Customer Review

39 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book about the British People, 31 Mar. 2007
This review is from: The Tribes of Britain (Paperback)
When I asked for this book for Christmas from my wife, I had been under the impression it dealt with the genetics of the British people. The book does do this, but it is hardly the primary focus. I quickly was over any disappointment as the book captured my attention through sharp, crisp writing, a plethora of engaging facts, and seamless storytelling.

The book deals with the subject of just who the British people are and how they came to be. Woven into the tapestry of the tale are the histories of the pre-historic people of Britain, of the Celts and Picts, the Britons, the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Normans and every people and culture who have contributed to the bloodlines of the British people.

This is not a history of the Kings and Queens of England, or the hundreds of battles fought, or of the Empire. It is truly a history and an examination of the people of the British Isles.

One quickly comes to understand that it is impossible to define virtually anyone in Britain as simply "English" or "Ango-Saxon" or "Irish" - that the vast internal and external migrations and transpositions of people, language and culture that have occured over the millenia serve to blur the lines that supposedly differentiate the various home nations in terms of ancestry.

So many notable books concentrate solely on the English or on the Scots or only on the Irish, and many books that focus on Britain give only passing mention to the home nations other than England and her people. The Tribes of Britain is an excellent bit of writing about the British people as a whole and would be of interest to students of history and to the many people with any sort of British ancestry.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Feb 2009 15:32:07 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Feb 2009 22:59:31 GMT
Paul Bolger says:
Ireland is not part of Britain. Fact.

I always look for new and interesting takes on these islands, and look forward to reading this book, but I fear we will never learn to enjoy our similarities and get over our differences until people from or apologetic for the island of Britain, regardless of ignorance or simple misuse of that most hated term "The British Isles", recognise that the island of Ireland has an ocean between it and the larger land mass next door. Genetics matter little - unless skin colour comes into it. It is culture and world view that differentiates peoples of the same skin colour.

I am sure the French speaking people of Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg would not relish being called Frankish because they live next door to a larger land mass that can't get over itself and it's people's perceived place in the world .

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Oct 2009 16:19:29 BDT
Sawney Beane says:
As you said you haven't read the book , so you have misinterpreted the point that the author and reviewer are making, and judging a theory about pre-history with modern political outlook.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jan 2011 15:40:45 GMT
Peasant says:
Yes, it's a sticky point, and one that usually gets Irish people's backs up (not that I am without my own Irish ancestry, mind), but to geographers there is a group of off-shore islands on the edge of the Atlantic and they don't care that, politically, one of them has a national boundary through it. Anyway, what do you do? Do you only start studying the history oof the 6 counties since the 1920s? Do you conveniently forget that all the islands were, however reluctantly, part of the same political unit for several hundred years? Do you only "do" Scotland after 1603? Or after the Act of Union?

Paul Bolger may not realise that large swathes of the population of Europe are blissfully unaware that the British Isles are NOT all one state. But that isn't the point. When considered on a European basis, us off-shore-islanders have more in common with each other than we have with the mainland, and when you're studying subjects other than political history, it makes sense to acknowledge that fact. In pre- and post-Roman times there were large-scale incursions into the West coast of England from Ireland; from the Deise into Devon and from the area round Drogheda (the Sedanti no less) into the Wirral. How does Mr bolger want to handle that?
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