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Pompeii: The Living City

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  179 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
***Please note that this ebook does not contain the photo insert that appears in the print book.***

The ash of Mt. Vesuvius preserves a living record of the complex and exhilarating society it instantly obliterated two thousand years ago. In this highly readable, lavishly illustrated book, Alex Butterworth and Ray Laurence marshal cutting-edge archaeological reconstructions
ebook, 368 pages
Published December 17th 2013 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Kirsti (Melbourne on my mind)
A very comprehensive look at life in Pompeii during the 20-odd years prior to CE79 and the eruption of Vesuvius. Lawrence is an archaeologist, and provides a well-researched and detailed narrative about the realities of life in the city, looking at health, housing, sex and prostitution, slavery, public venues, industry etc.

In contrast, Butterworth is a dramatist, who takes actual people from Pompeii's history and creates a fictional narrative around their daily lives to fit in with whatever sub
Filled with vivid detail about life in Pompeii and in first century Rome; I enjoyed it all the more since I've visited both Pompeii and Herculaneum. I particularly appreciated info on the economics and industries of the time. It never occurred to me when I was admiring the ruins of ancient Roman public rest rooms in Pompeii that one man's waste was another's valuable commodity. Urine was used by tanners, gold and silversmiths, dye-makers and fruit growers; indeed so coveted was the 'golden liqui ...more
Pete daPixie
Mar 01, 2011 Pete daPixie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-roman
At first I wasn't too sure about this books content. It is written by two authors, Butterworth and Lawrence. The former is a writer and dramatist, the latter a research fellow in archaeology and antiquity. With the two authors, there are two threads to 'Pompeii The Living City', published 2005.
Lawrence is very informative and covers the history of Pompeii and Campania from 54AD to the eruption of Vesuvius in August 79AD. Interwoven with the history is Butterworth's fictional narrative, that is b
Rio (Lynne)
3.5 Stars. I'm going to Pompeii in October, so I'm reading and watching all I can about it. This book was very interesting with the small details I was looking for. This book is more than just Pompeii, it's Roman history from the start of Pompeii to it's ruin. I enjoyed learning about Pompeii growing it's vineyards and pomegranates. I wasn't aware that a huge earthquake had struck 17 years prior to the final disaster and how the people were trying to rebuild. This book covers the actual people t ...more
May 10, 2015 Kara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-ancient

I was skeptical at first that book begins 20 years before the explosion of Vesuvius, but was soon hocked on the drama, both political and geographical, that had enveloped Pompeii in the decades before it was buried. Pompeii was directly affected by the events in Rome, and Rome underwent some rocky times in the First Century AD as emperors went mad and the reins of power suddenly became up for grabs.

You don’t call a year ‘The Year of Four Emperors’ because it was stable.

Oh, and there was also a
Linda Harkins
Mar 05, 2011 Linda Harkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoughtful reading of this history of the 25 years preceding the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79 provides answers to numerous questions. For example, were we not taught that Nero fiddled while Rome burned? Theatricality was involved, but Nero sang a lament to Troy as Rome smouldered. Was he articulating the grief of the citizenry or was this another political ploy? No doubt it was some of both.

The authors clarify many issues including the provision of a plausible argument to answer a questio
Dec 13, 2015 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
POMPEII, The Living City. (2005). A. Butterworth & R. Laurence. ***.
This was a well-written and well-researched account about the final days of this city on the Bay of Naples from the AD 50s to the fateful day in August AD 70, when Vesuvius erupted. I was not aware that so much about the day-to-day life of this city as was presented by the authors. Most of the information came, obviously, from archaeological data, but also from graffiti and citations from contemporary journals and histories.
May 26, 2012 rabbitprincess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Robert Harris's novel on Pompeii
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Robert Harris, via blurb
While not intended as a companion piece to Robert Harris's historical novel Pompeii, this book served that purpose very well. Indeed, Harris himself provides a complimentary quote on the front cover, stating that he wished this book had been available when he was researching his novel. That was enough to make me pick it up from the library.

This is a highly detailed look at Pompeiian society from about the AD 50s to AD 79, when the famous eruption of Vesuvius occurred. My knowledge of Ancient Rom
Jun 28, 2015 SeaShore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pompeii
The fires of Vesuvius destroyed Pompeii in 79 CE and as it was slowly uncovered in the mid eighteenth century, there are signs of dilapidation for various reasons.
This is a fascinating book so far, interspersed throughout with diagrams, drawings, maps, pictures of statues example the majestic face of Jupiter or a vivid image of a middle-aged Pompeian....

pg 54 shows a picture of a street leading to the Vesuvius Gate and the water castle. One-way streets existed but streets for what? Well, they do
Nancy Petralia
Jul 20, 2013 Nancy Petralia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italy
This is the first book that I've started as a library borrow, then bought twice (because I lost the first one) and when I finished, I turned to the first page to start over. It's absolutely fascinating.

The authors, one a research fellow in Roman archeology and history with 7 books to his credit, and the other a playwright, have combined their talents to bring first century AD as alive as any city today. The research is phenomenal (even the footnotes in the back are interesting) but the prose is
Jul 02, 2013 Clarissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating look at life in ancient Rome, but what a horrible violent culture! This book describes daily life for people of different social classes, alternating between history, and fictional sections that are written about people known to have lived at the time. The fiction is based on the little information that we have about real people, with more information about these people added in the history sections. The fiction sections were interesting, but also jarring since they interrupted the ...more
Feb 22, 2015 Holly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I've pretty much always been interested in natural disasters like Pompeii, but I didn't know a whole lot about it. So...I picked up a book on it!

