Synopses & Reviews
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, Butterworth and Laurence marshall cutting-edge archaeological reconstructions and a vibrant historical tradition dating to Pliny and Tacitus; they present a richly textured portrait of a society not altogether unlike ours, composed of individuals ordinary and extraordinary who pursued commerce, politics, family and pleasure in the shadow of a killer volcano. Deeply resonant in a world still at the mercy of natural disaster, Pompeii recreates life as experienced in the city, and those frantic, awful hours in AD 79 that wiped the bustling city from the face of the earth.
"The thriving ancient port city of Pompeii was memorably destroyed and its 20,000 to 30,000 inhabitants killed in A.D. 79 by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Archeologists have dug parts of the city out of the rubble, reconstructing its layout and life. Drawing on this evidence and on ancient writings on Pompeii, British popular historians Butterworth and Laurence splendidly recreate the bustling life of this Roman town, as well as the eruption. They tell of Umbricius Scaurus, one of the city's most respected businessmen, who grew wealthy manufacturing the culinary staple garum, a fermented fish sauce. We also read fictionalized accounts of other lives, such as Simulus, a smallholder happy to be farming a plot of rich soil, and Receptus, a slave whose new master made his life miserable. The authors vividly recreate the horrors of the earthquake in A.D. 62 that destroyed much of the town and the terrors of the volcanic eruption. They recount the heroic efforts of one woman to claw her way out of the rubble of the Villa of the Mysteries only to be killed by a new eruption. This is a first-rate and compelling history of an ancient city. 16 pages of color photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A compelling and yet highly detailed narrative. I only wish it had been available when I was researching my novel." - bestselling author Robert Harris
"An immensely evocative, well-written and powerful portrait of what life was really like in Pompeii." - Tom Holland, author of RUBICON
"Brings Pompeii startlingly alive once more" - History Today
"a vivid portrait of place and people before the cataclysms of AD 62 and 75" -Church Times
"accessible, wide-ranging and evocative and makes surprisingly compelling reading." - Catholic Times
"For those looking to be transported back to the living city, it will be hard to resist." - Oxford Times
About the Author
ALEX BUTTERWORTH and RAY LAURENCE are popular historians living in Britain.