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A ramble through history
on 24 February 2014
I found the firs 20% of this book a hard slog. Maybe because I was expecting rather more and having been interested in British history I have read many original and interesting works. This book is entirely derivative which is forgivable but the first pa art is written in very poor journalistic style....so much so that it grated. Like a tabloid the author sometimes breathlessly invents things to 'engage' the reader...like how the Britons raced their chariots along the coast tracking the Roman fleet. Really? I think not.
Then it seems to get better, more facts and less artistic' license. Unfortunately, the facts turn out to be anything but. For example he assumes that the appearance of new pottery in the archaeological record has to indicate an invasion of new people. This was standard thought fifty years ago. The author is unaware that that is no longer so.
Similarly moving on in time he assumes the old view that Saxons came to England in post Roman times. Presumably he believes the origin myths of Hengist and Horsa being invited by Vortigern. He ignores the possibility that Saxons had long been in Britannia.
And so It goes on, this is a simplistic concoction of outdated ideas told at an increasing pace all through the book. All this is of course to interest you in what he has to sell. Unsurprisingly it turns out the author runs a genetic testing company. Nothing wrong in that, just remember that if your family ha roots in these isles that you are statistically almost certainly related to just about everyone that was alive here in 1200 and before and you do not need a genetic test to prove it.
There are great original books on the history of the peoples of Britain. For example, Britain BC and Britain AD by Francis Pryor. Similarly, the Saxon question is much better addressed elsewhere. King of the North gives a good picture of the development of Saxon Northumbria and its context.
Curious, I looked up the author on Wikipedia. That entry explained a lot, (it's worth reading first)...eg the author was in fact a journalist.
Nevertheless 2 stars for trying and entrepreneurial spirit if not for any real insights given.