However, I felt this was a very dry and difficult read. Sure, it tried to spice things up a little by writing some things in a narrative as though the dead were reliving parts of their lives, but that was about it. There are too many people to follow in this story, and I constantly forgot who was who. And the fact that their names are so similar did not
Tom Stallard
Jan 09, 2011 Tom Stallard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I'm rather conflicted about this book, because provides a detailed narrative about the rise and fall of Pompeii, as well as showing the archeological importance of the site to our broader understanding of Roman everyday life. However, it takes its narrative elements far too far. At the start of every chapter is a little piece of fiction that is more or less rooted in history, depending upon the chapter. I found these very distracting - not nearly high enough quality compared with the non-fiction ...more
Aug 05, 2011 Christie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why is this book a must-read? The detail is amazing! The author makes you feel as if you know the people of Pompeii, largely due to his use of the graffiti, documents found, and the archaeological record. It was fascinating to see the passage of time and events in the years leading to the city's destruction and the horrific deaths of its inhabitants. Did you know that Pompeii had suffered a terrible earthquake years before the big event? I didn't. The final chapter was a real page-turner but at ...more
Rose Joyce
Interesting history of Pompeii beginning 25 years before Vesuvius erupted and destroyed the city in 79 AD. Written as historical fiction in parts ( which are italicized) and as factual history. During much of that period Nero,the ambitious,artsy,vain and mother and wife murdering was emperor of Rome. and the author gives some information about his reign.
The author also goes into detail about the political, economic, religious and demographics of Pompeii.
The author also describes the geography of
Nov 24, 2012 Sayantan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deals with the 25 years before pompeii's destruction. Focusses more on little details like the lives of everyday people, but also takes care to explain the historical big picture.

Not a standard history of pompeii, rather a reconstruction of the lives of the people, their customs, their aspirations, hopes and fears, as they tread their way through major upheavals.

Mixes hardcore historical narration with speculation and outright fictitious accounts of characters quite well.

Sometimes the roman name
Nov 21, 2015 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love ancient roman history but this was odd in that it was the history of Pompeii the 20 or so years prior to volcano but it mixed that with fictional accounts which just felt oddly juxtaposed. Also (and this is totally my fault) but I got the eBook and they said no pictures, but I thought doesn't matter much but throughout the book they describe something and then mention (see this in Plate X) and each time I was like 'boo'. In any case, interesting and the description of the actual volcano r ...more
Dec 04, 2012 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent look at the last 25 years of the life of the city of Pompeii. It shows the reader the ordinary life of the city from the lowest (slaves, prostitutes, gladiators) to the highest (the emperor's villa's and city politics). You are also given a good overview of the various earthquakes in the lead up to the final volcanic explosion and the impact they had on city life. This is a lively, interesting and easy to read book for non-specialists on the last years of this fascinating city.

Jun 24, 2016 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought the book did a great job of living up to its title of describing a "living city". I have seen the city's remains and like all, I wondered at what life there must have been like before the event. The book does a great job of describing the times, people, what they did, etc. Now I need to revisit the place (also Ostia Antica which is similar but much less crowded).
May 18, 2009 lcee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting approach to academic historical writing. Exquisitely drawn thematic chapters, packed with interesting detail, are strung together by fictional vignettes of life in Pompeii as imagined by the author and based on obviously extensive research. I have very much enjoyed this book, although I am left, as ever, bewildered and disgusted by the cruelty of Roman society.
Fraser Sherman
Aug 02, 2015 Fraser Sherman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Less about the eruption that buried Pompeii than life in the Roman city and its surroundings in the two decades leading up to it: dealing with shifting imperial politics, complex local power rivalries, trading in fish paste and urine (very useful in everything from dying to tanning) and of course, sex and marriage. Really good.
Rjurik Davidson
Aug 11, 2011 Rjurik Davidson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good introduction to Pompeii, filled with colour and lively detail. The fictional vignettes can be a bit cheesy at times, and it's not always easy to know where any particular information is located. Still, overall an excellent place to begin.
Aug 22, 2011 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Always have a passion for history
Shelves: history-world
This is the kind of history that I love to digest. This is my second reading. I am reading it as I will be attending the exhibition and so happen that on 3 Sept 2011 I will be in New York to know more about it.Very well dramatise,history comes alive as if the dead has risen.
I had borrowed this book from the Phoenix Public Library back in October of 2011, but didn't get around to finishing it until June 2012. Not a bad book, but it did seem a bit dry to me. Not one that I need to own, but I'm glad I read it.
Or maybe this is the one that had the pictures of Pompeii, not sure because I didn't read either yet but still fasciniated with Pompeii, moreso now than before, will eventually get back to this...
Aug 03, 2007 Leigh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book, with a ton of information, but it is a bit dry. Great reference for anyone who wants a crash course on the ins and outs of daily Roman life.
Mar 08, 2014 Nisha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazingly detailed depiction of life in Pompeii before AD 79. I had hoped for more regarding the eruption itself, but that's not really the point of this book.
Aug 24, 2011 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating read as the authors do a brilliant job of describing life as it was at Pompeii just prior to the eruption of Vesuvius.
Saturday's Child
Oct 04, 2009 Saturday's Child rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book really brings to life not just the city of Pompeii but its inhabitants. This is for anyone who is interested in Pompeii and the period of time when Rome wielded its power.
Amy rated it really liked it
Dec 20, 2010
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Fact and Fiction 1 6 May 13, 2009 08:27PM  
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