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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  18,350 ratings  ·  1,307 reviews
»Ein Roman zum Verschlingen.«

»Das Buch tut alles, was ein literarisches Werk für das große Publikum in den Zeiten der Bildungskrise tun muss: Es belehrt und unterhält.«
Süddeutsche Zeitung

»Wieder einmal knüpft Robert Harris ein faszinierend dichtes Gewebe aus Fiktion und penibel recherchierter Geschichte.«
HörZu -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausga
Paperback, 379 pages
Published January 2004 by Heyne (first published 2003)
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Lance Greenfield
This is the story of a latter day Super Mario, an Italian plumber who overcomes very difficult challenges to fix the water supply to Napoli and surrounding areas before the local volcano erupts to ruin everything for everybody.

OK, I admit that I am grossly trivialising a tremendous story, which is really about Marcus Attilius Primus, the aquarius, or chief water engineer, who is sent to the Bay of Naples to manage the water supply to all of the towns in the area. The main artery of the supply i
Geology meets Volcanology meets All Round Mr Nice Guy.
Having read Imperium by Robert Harris few short months ago I found that I quite enjoyed his uncomplicated writing style. I in no way mean unsophisticated or simplistic, for he is an author who can comfortably shoulder the mantle of an old fashioned storyteller.
Many authors try to be story tellers, but they over write or have not the skill and under write, or get caught up in too many tangents, thinking that everything they do has to be with
Neil Pierson
It should be a Two-For-One: A suspense novel to take to the beach; and some insight into life in the Roman Empire and the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. (And maybe a small tutorial in primitive plumbing.) Unfortunately, it turns into an 0-For-One.

The plot is serviceable. Marcus Attilius Primus is an engineer newly in charge of the section of aqueduct that services Pompeii. He investigates the mysterious failure of the water supply and along the way, discovers that his predecessor was corrupt. He fall
Lisa Vegan
3 ½ stars

I have wanted to read this book for a decade

I’ve loved science, and particularly geology, from a very early age, and chose a science class in 5th grade that focused on volcanoes, so my interest is long standing.

I think a non-fiction book about this eruption, if it contained all the known information and conjectures, might have been an even better choice for me.

I got used the fictional story and it did provide a fairly good backdrop for the setting and happenings in that time and place.
Think you have pressure at work? Consider Marcus Attilius Primus. He just received an important promotion from Rome. The young engineer is now the Aquarius, in charge of the immense aqueduct serving the entire bay of Naples. His predecessor has mysteriously disappeared. His workers are surly. The water supply is interrupted. And then he gets on the wrong side of one of the richest men around, a cruel former slave, the behind-the-scenes political boss of Pompeii. Of course, he does have a very be ...more
I recently read classicist Mary Beard's fascinating non-fiction book on Pompeii. This novel by Robert Harris is in many ways a nice complement to that, especially since it is narrated by a Roman engineer responsible for the aqueduct that supplied water to the coastal towns on the Bay of Naples, Pompeii among them. We think of the Romans as conquerors, of building a civilization based upon conquest. But Roman engineering was as much, if not more, of a driving force, and the Romans' ability to har ...more
After a day in Pompeii -- my mother claims I walked through every single house: not true, some are inaccessible -- I heard people on the platform of the Circumvesuviana local train talking about this book. I was being fussy about everything else I was reading, so I grabbed this on the Kindle store and kicked back with it (once we eventually got back to Rome, anyway; I read The Map of Time on the Eurostar).

It's a quick read, and reasonably accurate to the interpretations of what happened in Pompe
Jan 07, 2008 Rosianna rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rosianna by: Mr Lapish
Absolutely fantastic, and entirely unputdownable. At first you're unsure what kind of route Harris is going to take on Vesuvius' eruption as it opens with talk of aqueducts and engineers, but in the space of a few hundred pages, he recreates the bay of Naples vividly and realistically, so you really do feel get an idea of the timescale and the emotions, all built in to this great read.
Sam Quixote
The waters have stopped flowing from the aquedect - who you gonna call? Dambusters! The water engineer heads out amid widespread corruption in Pompeii, thwarts a murder plot, finds out what happened to his predecessor, falls in love, and investigates the ominous rumbling from the nearby Vesuvius.

Sounds good no? Harris is good at building up the air of menace in the days preceding the eruption. Every action can be looked at as minor compared to the devastation coming and he really does a great j
I'm not that much into historical novels, there are only some exceptions. For example I hugely enjoyed Rutherfurds "London". I also like to read about real historical events sometimes, that's why I picked up Pompeii. Very fascinating how much power nature has. Just imagine a fountain of rock and ashes that is shot into the sky and several miles high!!!!

