Vesuvius: The Most Famous Volcano in the World by Gillian Darley - review by Harry Mount

Harry Mount

Lava Palaver

Vesuvius: The Most Famous Volcano in the World


Profile Books 246pp £15.99 order from our bookshop

This summer, Mount Etna erupted dramatically enough for sunbathers on Sicilian beaches to turn their gaze from each other's bottoms to the smoking cone, at least for a second or two. Still, though, Etna's eruption got minimal news coverage. If Vesuvius erupted, the foreign correspondent pack would be booking themselves on the Roma–Napoli express train prontissimo.

Vesuvius is the ultimate volcano: the first volcano we learn about as children, the brand name that's applied to fireworks and epic films about ancient Rome, the only volcano in mainland Europe. Part of the reason for the volcano's fame is that it only erupts intermittently. It hasn't

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