City by David Macaulay {Book Review}

City by David Macaulay

City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction by David Macaulay is an excellent addition to any homeschool library. Published in 1974, it is one of several books which Macaulay has both written and illustrated. With a background in architecture, Macaulay offers precise and masterful drawings to illustrate the intricacies and considerations involved in determining decisions regarding the building of a city.

City by David Macaulay

Contents of City by David Macaulay

City by David Macaulay is a 224 page book with large, detailed black and white drawing with an interesting narrative throughout.

City describes the planning and building of Verbonia on a 92 acre site in ancient Roman Italy. Verbona is an imaginary city, but could be any one of the many typical Roman cities built.

The Romans knew that well-planned cities did more to maintain peace and security than twice the number of military camps “

Macaulay (p5)
City by David Macaulay
Plan of Verbonia

This book offers so many learning experiences. From learning how to build roads, walls and tunnel vaults to aqueducts and sewers, there is something for everyone!

Whilst it is the illustrations that are the primary attraction in this book, the text is short, descriptive, informative and an interesting blend of fiction and non-fiction. But it is not all about planning and construction. In between all the information is a smattering of cultural nuggets, such as the use of a Roman priest to examine the livers of the local rabbits to check for health or impurities:

I read this out loud to my 11 and 13 year old. And I remember reading it outlaid to my older children whilst I was pregnant with Becca. So, I guess they would have been about ten. All five have thoroughly enjoyed snuggling in and looking at the pictures at the same time. It really is a fully immersive learning experience! That said, if it were just the words without the illustrations, it would not work. Whereas the drawings are so good to be able to stand alone, the words are not. However, they definitely add something.

I highly recommend this book, particularly for a want to be engineer or architect and for use in an Ancient Romans homeschool unit study.

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