The (for the most part) fictional story is interesting, imaginable und enthralling to some extend. It's also informative. And of course I had to
Natürlich geht es bei Pompeji letztlich um den wohl bekanntesten Vulkanausbruch der Menschheitsgeschichte, bei dem der Vesuv im Jahr 79 n. Chr. ebendiese Stadt vollkommen unter Asche und Lava begrub. Dennoch geht Harris einen sehr interessanten Weg und lässt eine Handlung entstehen, in der zunächst der Ausbruch des Vulkans nur in Vorzeichen angedeutet wird. Die meiste Energie geht stattdessen in die Erzählung über einen Aquarius (den Bauer und Pfleger von Aquädukten), der sich darum kümmern soll ...more
A tremendous book, one of my reads of the year (a difficult thing, considering how many good books I've encountered recently) and one of the finest historicals I've ever read. Harris turns out to be an eminently readable author who has a way of making dry facts and figures interesting, as the text is interspersed with engaging descriptions that do nothing to slow the breakneck narrative down.

The reason that POMPEII is such a good read is that it works without the volcanic eruption - take out Ves
[Name Redacted]
My girlfriend's drunken "aunt" insisted I read this book, and apparently she has good taste. It's an interesting mix of pulp, disaster, apocalyptic and historical fiction. The writing is clear, the pacing brisk and the characters are immediately identifiable as separate individuals despite their unwieldy name-chains. The excerpts from modern scientific discourses on vulcanology which open each chapter, coupled with the quotations from classical authors in the body of the text, help ground the na ...more
May 17, 2007 Lily rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in history
I read this book after doing the archaeological excavation at Pompeii and found it to be very realistic in it's portrayal of life in the city before the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. This book is centered around a geologist and hydraulic engineer that are researching they mystery of why the water in Pompeii isn't flowing like it should. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone that has visited the ruins of Pompeii or the Roman Empire or is interested in the day to day life of peopl ...more
Ron Charles
One cataclysmic disaster can ruin your whole day, but at least it has the advantage of surprise. That's more than can usually be said for stories about cataclysmic disasters, which lumber toward their climax like some bore telling a multipart joke you've already heard. Who honestly didn't feel the urge to push a few heads under water to speed up James Cameron's interminable "Titanic"? We endure documentaries about German aerodynamics because we want to see the Hindenburg in flames. "Oh, the bana ...more
Feb 24, 2008 Imogen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People with a vague interest in Roman history
Recommended to Imogen by: My Chemistry Teacher
I really liked the begining of this book and read half of it in one day hiding just below my desk at school. The opening isn't quite what you expect from a novel about a volcano but gave a really interesting insite in to life t the time as well as the worings of the rather genius roman aqueducts which i really didn't know much about. But a day later I found myself picking up a different book (never a good thing, I'm aweful at finishing one book before starting another). Pompeii just got left to ...more
A sort of novelized amalgamation of some of Pliny the Younger's letters with a bit of Frontinus' "Aqueducts" and parts of Vitruvius thrown in. This book tells the story of the last days of Pompeii (as did another book entitled appropriately enough "The Last Days of Pompeii" by Edward Bulwer-Lytton).

In his take Harris paints the well known volcanic events as a sort of mystery that must be solved by a young aquarius (aqueduct engineer) named Attilius. Attilius must not only figure out what's goin
In 79 AD, a new Aquarius is appointed to the area around Pompeii.

There has been a water shortage in the cities around Pompeii and Marcus Attilius Primus is sent to find the problem and correct it.

Attilius begins to investigate a possible fault in the aqueduct while certain officials try to stop him becuase they fear he will learn that they have manipulated the water for their own profit.

There is excellent drama as the action begins two days before Veseuveus errupts. Attilius investigates the pr
Dec 19, 2008 melydia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of historical fiction
I'm not usually much for historical fiction, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It is the well-known story of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, but told from a slightly different perspective: the engineer of the aqueduct, dealing with a drought, a pipe blockage, and strange smells of sulfur in the water. In addition to the science (which I found fascinating - Roman technology was amazing), there is plenty of personal and political intrigue to keep the plot rolling along. This fun little book made ...more
I gave this book 4 stars because the protagonist (Marcus Attilius Primus) and I share the same profession - that of being a civil engineer. I was fascinated by the Aqua Augusta, the aqueduct that brought fresh water to people in nine towns around the Bay of Naples including Pompeii.

