About this title:
The headings of Mary Beard's notes give a taste of this astonishing book: Bad Breath, Intestinal Parasites, Performing Monkeys, One-way Streets, Kosher Food, Water Shortages. The Temple of Isis serves to bring in multiculturalism. The House of the Menander tells how a house worked. At the Suburban Baths we go from communal bathing to hygiene to erotica. 154 writing tablets from the House of Caecilius Jucundus detail the accounts of its owner. A fast-food joint on the Via dell' Abbondanza introduces food and drink and diets and street life. These are just a few of the strands that make up an extraordinary and involving portrait of an ancient town, its life and its continuing re-discovery, by Britain's leading classicist.
How exciting to have this perfect vademecum - another word for a guidebook, as all you Latin scholars will know, or literally, a "go-with-me". (Harry Mount Independent on Sunday)
[a] brilliant portrait of "the life of a Roman town"... [a] wonderful book. (James McConnachie Sunday Times)
Beard's cheerful scepticism makes her Pompeii more intriguing, more believable, than any version I have read. (Christian Tyler FT)
A vivid demonstration that sceptical scholarship can provide as gripping a read as sensationalism... a learned and fascinating book. (Tom Holland Guardian 2008-09-20)
Such verve and such mesmerising detail...A work of punctilious and scholarly devotion. (Ian Thomson Evening Standard 2008-09-22)
A vivid and engaging portrait of this enigmatic and historically important town (Clover Stroud Sunday Telegraph 2008-09-14)
Fresh and original, Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town makes history come alive ( Daily Express)
Dynamically, wittily and authoritatively brings the ancient world to life (Simon Sebag Montefiore Standard 2008-11-17)
The book begins in darkness with desperate fugitives attempting to outrun the deadly flow. It ends with a practical guide to viewing the site, right down to tipping the lavatory attendants ... It is an odd justaposition, but an inspired one. Few could resist a visit having read Mary Beard's compelling account. (Elizabeth Speller Independent 2008-10-03)
What Mary Beard , one of the most distinguished Roman historians in the English-speaking world, has given us here is a delightfully readable account ... [She] has the facility for bringing all [the] characters to life ...without sacrificing scholarly accuarcy. (John Dillon Irish Times 2008-09-20)
Her intelligence is ever alert, probing, questioning accepted stereotypes. She has the scepticism proper to the true historian. She repeatedly offers pithy and illuminating judgements. ... This is a fascinating book. (Alan Massie Literary Review 2008-10-10)
I'm tempted to say if you read one book of history this year it should be Pompeii. Not just because it is written with a rare mixture of scrupulous scholarship and a relaxed conversational narrative drive - Beard seems actually to like her readers, which is rare among serious scholars - but becuase Pompeii itself matters. (Michael Bywater New Statesman 2008-09-22)
My advice? Buy this book before you go - all trips to Pompeii, armchair or actual, will be inordinately enhanced. (Bettany Hughes Times 2008-10-18)
A forensic adventure through the back alleys and the mansions of a dead city, checking the beds, the looms, the loos, what time the carts rolled in the streets, what was for breakfast and the politics going down in the Forum ... a proper detcitive story ... a wonder (Michael Pye Scotsman 2008-09-20)
She makes the dead of Pompeii spring to life. (Raymond Carr Spectator 2008-09-13)
This is ancient history as it should be written and the invaluable companion to any trip to Pompeii. (Giles Foden Conde Nast Traveller 2008-10-04)
Much of what you think you know about Pompeii may turn out, on reading this eye-opening book, to be wrong. ...Beard always wears her learning lightly, and in this outstanding book she has excelled herself ...gripping (Andrew Holgate Sunday Times (Christmas Books Roundup) 2008-11-30)
Mary Beard is a wonderful and amusing companion and explainer. If you ever go to Pompeii, read this first. (Boris Johnson Irish Mail on Sunday 2009-01-04)
A vivid demonstration that sceptical scholarship can provide as gripping a read as sensationalism ... a learned and fascinating book.
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