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Pompeii Paperback – Nov 2 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Of Canada (Nov. 2 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099282615
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099282617
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 11.2 x 3.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #332,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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By Tamar on May 9 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author uses English well, and if the reader enjoys authentically substantiated, historical fiction, this book is enjoyable. I liked in particular, the volcanology citations supporting the description of the cataclysm in which the story's embedded.
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By Vanessa Wells on March 21 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I did have to wonder how good a book would be when you know not only the ending but also quite a bit about the event before you start it. However, Robert Harris delivered with a nice little twist at the end. I also appreciated learning more about Roman technology through the point of view he used. A good read!
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By Dorothy Dewitte on March 8 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It was a good read but not on par with his other two about Rome. Am very glad I read the other two first or I would not have bothered after reading this one.
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Format: Paperback
Dateline, August 79 AD: Marcus Attilius Primus, a young, savvy aquarius, or water engineer, has been sent from Rome as replacement for the AWOL Exomnius to ensure the proper maintenance of Aqua Augusta, the aqueduct that supplies Pompeii, Herculaneum and the towns on the Bay of Naples. Investigation into the problem of the aqueduct drying up and its failure to deliver its critical liquid payload uncovers not only municipal theft of water and graft of epic proportions but natural problems and concerns relating to Vesuvius and its pending eruption - tremors, pollution of the water with sulphur emissions, rockfalls, and shifts and bulges in the earth's surface, not to mention breakages and blockages in the aqueduct itself.
Insofar as the eruption of Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum are concerned, we all know how the story ends. So it fell to Harris' skill as a writer to build and maintain momentum and suspense in spite of that. With the clever device of a brief excerpt from a scientific treatise on volcanism serving as a preface to every chapter plus absolutely scintillating descriptive writing, what might have been a monumentally boring exposition of the final few hours leading up to Vesuvius' cataclysmic eruption becomes rather a thrilling natural history page turner that actually had my stomach twisted up into knots as I felt the clock ticking toward the inevitable catastrophe!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carol TOP 100 REVIEWER on Feb. 15 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So interesting! The details of the underground water system that existed in ancient Italy were fascinating as well as the politics that surrounded the control of this system. Marcus Attilius is a wonderful character and the book follows his discoveries, engineering talents, attempts to help all manner of people and his hopes for love. Very well written and easy to read ... hard to put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tommy Tom Tom on Aug. 16 2007
Format: Paperback
Pompeii isn't great literature, let's admit that, but if you are looking for a good page-turner and have an interest in history, this is a really good choice.

The plot and the characters are mostly secondary devices. The important thing is that Harris paints a nice portrait of Roman life just before the eruption of Vesuvius, and makes us curious about what kind of havoc the volcano will wreck on the Roman towns and people that we've been reading about.

Even more interesting is the fact that Harris has obviously read all the Roman accounts he could of the eruption, and many of the little details about what happened, especially regarding Pliny, are taken from contemporary descriptions of the disaster.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Ljunggren on Aug. 19 2006
Format: Paperback
Pompeii marks the partial return to form of Robert Harris, who burst onto the scene a few years ago with the magnificent "Fatherland". He followed that with "Enigma", another thriller set in World War Two which was interesting but flawed, and then produced the absolutely appalling "Archangel". I've had "Pompeii" on my shelves for a while now, not daring to read the book in case it also turned out to be a stinker. I finally read it a few days ago and am glad that I did.

If you're going to set a book in the few days before Vesuvius explodes, the main challenge is to produce a narrative which can engage the reader who knows perfectly well that the volcano is about to extinguish Pompeii, Herculaneum and other nearby towns, ending life in the region. "Pompeii" tells the story of the young water engineer Marcus Attilius, who is given his job after his veteran predecessor disappears. Soon there is a break in the Aqua Augusta, the immense viaduct which brings water to several towns near Vesuvius. Attilius is charged with first finding and then fixing the disruption but runs into big and potentially fatal problems when it becomes clear his investigations will pose all sorts of embarrassing problems for the local elite.

As ever, Harris writes exceedingly well. He has done his research and you can feel the sweat running down the backs of the overworked labourers in the shadows of the volcano, hear the insects buzzing all around and smell the ancient and exceedingly expensive wine offered to pompeii's luminaries. The main problem with the book is that Attilius never really comes to life. He is an honest young man pitched into a sea of corruption, someone trying to forget the recent death of his young wife, yet he stays largely on the page, rarely engaging the reader. That said, "Pompeii" is worth reading for the description of the volcanic blast alone.
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