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Extended Audio Sample Pompeii: A Novel, by Robert Harris Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (11,793 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Robert Harris Narrator: Michael Cumpsty Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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All along the Mediterranean coast, the Roman empire’s richest citizens are relaxing in their luxurious villas, enjoying the last days of summer. 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.

But the carefree lifestyle and gorgeous weather belie an impending cataclysm, and only one man is worried. The young engineer Marcus Attilius Primus has just taken charge of the Aqua Augusta, the enormous aqueduct that brings fresh water to a quarter of a million people in nine towns around the Bay of Naples. His predecessor has disappeared. Springs are failing for the ?rst time in generations. 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, and incorruptible, promises Pliny, the famous scholar who commands the navy, that he can repair the aqueduct before the reservoir runs dry. His plan is to travel to Pompeii and put together an expedition, then head out to the place where he believes the fault lies. But Pompeii proves to be a corrupt and violent town, and Attilius soon discovers that there are powerful forces at work, both natural and man-made, threatening to destroy him.

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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 fictional 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 figures 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. Daily Mail
  • [A] stirring and absorbing novel...The final 100 pages are terrific, 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 final catastrophe, a cloud of poisonous gas—is brilliantly done. Explosive stuff, indeed. The Daily Telegraph

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by laura | 2/15/2014

    " It was interesting to me to read about the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius from the view of the local aquarius. To see him discover so many warning signs (i.e. sulfer in the water, the collapse of the Aqua Augusta, etc.) and still not know what was ahead made me squirm. Having walked the streets of Pompeii, I thought the descriptions of the city were fantastic. From the raised cross-walks, to the bath-houses and brothels, it really painted the perfect picture. Overall, I really liked this book. However, I thought it was absolutely ridiculous that such a "happy" ending for the protagonist was tacked on to such a tragic tale. It would have made a better story if he had died, just like the rest of the city. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Tina H. | 2/6/2014

    " This is a fun beach book, if you aren't on a land mass with a volcano! While it really does not focus on Pompeii itself, it is incredibly illuminating regarding the aqueduct systems Rome built; this is worth the read alone. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by George Ilsley | 2/1/2014

    " Thought this was pretty good until I arrived at the anomalous line about global warming. Really jarring. Dropped a star just for that. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Rachel | 2/1/2014

    " I don't usually like non-fiction or anything that closely resembles non-fiction but this book was actually really good. I thought Harris was able to weave a plausible story the way life might have been like for the different people living around Pompeii. An interesting perspective. Great book! "

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