Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bodies from the Ash by James. M. Deem

I’ve always been fascinated by Pompeii. Its story has many of the elements that I love: history, tragedy, love, horror. Bodies from the Ash may be my favorite book about this event. To have been there when that volcano exploded and try to flee, finally realizing that you can’t and that for you, life is over. And then to lie, covered by ash for almost 2,000 years until you’re discovered. Now, thanks to plaster casts made during the excavation, we can see the people of Pompeii in their moments of death. A beggar carrying a bag for alms. The slave trying to break free of his chains. The merchant struggling to pull himself up.

Deem does a wonderful job of both describing what it would have been like to have been in Pompeii and Herculaneum that fateful day in 79 A.D and how the excavations proceeded once Pompeii was rediscovered in 1748. It is sad to think that Pompeii is considered an endangered site and may not be there for future generations to see.

This is going to be a great book to share with my 6th graders during their Ancient Rome unit.

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