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The Seven Hills of Rome: A Geological Tour of the Eternal City Paperback – May 13, 2007
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"The writing in this joint Italian-American volume is delightfully clear, and the book is full of helpful illustrations."---Ron Smith, Georgia Review
"This is a book of delights. A volcanologist and two geologists unpick the fabric of Rome, from its roots of silts and gravels overlain by volcanic flows to the summits of the seven hills."---Maggie McDonald, New Scientist
"This is a truly unusual book of great interest to amateur geologists, historians, and travelers.", Library Journal
"This fascinating and easy-to-read guidebook shows how the geography and geology of Rome allowed it to grow into the great center of civilization that it became. . . . This book is for travelers and readers interested in both history and geology.", Science News
"Rome we know as a museum of empires and faiths, architecture and art collections: this fascinating little book shows how it may be a museum of the earth as well."---Greg Woolf, Times Literary Supplement
"Now here's a tourist guide to Rome with a difference. . . .This isn't just a guide. The authors have also set out to awaken people to Rome's geological framework in the hope of making the city itself more sustainable."---Sarah Barnett, Geographical Magazine
"A detailed description."---Ingrid Rowland, New York Review of Books
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Sure, the photographs are not of first quality, but for a paperback of $15, they are good enough (pushing for color would have doubled the book price). Yet, some of the photographs are original, like the ones at the quarries. Also, the sinkhole diagrams are original, not even the local newspaper graphics department thought of that.
The author could have mentioned some other interesting facts (but didn't), like the Justice Department building ("Palazzaccio"), built with heavy travertine stone on a clay foundation, and the 1980 earthquake in Southern Italy which had a muffled effect in Rome due to the clay foundation.
Instead it deeply flawed by very bad writing.
The narrative is about as exciting as a glass
of cold spit and the sentence construction
reads as if it came from the pen of a sixth
grader who slept through English class.
On top of an impenetrable writing style the many
photographs are all black and white, even when
colour photographs or art work would have
been better (the line draws are wonderful for
the most part, clearly showing essential
The photographs further suffer
from poor quality/composition. For example
the photo’s on page 6, 8 and 9 showing the
Trevi Fountain at different scales are useless
without a magnifying glass, and a photo
interpreter’s loop would be even better.
Page 57 shows a sink hole that could be
from any part of the world and simply takes
up space to no real effect. Again and again
the photographs either add nothing to the
readers ability to understand the narrative or
indeed take away from the book.
1) page 91, the “church of San Vitate”
according to the legend it’s surrounded
by “debris. . .accumulated since medieval times”
But from the picture it looks like a fast food
restaurant under construction.
2) page 93, a picture of “Monte Testaccio”
which shows a grassy mound with bits of crumbling
masonry and a fence that could be Monte Testaccio
or could be a grassy mound in NJ.
3) p112, caption “you can see evidence of the gradual
slumping movement in the curved trunks of trees.”
No, you can’t, or at least I can’t. It’s a picture of
trees and brush that could be almost anywhere in the world.
IF the reader looks very carefully they may see a tiny road
sign in the background that, with a bit of imagination, might
seem to show the curve of the trees. Or might not.
4) Page 115, a big hole in the ground with an earth mover.
The picture quality is almost good enough to make out the
5) Page 128, a riveting picture of what is supposed to be
the “modern travertine quarry, Bagni di Tivoli . . .” Looks
like a broken wall, with rubble and another earth mover that
could have been taken at a construction site in Idaho.
Fortunately I got this from the library. A book worth
adding to your personal library, but not at retail price.
I’m going to wait and buy my copy from the bargain bin at
$5.00 or better yet, $0.99.