18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
wonderful little book,
This review is from: The Colosseum (Wonders of the World) (Hardcover)
All the reviews here so far were written on the tourist side, not the scholar's. The great merit of this book, in my view, is that it fits both audiences in a very nice manner. Scholars would of course expect a more exhaustive treatment, but it's striking that there are almost no other academic books devoted to the subject of the Colosseum. Many studies on this building and other amphitheatres concentrate on technical, architectural issues, but this book offers concise and clear analyses on social aspects of gladiators, the interpretations of the Colosseum through the ages (a fascinating part!) and other varied issues. Profs. Hopkins and Beard are two leading authorities in Roman History, but their text is lively, fluent, good-humored and very pleasant - I wish all scholars could write like this! Therefore: for specialists, it's not a thorough book, but very welcoming all the same.
As for the occasional interested tourist, as others here have also said, this book is as useful, appealing and enjoyable as it can be. Having been to the Colosseum myself, though, I don't agree with the advice of getting there one hour before it closes (last entrance allowed is at 3PM). Packed crowds of tired tourists with noisy kids are better to be avoided if you want to take your time inside, so get there as early as you can. Also, like the authors, I strongly recommend a visit to the nearby Palatine - but get a good guide, so that you can understand the ruins you're seeing (use Oxford Archeological Guide, Coarelli's book, or even Blue Guide Rome).