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Customer Review

11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An accessible introduction to a complex matter, 9 Nov. 2007
This review is from: Face of Britain: How Our Genes Reveal the History of Britain (Hardcover)
Written to accompany the recent Channel Four TV series, this well-illustrated book provides an excellent introduction to a complex area of scientific study. In it Robin McKie outlines recent genetic studies of Britain and Ireland, Sir Walter Bodmer, the man behind the most extensive - the People of the British Isles project - writing the book's introduction.

Sir Walter took DNA samples from people in various rural locations whose grandparents had lived locally. Working on an inspired hunch, he then compared the occurrence across the British Isles of the gene that can give rise to red hair - the MC1R or so-called `Celtic' gene. He found that it was most common in the Irish, with about half as much in the Cornish and very little or none in English regions sampled. Together with an earlier study that showed genetic similarities between English people and the Friesians of Northern Holland, this provides evidence to support the traditional model of the Anglo-Saxon conquest - that of invading pagan, illiterate barbarians forcing Celtic Christians to flee for their lives to the Atlantic seaboard of Britain. However, the book claims that most historians subscribe to another model - in this the Anglo-Saxons came in small numbers peacefully absorbing most Celts, their superior culture leading to their becoming the dominant race, the educated Celts leaving in a huff to head west and write a biased history.

History defines identity; if the Anglo-Saxons could be seen in a better light, it would permit their descendants to feel better about themselves. Perhaps this motivates some historians to disregard inconvenient evidence: that early historians, Celtic and Anglo-Saxon, are unanimous in following the first model; that DNA studies can now be said to support it too; that there are very few Celtic loan words in the English language to support the alternative one.

In matters of history, even the smartest people have can difficulty handling the truth...
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 May 2008 19:23:24 BDT
P. Casey says:
I have recently bought Stephen Oppenheimer book the orgins of the British" i have just started reading it ! The start of the book is very interogative, my interest is mainly why people speak a latinised germanic language on the british isles !! By looking at our continental cousins the Irish and the british populations differ in physical apperance! Some of us look germanic while others reseamble people of southern europe!!

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Aug 2009 22:05:30 BDT
Last edited by the author on 6 May 2012 12:17:17 BDT
To AG Phillips; I greatly admired your review for the truth in it.

The first Saxons arrived as a dribble of immigrants, refugees, mercenaries etc... Over the years, that dribble turned to a flood. As Saxon numbers increased they turned on their British hosts; took their cities, slaughtered most, and drove the survivors to the western hills. Thus our fathers came to, and conquered England.

This is the story I was taught in school, some fifty years ago. It is the story left in the ballads and sagas of our people. The DNA evidence supports it as true.

Can anyone tell me why that story might be unpopular with our political 'leaders' today???

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jan 2010 20:44:17 GMT
I believe we must never, ever hide the truth. The fact is, that is what those in power or the ascendency culturally always want. Raising such matters is spitting in the soup of the Imperial historians such as Starkey etc who are totally blind to truth if it is inconvenient!

Posted on 7 Feb 2010 11:15:39 GMT
I can see why you like this book. It validates your world view and your identity as Cornish in opposition to 'the English'. I would like to remind you and any one else reading these comments that this is one book/survey among many and others do not support the conclusion that Walter Bodmer ( a German by birth) arrived at. It is always good to read from different sources to avoid painting a biased picture.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Jun 2010 21:19:52 BDT
Saes Maes says:
To the original poster....
The study carried out by Weale et al has since been proven to be a flawed survey. The English population contains more people of Celtic descent (to use a corrupt term) than there are people in Wales and Scotland combined.... The people of Britain (English included) are the descendants of the earliest post-ice age immigrants. Just because you were taught to be a racist at school does not make your ideology sacrosanct or allow it to be shown to be wanting in the light of new evidence.... go on believing some monk who lived in the North East of England 175 years after alleged events, combined with generations worth of hatred and rumour, the truth will out.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Aug 2010 21:03:26 BDT
Macintyre says:
The exact same thing can be said about folk in Germany, northern Europe and Southern Europe. Its not as if everyone in Germany looks 'Germanic'.
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