Saturday, July 18, 2015

From Pompeii: The Afterlife of a Roman Town


Rating: 3 Stars


First I have to say that the cover is perfect, and is what caught my attention right away. I am a firm believer in the importance of cover art and this was just too beautiful and sad to pass up. I am especially fond of black and white photos, particularly when modern photos are taken this way (which does kind of sound strange to say since Pompeii is anything but modern in itself). Plus, I am a sucker for anything related to Vesuvius and Pompeii, so there's that too.

Unfortunately, I should have read the inside flap to get a bit more info about what the book was actually about. I was looking more for a text related to "life" in Pompeii since the eruption, primarily a focus on the excavation work that has been done in the last few decades. Instead, this was more a social history of how actors, writers, artists, and various others have experienced the ruins of this once-thriving city. It doesn't make it a bad book by any means, it just was not what I thought it would be or what I was looking for.

I particularly enjoyed the last chapter - or perhaps enjoyed is the wrong word, since it related much to how Pompeii is neglected and slowly being eroded and destroyed by all manners of natural means and otherwise. But I enjoyed it because the focus was Pompeii itself, a city I very much would like to see one day. I only hope it still exists when I get the chance.

The idea of Vesuvius erupting again is not something to be dismissed lightly and I found the information on the evacuation process interesting. As one can imagine, this will not be an easy task to evacuate the 3.5 million people living in the area. Still, these people know the risks, and many have lived on the same land as their ancestors, some of the families going back several generations. It would not be easy to just leave all that behind.

In the end, recommended for those who are interested more in a cultural history of the site since 79 AD. For those looking more for a book with a archaeological focus, you could pass on this one.

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