The Tribes of Britain Paperback – 3 Aug 2006
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[Miles] draws admirably on history, demography, sociology, biology, and even climatology in this wide-ranging cornucopia. (THE TIMES (2/9/06))
Coming at a time of surely historical levels of immigration, his hugely detailed survey... provides a vital background to any discussion of why Britain is the way it is. It will certainly warm the hearts of increasingly beleaguered multiculturists. (SUNDAY TIMES (3/9/06))
A big, eccentric tract written with a Victorian zeal to educate and improve the reader... [a] magisterial work. (TELEGRAPH (26/8/06))
Who are we? The story of the peoples of Britain and Ireland, drawing on new genetic discoveries, language, buildings and landscape.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
When dealing with the period immediately before the Peasant's Revolt of 1381, Miles refers to the previous monarch as Edward II (died 1327) instead of Edward III (died 1377). Then he talks about a tax being imposed on foreigners by Richard II in 1440 (Richard II died in 1399). At a later stage he talks about the control of the tobacco trade by the monarchy contributing to the revolution of 1760 - what revolution? Does he mean 1642, or even 1775? There was no revolution of any kind in 1760. At the Battle of Waterloo, he says the British deployed 21,000 infantry where the size of the army (including cavalry) was actually 67,000 men. On the same page he refers to Abraham Crowley's steel works - what? Does he mean Abraham Darby's cast iron works? There is no Abraham Crowley in Wikipedia. He then refers to the completion of the canals between the Severn and the Mersey in 1727, when in fact one link in this, the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal, was not completed until 1772. Later he refers to the Municipal Corporations Act of 1838 (it was passed in 1835 - he gets the date right on the next page). You get the idea.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
good book, good service though not quite what I expected - thought it was about the individual tribes of ancient Britain, the Icene etc...Published on 28 Jun. 2014 by goddess
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. Read morePublished on 24 Jun. 2014 by keith helsdown
Has this book been edited? Henry VIII did not accede to the throne in 1502, Richard II was not born in 1377, nor was he king in the mid-fifteenth century. Read morePublished on 11 Aug. 2010 by Mrs. S. V. Read
This book helped me discover and understand the history of Britain and of the different people that throughout history have made of this island their home. Read morePublished on 29 Jan. 2010 by Miquel
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... Read more
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