"The sheer skill of the writing... the touch of a master-novelist... Few have ever explored so imaginatively, or with such passionate attention to detail." - Sunday Telegraph "Extraordinary and compelling." - Sunday Telegraph "Ann Wroe's knowledge of the past 2,000 years is encyclopaedic--She manages to keep Pilate living and breathing in the text, and occasionally kicking and screaming." - Independent on Sunday From the Trade Paperback edition.
Still, it's a wonderful book to read. A bit long, but enriching.
This is a beautifully written mosaic of the life and times of the world's most famous equivocator. Ann Wroe paints this moasic by artfully using all the classical resources at hand - biblical, apocryphal, legend etc. All the while, she has fun with it, and by doing this, she challenges the reader to think of the possiblities and draw their own conclusions. Ultimately, she weaves this into a tale that is both entertaining, moving, educational and masterfully written.
To write a biography of Pilate is to start, literally, without anything tangible outside of the common biblical sources. We do have a few non-biblical sources, but they are scant and incredibly vague. I would venture to guess, 99 percent of his life can't be independently verified. So, this book stands as a testament to Wroe's skill and deftness that she can piece together over a 300 page book on the man! This is a book that attempts to capture his life from cradle to grave. A bold task indeed.
That being said, this book isn't a biography in a traditional sense. Given the little evidence on the historicity of Pilate, one has to speculate. And speculate Wroe does: She speculates and offers multiple birth places, multiple upbringings, and ultimately, multiple paths of his adulthood that lead him to his storied clash with Jesus. This speculation continues on with the trial and execution of Jesus, his removal from governance, exile in later life, and ultimate death.
I think that speculation is part of the fun, part of the creative license Wroe uses to lay out all of the possible Pilates for the reader - the saintly Pilate, the removed, detached and callous Pilate, the remorseful, sorrowful Pilate, the hesitant Pilate. This book really gets one thinking.
Of course, one looking for just the facts may not apperciate the openness displayed here. This book isn't a book a reader can go to for clear, objective answers. Wroe lays out the puzzle pieces and the let's the reader decide how they should go together (for Wroe, they can go together in multiple ways). Some readers are turned off by that, and I can sympathize with that sentiment. But, I don't think we can expect all the answers with the little evidence we do have.
Aside from Pilate, there are other things to like about this book: I have always found this time period and early Christian history fascinating. Wroe immerses the reader into early post Republic Roman History. She masterfully describes the Roman political way of life, and day to day duties of a prefect- all fascinating to me. This book is worth reading just for Wroe's engaging examination the times, and it may lend itself to further reading and examination by the reader