Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pompeii: The Living City by Alex Butterworth

Pompeii is a well- researched historical non-fiction that examines life in the Roman city of Pompeii. The book begins with the arrival to power of Nero, a vibrant new Emperor. The twenty-five years preceding the eruption of Vesuvius are detailed in many aspects, including economic, social, and political problems as well as greatness. The eruption of Vesuvius, and the subsequent burial to the city under volcanic ash and mud, is considered to be one of the most catastrophic events faced by the great ROman Empire. As the authors explain, it is nearly impossible to positively date artifacts so far back in antiquity and since the initial discovery and excavation of Pompeii began in the eighteenth century, much of that work has to be deciphered as well. This book tells a story based on the understanding of the authors and many scholars to allow readers to discover Pompeii for themselves without sorting through the tremendous amount of artifacts made available through the discovery of Pompeii.

I really liked the authors' style in introducing individual chapters, and different time periods with short stories showing emotion and daily activities. This book, I believe, is intended for individuals interested in the social sciences. It is not necessarily a quick read to pass the time in the afternoon, although the authors do an excellent job of putting their tremendous research into an understandable story. Readers will definitely learn a great deal, but patience is the key when dealing with historical non-fiction. I like how the book has a specific aim and provides a lot of detail in presenting the twenty-five years preceding the eruption Vesuvius. I also appreciate the fact that the authors do not assume great amounts of previous knowledge regarding the subject. Overall, not everyone will enjoy this but it is a great book.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 7
Reviewer Age: 18
Reviewer City, State and Country: Kansas City, MO USA