Allan Massie

Walking with Ghosts

Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town


Profile Books 360pp £25 order from our bookshop

As I write, the damage and death-toll of the latest earthquakes in China are being assessed, and the inhabitants of New Orleans are returning to the city from which they fled a few days ago, happy (one assumes) that Hurricane Gustav has been less destructive than was expected. ‘Events’, said Bismarck, ‘are stronger than the plans of men’, and even in our technologically advanced civilisation Nature frequently reminds us of her ability to provide terrifying and destructive events. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, which engulfed the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, was, in comparison with some of Nature’s other efforts, comparatively unremarkable.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Stuck for a gift idea for Father's Day? Subscribe to Literary Review and get a FREE copy of 'An Impeccable Spy' –… ,
    • 'Gone. All gone. The ease, the pleasure, the effortless eloquence' From May 1995, Margaret Forster's withering rev… ,
    • RT : SO excited to tell you about this event! 😆 The amazing digital colourist, will be joining w… ,
    • 'Peters was unashamed and evidently unshamable, an impostor who wholly inhabited his fabrications and who indignant… ,
    • ‘At every waking moment Barbara Hepworth was aware of herself as a woman paving the way in a man’s world’ From the… ,
    • The entertaining Howard Jacobson is in conversation with Prof John Mullan at the Queen’s Park Book Festival on Sund… ,
    • 'A modest and retiring man, Thompson spent his life describing apple varieties and recommending the best – Ribston… ,