Module 7: Bodies From the Ash: Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii

20 07 2010

Book Cover

Summary: This book chronicles the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79 and the destruction of the towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii. The author provides a timeline of the eruption as well as the excavation process of the sites and describes both in an easy to understand manner. This book also includes a number of photographs of the excavation process and the remains as they are today.

Citation: Deem, J. M. (2005) Bodies From the Ash: Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

My Impressions: I enjoyed this book. It was full of great factual information that is easy for a middle schooler or above to understand and increase their knowledge. I visited Pompeii when I was in 8th grade and I recognize some of the photographs in the books as ruins and skeletons I saw. I particularly enjoyed the section in this book in which the author highlights the discoveries at five different sites and the remains that were found there. This section makes the book more personal, the reader is able to get a little bit into the lives and houses of the people the explosion affected.


“Deem explains how scientists have used these molds and other evidence to piece together the life styles and final moments of some of the victims, and conveys these heart-wrenching tales. Dramatic photographs of the casts capture the horror of this event and help readers to envision day-to-day life in this civilization. With incredibly engrossing images and narrative, this is a powerful and poignant piece of nonfiction.” –Jodi Kearns, School Library Journal review excerpt

“The excavations and body preservation techniques are explained in detail; everyday life in the city and the later tourist activity centered in Pompeii are also highlighted. But the jewels here are the numerous black-and-white (and some color) photographs, especially those featuring the plaster casts and skeletons of people in their death throes. The horizontal format, with pages looking as though they were partially bordered in marble, makes an attractive setting for the art. Excellent for browsers as well as researchers.” –Ilene Cooper, Booklist review excerpt

Library Use Suggestion: This would be a great book to go along with a book talk on ancient civilizations or natural disasters.