Author(s): Robert Harris
A sweltering week in late August. Where better to enjoy the last days of summer than on the beautiful Bay of Naples? All along the coast, the Roman Empire's richest citizens are relaxing in their luxurious villas. The world's largest navy lies peacefully at anchor in Misenum. The tourists are spending their money in the seaside resorts of Baiae, Herculaneum and Pompeii. Only one man is worried. The engineer Marcus Attilius Primus has just taken charge of the Aqua Augusta, the enormous aqueduct which brings fresh water to a quarter of a million people in nine towns around the Bay. Springs are failing for the first time in generations. His predecessor has disappeared. And now there is a crisis on the Augusta's sixty-mile main line - somewhere to the north of Pompeii, on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Attilius - decent, practical, incorruptible - promises Pliny, the famous scholar who commands the navy, that he can repair the aqueduct before the reservoir runs dry. But as he heads out towards Vesuvius he is about to discover there are forces which even the world's only superpower can't control. Pompeii recreates in spellbinding detail one of the most famous natural disasters of all time. And by focusing on the characters of an engineer and a scientist, it offers an entirely original perspective on the Roman world.
Winner of BookScan Gold Awards 2007.
Acclaim for Robert Harris's Pompeii, the #1 international bestseller
"Blazingly exciting...Pompeii palpitates with sultry tension....Harris provides an awe-inspiring tour of one of the monumental engineering triumphs on which the Roman empire was based....What makes this novel all but unputdownable...is the bravura ÃÂÃÂ¯ÃÂÃÂ¬ÃÂÃÂctional flair that crackles through it. Brilliantly evoking the doomed society pursuing its ambitions and schemes in the shadow of a mountain that nobody knew was a volcano, Harris, as Vesuvius explodes, gives full vent to his genius for thrilling narrative. Fast-paced twists and turns alternate with nightmarish slow-motion scenes (desperate ÃÂÃÂ¯ÃÂÃÂ¬ÃÂÃÂgures struggling to wade thigh-deep through slurries of pumice towards what they hope will be safety). Harris's unleashing of the furnace ferocities of the eruption's terminal phase turns his book's closing sequences into pulse-rate-speeding masterpieces of suffocating suspense and searing action. It is hard to imagine a more thoroughgoingly enjoyable thriller."
--"London Sunday Times"
"Breakneck pace, constant jeopardy and subtle twists of plot...a blazing blockbuster... The depth of the research in the book is staggering."
"[A] stirring and absorbing novel...The ÃÂÃÂ¯ÃÂÃÂ¬ÃÂÃÂnal 100 pages are terriÃÂÃÂ¯ÃÂÃÂ¬ÃÂÃÂc, as good as anything Harris has done; and the last, teasing paragraph, done with the lightest of touches, is masterly."
--"The Sunday Telegraph"
"The long-drawn-out death agony of [Pompeii and Herculaneum]--a full day of falling ash, pumice stone, and then, the ÃÂÃÂ¯ÃÂÃÂ¬ÃÂÃÂnal catastrophe, a cloud of poisonous gas--is brilliantly done. Explosive stuff, indeed."
"From the Hardcover edition."
Robert Harris was born in Nottingham in 1957 and is a graduate of Cambridge University. He has been a reporter on the BBC's Newsnight and Panorama programmes, Political Editor of the Observer, and a columnist on The Sunday Times and Daily Telegraph. In 2003 he was named Columnist of the Year in the British Press Awards. He is the author of the number one bestsellers Fatherland, Enigma and Archangel, as well as five non-fiction books. He lives in Berkshire with his wife and four children.