Book Review: Ghosts of Vesuvius
People who like their reading clear, concise and organized will probably hate this book. To someone like me, who is decidedly “right-brained,” it was a joy to read, even though there were times when I put it aside because I just couldn’t cope with the sheer amount of information.
Charles Pellegrino, who has also explored the wreck of the Titanic and the island of Thera (whose devastation in a volcanic eruption is a possible inspiration for the story of Atlantis), here brings his expertise to the results of the first-century eruption of Mt. Vesuvius as well as the collapse of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. “The behavior of dust-heavy air in Manhattan was governed by the very same physics that sent volcanic death clouds crashing...upon the cities of Vesuvius in A.D. 79,” he writes, and the book which would have resulted from this simple comparison would probably have been equally fascinating, although much shorter and more focused.
This book probably could have been more tightly edited without losing its stream-of-consciousness feel, and Pellegrino’s assertions were sometimes hyperbolic and occasionally flat-out wrong (the Pharisees were not a “sect of Temple high priests,” but in general non-priests who were often in opposition to the Temple cult), but I still found it enjoyable and well-worth reading.