True, we all at least know what happened in Pompeii due to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. So at first I was a bit unsure about reading this fictionalized account of one of the most infamous cataclysms in human histor
Sue Smith
Again - my rating is more of a 3.5 than a 4, but I upped the rating because it was so nice to read about someone else having a wee bit of heat in their lives. Well, until the mountain exploded anyways. Then I felt a little sorry for their lot.

It was actually kind of fun to read a fictional book about a catastrophe that we all know about and marvel over. It would have been quite a thing to witness actually and this book lets you be a witness to the tragedy without any of the trauma to your person
Monica Davis
Overall 3.5 stars...4 stars for the story, but it fell short in character development for me. Not much depth to set the characters in this tale apart from those in any other novel about the time period: an overbearing father, a defiant daughter, a submissive wife, etc. Having previously read Harris's Imperium and Conspirata I was expecting Pompeii to be more on par with those works, but it wasn't quite there. Still, it was an enjoyable read.
Liza Perrat
In a sweltering week of August A.D. 79, the wealthy of Rome are enjoying the summer in their sumptuous villas around Pompeii and Herculaneum. But when the water flow from springs and wells start to falter, and the greatest aqueduct in the world––the Aqua Augusta––ceases to flow, the aquarius, Marcus Attilius Primus, fears these ominous signs point to some greater impending disaster.
When water flow to the coastal town of Misenum is interrupted, Attilius convinces the admiral of the Roman fleet––
I'm always curious how an author (or a director in the case of Titanic) is going to take a situation about whose tragic outcome we are already aware and attempt to render it nevertheless suspenseful and narratively driving, and Robert Harris succeeds here beyond all expectation. In terms of books that have made an indelible impression on my memory in the recent past, this is at the top of the list. For pure force of visualization, detail that is not only brilliant and vivid - and bone-chilling - ...more
book-off used bookstore special, $2!

Robert Harris, who wrote the 1992 Nazis-won-the-war alternate history/detective novel Fatherland seems to have a special talent in characterizing completely different universes. not one to operate in the gray rain-and-clouds skudding London or the crystal-drinking global capitals jet-setter demimondes, Harris, who according to his Goodreads bio, was president of the Cambridge union and editor of the Varsity, might be a reflection of the decline of standards in

كيف تكتب عن كارثة؟ هذا هو السؤال الذي سيجابه أي كاتب روائي يحاول نزع الصفة الإخبارية عن كارثة ما، وإبراز الوجه الإنساني منها، مشكلة هذا النوع من الكتابة هو أن الكوارث ضخمة، معقدة في أسبابها وأحداثها وآثارها، ومتضمنة في داخلها الكثير من البشر، فلذا يلجأ الكتاب إلى الحيلة إياها، أي التركيز على وجوه من وجوه الكارثة، وجعله الصورة الكبيرة، أو الرمز للكارثة، وتعريف القارئ على عدد محدود من الشخصيات التي ستتعرض أو ستتأثر بهذه الكارثة، وعادة يتعرف بهم القارئ قبل حدوث الكارثة حتى يمكن له أن يبنى معه
Jul 05, 2012 Sylvia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sylvia by: my art history teacher
4-stars for Pompeii. It's written with a fast pace and it kept me reading. That's a good benchmark for a book. I was tempted to give it 5-stars, but AMAZING is too much credit. The story is a nice love story, set against the backdrop of the eruption of the Vesuvius in August 79 AD.

This book was recommended by my art history teacher. She enjoyed it, as it gives a nice view of Roman life in Pompeii and the surrounding villages and towns some 48 hours before the devasting catastrophy, which wiped
I wasn't prepared to like this book as much as I did, since I'm not a fan of historical fiction. However, the excerpts from modern scientific discourses on vulcanology which open each chapter, coupled with the quotations from classical authors in the body of the text, add a depth of research which I came to respect. The best review I found is from the NY Times, and bears quoting here:

"The Age of Aquarii" by Daniel Mendelsohn, NY Times, December 21, 2003

"Plinian: a volcanic eruption in which a narrow blast of gas is ejected with great violence from a central vent to a height of several miles before it expands sideways."
Tudor Ciocarlie
I've listened to this in preparation for the trip to Pompeii. Excellent narration and a very good historical fiction.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Robert Dennis Harris (born 7 March 1957 in Nottingham) is a best-selling English novelist. He is a former journalist and BBC TV reporter. He specialises in historical thrillers noted for their literary accomplishment. His books have been translated into some thirty languages
More about Robert Harris...
Fatherland Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Cicero, #1) Enigma The Ghost An Officer and a Spy

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