Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Learn more Fitbit

Customer reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 24 June 2014
I was NOT too impressed with this tome. Far too much in the way of nitty-gritty, with lots of (in my opinion) unnecessary detail.
It DOES provide what I wanted but it is too involved to be more than a reference work.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 August 2016
Good scholarly work , useful to my studies
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 July 2016
Brilliant thanks
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 May 2017
Good reference book
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 April 2015
Very interesting
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 April 2016
A good read
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 December 2009
So, what did I like about this book?
It was very readable - almost un-put-down-able. It went from era to era seamlessly and I was impressed with the author's grasp of the history of Britain and his obvious knowledge and enthusiasm for archaeology. I really ENJOYED the book but had a number of reservations about it...

Where I felt it let me down was in a number of areas. Here and there it merely drifts into narrative about the history of Britain - with little thought as to `the tribes of Britain'. I am unsure what I was expecting - maybe some more about the genetic make-up of today's Briton. There are large swathes of the book where it just tells me people and events which you can read in countless other General History of Britain books.

Also, it was a little strange how the author kept putting in bits from his own experiences and childhood - in some ways it was endearing but I also found it a little distracting.

The main reason why this didn't get top marks for me though was that there were absolutely no conclusions. Indeed the last chapter ends with a bit of a whimper - he just is "chatting" about the New Britons and then it ends. Not really much about what the whole book means - how the Face of Britain is expected to change in the future really. Almost as though he was told to write 450 pages and when he got to page 450 he just typed a fullstop and that was it.

The four stars show that I enjoyed this book - it just left me feeling it needed one more draft and a concluding chapter.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 June 2014
good book, good service though not quite what I expected - thought it was about the individual tribes of ancient Britain, the Icene etc...
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 18 November 2014
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 February 2010
If you are thinking of buying this book, I would certainly recommend it as great value for money. It is lucid and packed with interesting facts about every era of British history, so you are bound to have your mind expanded in some way.

The author was Chief Archaeologist of English Heritage and brings a huge amount of personal knowledge and experience to the subject - he seems to have done one or other excavation relevant to practically every subject he talks about, and to have spent time all over the British Isles.

The basic idea of the book is to start at the beginning and talk about the successive waves of people who have come to the British Isles - from the pre-H. sapiens Boxgrove man of 500,000 years ago, via the first modern humans arriving after the last glacial maximum, the Celts, the Romans, the Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings, the Normans, the Huguenots, the East European Jews, the West Indians who came on the Windrush in 1948, and the Ugandan Asians, up to the Somalis arriving as we speak.

The trouble is that the author continually loses focus and the book degenerates into a (very readable and original) social history of Britain. At one point, after reading several pages on the Vikings in Iceland, I thought "hang on, what has this got to do with the matter in hand?" The answer is, not a lot; the author just got carried away retailing his knowledge of the Viking migrations - but it was interesting all the same.

As far as the book's ostensible purpose is concerned - i.e. the ethnic make-up of the British population and how it got to be that way - it all ends up being rather vague. This is no doubt a reflection of the fact that no one really knows to what extent, say, Anglo-Saxon invaders displaced an existing British population; people argue about it but there are no definitive answers. The author makes some passing references to DNA studies, but he does not much use them in his main narrative. On the other hand, those who do use the DNA to build a picture of the biological origins of the British population (e.g. Stephen Oppenheimer) can seem to be missing the point when they imply that their forensic accounts of ancient migrations explain who we are and render conventional history and archaeology obsolete. Surely, it is things like the Roman period, the Norman invasion and the arrival of the Huguenots that are truly relevant to understanding modern British society, not what we've got on our Y-chromosomes. It doesn't matter whether I'm biologically descended from the Normans or not - the way I live is still shaped by their legacy. In this respect, the present author, by focusing on the social effects of the migrations rather than on numbers and percentages, can be said to supply a good antidote to the "DNA fundamentalists".

For me the most annoying aspect of the book is the underlying "right on" attitude. This is something it is hard to put your finger on, but there is a subliminal tendency towards looking down on the people of the past who did not share our modern concerns for equality and human rights regardless of class, gender, race or sexual orientation. It sometimes seems that the author's basic thesis is that the British are and always have been racists. On the one hand, he describes how Britain has repeatedly accepted refugees and taken a principled stance over things like the slave trade, but on the other he also makes sure to mention lynchings and rabid rhetoric against blacks or Irish Catholics etc., sometimes quoting extremists as if they represented mainstream opinion. You could say this is balanced but the scales always seem to tip slightly towards representing the British as peculiarly hostile to outsiders. In other words, there is a bit of a guilt trip involved. To give an example, with reference to Britain's Aliens Act of 1905, which restricted immigration for the first time, we are told the Tory government "succumbed to...pressure" and "xenophobia was made respectable" - a rather loaded statement betraying little sympathy for the concerns (misguided or not) that lay behind the act. By contrast, we are told simply that there were "restrictions on entry to the United States as a result of the McCarron Act [sic] of 1952"; i.e. when it comes to the US we get a neutral statement with no mention of anyone succumbing to xenophobic pressures (pp. 429, 441).

To finish on a positive note, one thing I liked about the book was the author's eye for detail. When he mentions the Huguenots, for example, he takes the trouble to explain where the word comes from (actually two competing theories), and this is typical throughout. He explains why and when ideas, names and practices arose so that dimly remembered factoids from one's schooldays begin to slot into place and make sense.

Overall, it's not quite what it says on the tin, but it remains an interesting perspective on the history of the British Isles.
22 Comments| 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)