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The Roman Invasion of Britain: Archaeology Versus History
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
I first ordered this book from Amazon in November 2012, it arrived two weeks ago. Was the wait worthwhile? Well....

This book is an analytical examination of what we think we know and what we actually know (practically nothing) about the Roman invasions of Britain and there aftermath. It covers the ground from Caesar to the late forth century. Some periods, mostly early, in a great deal of detail others are skipped over with either little or no mention because we have neither written source or archaeological one a point the author makes plain in the text.

Caesar's invasion in particular is well dissected and discussed with no good results for those who think facts are fixed with regard to landing sites. The Claudian invasions is also discussed and analysed in considerable detail. I think the point re a North Sea approach is very well made.

Where possible the author examines the written sources and tries to link them with archaeological findings. As far as I am able to tell the archaeology discussed is as up to date as one would expect bearing in mind this is a book. It's a very impressive list of sources and digs that Ms Hoffmann seems to be familiar with.

To cut to the chase, the point Ms Hoffmann makes, and makes exceedingly well in this writers opinion, is that we actually know very little, facts are few and far between, with regard to Roman Britain, and that those interested in the period should be aware that the best one is going to get in most cases re `facts' is several different scenarios to work with, any one of which might be the `truth'. I was surprised on more than one occasion that things I had read of in other books as certainties were nothing of the sort or at least the data was ambiguous and any one of several different options might be the correct one.

It's a well written book (although there are one or two sentences which make no grammatical sense but they only cause a moments pause) with a fair number black and white photographs of reasonable quality and several line drawn maps and diagrams. Some 217 pages long in an easy to read type that has certainly affected my viewpoint of Romano-British history. It's a fascinating read and no mistake, though it occasionally dips into the negative, a point the author acknowledges. It's never less than interesting however.

Was it worth the wait, yes it was, I really enjoyed this book and , thankfully, it's also that rare book that one knows they can go back to time and time again and each time learn a little more. Thank you very much Ms Hoffmann for a tour de force.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2014
The title of this book is somewhat misleading. While it has much of interest to say about the invasion of Britain, this is only one aspect of the text. Coverage actually extends to more or less the whole of the Roman period. Similarly, the subtitle – Archaeology Versus History – overstates the complex relationship that is explored between archaeological investigations and historical sources. There is an appropriate emphasis on just how much uncertainty exists about the nature of key events and their interpretation.

At just over 200 pages, this is a very approachable study. It is also quite entertainingly written even if further editing would have been appropriate. There are some awkward switches, for example, between past tense and a more 'dramatic' present tense.

I am sure that readers with greater knowledge of this period will want to query further the approach taken. However, as a relative newcomer, I really enjoyed the book. It is very well presented with illustrations that lose nothing by not being in colour.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 25 November 2013
This book deserved much better editing than it appears to have received. In some places it reads like a first draft, with many awkward sentences, poor punctuation, and some egregious errors, e.g. 'Claudius' for 'Caratacus' in one place and the East and West ends of Hadrian's Wall confused. Despite this criticism, it contains a wealth of information not easily obtainable elsewhere, with some well-stated arguments for caution in our interpretation of the evidence for the Roman Army in Britain.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 2013
Accessible for students & informative and enjoyable for adult historians. I would thoroughly recommend this book. Insightful. & easy to read it is an enjoyable and refreshing approach to Romano-British archaeology.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 December 2013
The book was very informative, easy to read and a thoroughly good subject. The subject matter is one to be followed up with the next book I buy
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2014
A very interesting read.Title is misleading, Caesar gets a lot of space, Caligula gets space, 43 gets a brief enigmatic swirl as does Boudica then it rapidly heads off to the Wall, Wales and Brigantia being brief asides almost, and ends with the Yorkshire signalling towers and post roman Birdoswald. Its a sceptics book in the modern style questioning all the evidence, what there is, and most interpretations of it. It is good on the over interpretation of elegant roman dinner party anecdotes. But as a concise book covering a long period it cites but then tantalisingly skips over the harder archaeology evidence, even if it is imprecise, which is a shame given that a lot of new data has emerged. As such, if you are used to the old certainties, its very refreshing but leaves not a lot in its place. The main drawback is a shortage of maps. The publisher clearly has access to a lot of other authors' Scottish cartography on the Gask ridge but not a lot else, a real lack in the early and late chapters. If we do not have hard dates, we do have geography and date ranges but those need maps. It is totally military focussed as you'd expect.But, as always, where were all these enemies?
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on 31 December 2014
I like this book, I am interested in the Britain of the 1st century B.C., and in the expedition of C. Julius Caesar in Britain
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on 26 November 2014
excellent reference book
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2014
I am amazed at the enthusaism of some here - this is a poorly written book, which at the very least needed substantial sub-editing. The material is often disjointed, and sentences are frequently unreadable at first try. The confused style at times obscures the content. And the author is happier to criticise others than one might prefer. It is not well illustrated, and lacks the maps that would have helped immensely. You need to know a lot of the background to make sense of some parts.

Having said that, the short length is welcome, and there are interesting inputs coming from her research. The best aspect is that this is undoubtedly a topic (history v archaeology of the Roman years) that merits much more attention. This is however not the book it could have been.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2014
Excellent and stimulating overview of the topic and issues but presupposes a lot of detailed/substantive knowledge on the part of the reader. Certainly forces you to re-think conventional wisdom on the subject.
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