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Pompeii Awakened: A Story of Rediscovery

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1845112417
ISBN-10: 1845112415
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Editorial Reviews

Review

""A thrilling story, and a wonderful subject for a book. Judith Harris has done it full justice."" - John Julius Norwich
 
""Judith Harris skilfully interweaves the story of the town’s evacuation with the development of archaeology and insights into life in Roman times…The tale emerges from the pages as vibrantly as Pompeii does from the shroud of time."" - Italian
 
“[An] entertaining account of the rediscovery of the buried city . . . offer[s] colorful and sometimes acute insights into the modern history of Pompeii” --Times Literary Supplement
 
""Harris treats her readers to insightful observations about the political, culutral, and economic backgrounds of the times, occasionally reminiscent of Barbara Tuchman in her grasp of historical context."" -- John Merrill, Biblical Archaeology Review

About the Author

Judith Harris has, for 25 years, conducted a weekly radio broadcast on Italian culture - especially archaeology - for the Italian national network, RAI. She has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine and The New Republic.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: I. B. Tauris (June 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845112415
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845112417
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,377,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. S. Jordan on July 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book of Judith Harris's is a refreshing and humorous slant on the discovery of Pompeii. It reveals the newest artifacts uncovered as well as the latest information about prior discoveries. I especially liked the face of a woman peering out of the mud and the pride and embarrassment of finding sexual artifacts and what owners did with them. You could tell that Ms Harris was very familiar with the event and area. Plus, her writingwas picturesque and flowing. I am going to give it to all of my friends with even the slightest interest in Pompeii.
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Pompeii Awakened is not quite what I'd expected it to be. Having recently seen the Pompeii exhibit at the Minnesota Science Museum in St. Paul, I'd expected a catalogue of finds and their cultural and historical significance, more of an interpretation of the site in terms of its place in the history of the world. Instead what the book presents is an ongoing history of the site as a cultural artifact, one which has/had value to those who were in control of it at any given time. It is also the story of an archaeological oddity that has had a significant and ongoing impact on world culture by virtue of its unique preservation. Roman culture has always had a place in Western civilization, guaranteed by the survival of its language and literature, especially through the agency of the Roman Catholic Church. The words of Ovid, Terrance, Horace, Cicero, and Caesar brought ideas to later generations that inspired the shaping and reshaping of the world, but they were only words, second hand impressions at best. With Pompeii, the lives of the Romans became almost unbearably real. Here later generations could peak into the lives of the ancients as they were in progress, interrupted by the disaster that preserved them.

While not an historian or archaeologist herself, the author, Judith Harris, is a journalist of some distinction and a US expatriate who has lived and worked in Italy most of her life. Her familiarity with Italy and its people has allowed her to present Pompeii as a cultural entity, subject to the whims of the King of Naples among others. She uses the buried city as a proxy for the history of Italy as a whole. In a collection of loosely united city states, the Italian people struggled to achieve a national identity long after other countries had already succeeded in doing so.
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Good concept for a book - the history of excavation of the Beloved Site. Found the illustrations uninteresting and non-germane. A litho of Bulwar-Lytton? Yawn. The glossies in the middle of the book were equally uninteresting. Who really cares about a pix of the San Carlo opera house that first staged the production of The Last Days of Pompeii? And whoever proofread this thing needs a course in Warriner's Grammar. On the whole, though, I enjoyed the research and the cleverly defined divisions of the history of the excavations and the bewildering cast of characters. Finally good to see in print that most of the great Roman/Pompeiian art housed in the famous museums was ripped off from hapless Neopolitan rulers, mostly by sleazy French and British plunderers. Oh, yeah, the book....the rhetoric was engaging and contemporary. Studying and visiting Pompeii is my passion. This book enriched my understanding. I'd recommend it with slight reservation.
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The author gives you a lot of facts. Not just about the discovery of Pompeii but details of the curators and owners of the land where Pompeii was buried. I did find at least one interesting thing in each chapter. But after the third chapter the book contains quite a bit of boring information.
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