Customer Review

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very thorough on material evidence but a bit narrow, 5 Nov 2013
This review is from: Britain After Rome: The Fall and Rise, 400 to 1070: Anglo-Saxon Britain Vol 2 (The Penguin History of Britain) (Paperback)
This is a very thorough account focusing on the material evidence of how people in different ethnic groups and social classes lived between the Roman withdrawal and the Norman Conquest. There are copious references to archaeological research, showing what people ate, what diseases and injuries they suffered, how long they could expect to live, and so on. The author is immensely knowledgable, but writes in a clear, approachable style.

The archaelogical evidence that she discusses agrees with the genetic evidence discussed in Stephen Oppenheimer's The Origins of the British, showing that there was no large scale replacement of "Celts" by "Anglo-Saxons". The transformation from "British" to "English" was mostly a spread of a culture, not a movement of peoples. The near extermination of the Britons by the Anglo-Saxons was a myth, perpetuated by Dark Age "historians" for their own polemical purposes, and repeated by the Victorians because it confirmed their racial analysis of history.

The drawback of this book is that it's a bit one-dimensional. Perhaps because material evidence is her speciality, the author takes a thoroughly "materialistic" view of the peoples' motivations. In the view of the author, no one in the Dark Ages and Anglo-Saxon period seems to have any motivation other than to enhance their own social status and material wealth. Related to this is another flaw, namely that when the author tries to empathise with the people of those days, especially in her last chapter, she seems to do so from her own perspective as a 21st Century middle class American. She seems to assume that due to their poor diet, parasitic infections, high infant mortality and short life expectancy, the people would have been as miserable as their modern descendants would be if we suddenly found ourselves afflicted with these problems. I think this is incorrect, because happiness is more about how we compare ourselves with other people whose lives we are familiar with. For instance, the loss of a child is always tragic, but it must surely feel a great deal more tragic in a society where everyone else's children are alive and healthy. Likewise, being the only person whom you know who has a tapeworm is probably a lot worse than living in a society where even Kings have tapeworms.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

Reviewer


Location: Great Britain

Top Reviewer Ranking: 24,925