable comparison with Trimalchio of Petronius' Satyricon, with the freedman presiding over a similar overly sumptuous banquet Ampliatus. As a classicist, I found the banquet scene a little too reminiscent of the novel by Petronius. The characterization was a little too close and I did not want a parody of that famous literary banquet scene. However, I think Mr. Harris more than makes up for identifying his character so closely with Petronius by giving him a darker and more ruthless side. Ampliatus' daughter Corelia is the conscience that her father does not have. She is a teenager of marriageable age and chafes under the ruthless nature of her father and her own helplessness before her own loveless marriage. The novel presents an interesting portrait of Pliny the Elder that I found captured his interest in the world around him and his battle of filling his days with as much activity as possible. We also have the embittered Corax; the overseer of the men who maintain the aqueduct, an enemy of Attilius, who is ready to do anything to get rid of the "new man in town." A central part of the story is the mysterious disappearance of Atillius' predecessor Exomnius. Is he alive or dead? Little by little Attilius pieces together Exomnius' background and his association with Ampliatus, a revelation that places his life in jeopardy. In the background is Vesuvius. We know the catastrophe that is about to happen and look on a

Well researched, well written

An enjoyable, well written and well researched book gives an interesting insight into Roman engineering, science, business customs and daily life. Set in Pompeii, starting two days prior to the erruption is a story of love woven on a sound historical and scientific base (interestingly enough Plinius features in the story). Easy to read and enjoyable, albeit short (large print and double spaces are used to extend the number of pages to a respectable minimum for a book), a recommended read.

Excellent historical thriller

Harris, author of the acclaimed thriller's Fatherland and Archangel, has a hard task here: He must eke out suspense in a tale to which the final outcome will be known by every reader. Pompeii could well fall flat on its face, but instead it is a remarkable triumph. It straddled the bestseller lists in the UK for about 4 weeks, and should garner a similar reaction across the pond.Its high summer along the Bay of Naples. The merchants are trading, the tourists are visiting, and the rich are lounging in their villas by the ocean. But all is not well...Recently installed Chief Engineer of the Aqua Augustus Maximus Atillius Primus senses trouble; springs have been failing for the first time in years, his predecessor remains missing, and fish have been dying in their pools. Everything indicates a problem with the aqueduct, a disruption somewhere on the sixty-mile mainline, on the Northern slopes of the great mountain Vesuvius. Then, one by one, the towns around the bay begin to loose their water supply...One might think that because the reader automatically knows the outcome of the book (a horrendous eruption) it might be a little dull, but that is not true at all. Harris skirts the pitfalls presented by this potential lack of suspense by creating some great characters whose fates the reader cares about. Will they perish? Will they somehow escape? He also manages to weave in some excellent themes, most notably the slight shadowy parallels he draws between Rome, the superpower of the time, and modern-day America, and the subtle message that even a great power is irredeemably vulnerable when confronted by great unexpected destruction from within. In a way, he is warning us about complacency, but, more importantly, he is displaying how all the power in the world can not ensure our safety or complete peace-of-mind in this modern day-world, exactly as it could not then. It's rather clever how the book seems to reach across the years. The historical detail is amazing, and the atmosphere - at first relaxed, then later full of fear - is built expertly. He makes everything so interesting. Certainly, I never would have believed I could enjoy reading about the workings of an ancient aqueduct! (Actually, there might be a little too much detail on the engineering ins-and-outs.) The pace is good, and the book is, often inexplicably - the beginning, the scene-setting, threatens to grow dull once or twice - a complete page-turner. It moves softly, until the final 100 pages, which are absolutely brilliant. Possibly the best final 100 pages I've read this year. Suddenly, the book explodes along with Vesuvius. The pace cracks like a whip and suddenly everything's full of electricity and terror as everyone flees and rushes about confused. Everything progresses in tense bursts and then aching graduality, with painfully slow descriptions of people trying to wade through thick ash, for example. It is a very effective juxtaposition. Pompeii has everything: it is impeccably wr

Pompeii Mentions in Our Blog

Pompeii in Increasing Your Vocabulary on National Dictionary Day
Increasing Your Vocabulary on National Dictionary Day
Published by Bianca Smith • October 16, 2017
October 16 is National Dictionary Day - a booklover’s dream day. No, we’re not going to proclaim the differences between Merriam-Webster and Oxford. Did you know that reading increases your vocabulary?
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