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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener!,
This review is from: Celts: Origins and Re-inventions: Origins, Myths and Inventions (Paperback)If you want a book that will blow away the new agey, Arthurian linked, wishy-washy idea of Celticism, this is the book for you. Collis examines the development of the idea of Celticity and explains why the so-called Celtic languages exist in countries which did not call themselves Celtic at the time. Quite an eye opener.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical, racial, cultural or linguistic Celts?,
This review is from: Celts: Origins and Re-inventions: Origins, Myths and Inventions (Paperback)There are a lot of books about`the Celts'. This is probably why I have only now in 2010 got around to reading this one published in 2003. It is very different from some other books on the subject for example Alastair Moffat's 'The Sea Kingdoms: the history of Celtic Britain and Ireland'.
Collis' book is very thorough, erudite and readable, an in depth study of Celts and what the word Celtic means from many different angles. I would agree with another reviewer (hastily adding that I am a complete amateur) who says that the book is vital to any one interested in the subject. The book has a strong archaeological bent, so Collis devotes quite a lot of time to describing for example the Hallstadt and La Tene archaeological cultures in Austria and Switzerland, which were once thought and perhaps still are in some quarters to represent the products of `Celts in their homeland': Collis takes a much more pan-European view and rejects this origin theory for the Celts.
He also discusses historical references to`Celts' made by Caesar, Tacitus and many other classical writers, some of them more reliable or more detailed than others and some mutually contradictory. He mentions a bewildering diversity of tribes and tribal movements in Europe in early times. He considers evidence for the origin and development of extinct and extant Celtic languages and speculates on what languages different tribes or peoples spoke.
The essence of Collis's work and the thrust of his argument is that the area where culture possibly Celtic was found does not necessarily correspond with areas where Celtic languages were spoken, nor with areas which were described as Celtic in ancient times, nor with our modern description of Celts as inhabitants living on the Western Atlantic seaboard. In fact Collis finishes with two maps, one which summarises the places where Celts lived in ancient times, mainly France and some parts further east, with CeltIberians in central Spain, and a second, based on linguistics, showing the modern placement of Celts along the Atlantic coast. Maps are an interesting feature of Collis's book by the way.
Stephen Oppenheimer in `The Origins of the British' - another fascinating book - seems to believe that Collis has done a bit too good a job of deconstruction, and that there is evidence for a mid or southwestern France origin for people called Celts or Gauls speaking a Celtic language and that this is not inconsistent with the spread of Celtic language later into Spain then up the Atlantic seaboard.
This is my attempt at summarisation (of Collis and Oppenheimer). Even if misleading, I hope it gives potential readers a flavour of Collis's book.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are serious read this.,
This review is from: Celts: Origins and Re-inventions: Origins, Myths and Inventions (Paperback)If you are seriously interested in Celtic subjects then this is the book you must read before all others. If you are interested in the "Celts" as what in the last 200 years or so has become an attempt at creating a Celtic Master Race then this is not the book for you.
John Collis has thoroughly deconstructed the mythology surrounding the Celtic speakers. At the beginning of the book he quotes Ferguson, "Thus in the groves of Academe do the blind often trustingly follow the purblind". He looks at many early sources such as those of, Hesiod, Aeschylus, Hescateus, Himilco, Herodotus through to more well known names such as Pliny, Ptolemy, Caesar, Cicero, Livy and many more. He looks at the subject through Archaeology, Anthropology and Linguistic and asks many thought provoking questions as to why this subject has become so popular. He leaves no stone unturned and even looks at Religion. In my inexpert opinion anything I have read previously about the "Celts" must now be treated with suspicion. A thoroughly good read but not a book to be read from cover to cover.
I would also recommend The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story" by Stephen Oppenheimer if you want to get up to speed on this subject. Part 1 of this book is entitled "The Celtic myth: wrong myth, real people." So that will give you a few clues. The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars John Collis' Celts:...Origins, Myths and Inventions,
This review is from: Celts: Origins and Re-inventions: Origins, Myths and Inventions (Paperback)As someone with little previous knowledge of the Celts, this book was very informative.
Perhaps a different style of organizing the material would have been more helpful; I found
the author's style frustrating at times. Instead of putting forth other academics theories so much of the time, I would have
found it more instructive to take a "myth" or previously believed theories and then demonstrate how and what I thought was
actually the case, and why.
Still, I'm glad to have bought and read this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars A clear voice,
This review is from: Celts: Origins and Re-inventions: Origins, Myths and Inventions (Paperback)This is a valuable and enjoyable overview of all the historical evidence that concerns the historical people sometimes known as Celts, and provides a useful andidote to the fantasy that often accompanies the modern use of that term.
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Celts: Origins and Re-inventions: Origins, Myths and Inventions by John Collis (Paperback - 1 Nov 2003)