The Celts: Bronze Age to New Age

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cuardai's picture

Author: John Haywood

Publisher: Longman

ISBN Number: 9780582505780

Publication Date: August 18th 2004

Reviewed by: cuardai


John Haywood in his introduction of the book tells us that in recent academic writing about the Celts the focus has been on whether or not the Celts really existed and on whether the modern Celts are real Celts.  His opinion on the matter (with some reservations which he will discuss in the book) is that both are real.  He feels that rather than focusing on Celtic history as a two-millennia-long decline, it should be seen as a real story of survival.  John Haywood in his book is trying to explain the reasons WHY the Celts have survived in one form or another until today.  He gives us two reasons.  The first is that the Celts were not united so in his opinion they were harder to conquer and even when defeated they were harder to subdue because there was always someone ready to rebel.  The other reason is the limitations of their enemies’ colonial systems, which could not easily assimilate the decentralized tribal societies even after they were defeated.  He uses for his resources the Classical writers, archeology, and vernacular records.  The book has a beautiful bibliography that could be used for references or further reading on a specific subject.

The book starts with a very brief history of the possible origins of the Celts, and moves on to discuss the Celtic migrations that were known in recorded history,  the Celts of the Hallstatt and the La Téne World, the Celts and the Roman Republic, Caesar’s conquest of Gaul and the effects it had elsewhere, the Roman conquest of Britain and what it meant, the Celts in the Roman world, the histories of Wales, Scotland, Brittany and Ireland and all the troubles the English had in Ireland.  There was also a chapter on the end of the Clan system in Scotland and how that affected the Highlands and Scots.  The author discusses how these clans worked in the Highlands and how they came to be, in a very simplistic manner.  The last three chapters of the book discuss the Celtic revival (how, why and where it took place), the Celtic Diaspora and the causes and effects of it and the modern Celts.  The last chapter especially discusses (though very briefly) the future of the Celts at least as far as the author sees this future.

I really enjoyed the book because it filled in gaps in my knowledge in certain areas like Brittany and Wales and complemented what I already knew about Ireland and Scotland.  It presented the latest of the known facts on the Celts and that is what a lot of older books lack.  It is a great book for beginners or for people who want an up to date discussion of the history of the Celts.  If you like the writing style of Barry Cunliffe minus the discriptions of artifacts and archeological sites then this is the book for you.  It is for the layman and the historian alike, because it gives the historian the explanation needed to know why something happened and it also gives the layman a history that is easy to read and understand without confusion.

Celtic history, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Bronze Age
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cuardai's picture

Re: The Celts: Bronze Age to New Age

You're welcome.  Like I said it is probably nothing that you have not seen before but it is a "new" book compared to the older ones on the market.

Morri's picture

Re: The Celts: Bronze Age to New Age

Thanks! I am looking forward to this one!