Sunday, July 23, 2017

A review Alice Roberts The Celts Search for a Civilization

  Alice Roberts The Celts Search for a Civilization, just how do I start to review this book? Well it is beautifully written is the best way. Alice Roberts is one of those people who connects well and makes things interesting, because she doesn't go all intellectual on you, by that I mean she doesn't fall into the trap of giving too much to make your brain ache, just enough to make it work. She takes you on your journey as a willing  travelling companion not the old bore that knows everything and wants to prove it to you and is dragging you along.

I had seen the TV programme on which this was based and very good it was too,but the problem with TV programmes, as we all know is that there are so many other distractions that you never fully take it all in. With a book however, it is your main focus of attention ( if you are at all like me ) and nothing takes you away from it, apart from needing a wee, perhaps.

This book does give you many oh moments when you're told something that you never realised before and those oh moments make you go yes that makes sense. Then another surprise comes along and you go oh again and then think about it and for me it was a constant feature of this book. 

I suppose I wanted Alice to give me roots something like a building  like the ancient Egyptians had and say this is where the Celts came from. That didn't happen,  as we discover, there never was a single unified Celtic nation with a capital, but lots of peoples who shared art, ideas, goods over far longer time period than what we realised. Even sharing these things as  the book shows that some we think of as being Celts might not be Celts and it shows us how to distinguish the real Celts. That is one of the real Oh joyous moments of the book particularly as it gets tied together and the realisation that it makes complete sense dawns on you.The idea that they suddenly appeared and invaded everywhere or came from Central Europe is mostly blown away, which I am pleased about as I've never accepted it.  We learn from her that there is as much to learn about the Celts  and what we think we know we probably don't really know or fully understand.

The book does say, with caution, there are truths in some of things we know, like the Warrior Celts and Druids, but there are also things that we thought we knew that recent discoveries now show might not be true. I loved the way this book explains while things might seen gory to us, what we do now might seem gory to the people of those times. Once more Alice reminds us that history is always written by the conquerors not the conquered, and it is their propaganda that we see the Celts through, Also as our times change then they way we see things change, so we need to try and stop seeing things from our view but as they are/were.   She did put one nail in the coffin for me, regarding so called Celtic Art, which I never felt it was, by saying it was a later middle age invention (mostly not all of it) For one of the most wonderful things about this book is that Alice teaches us that history is living and forever changing as we gain greater insights with the science we have now.

This really is a great book for anyone who wants to know the Celts. It is wonderfully written and easy to read. The only thing that I could find slight erring was that she didn't mention Manx Gaelic as being a Celtic Language which it most certainly is. As she signed my book she more than forgiven for that.  So did I find the Celtic Civilisation through reading this book? Well yes, I did, because it is my genetic make up, the way I feel, my language, my many loves of writing, spirituality, reading and art. Although never explicitly said in the book, I drew the personal conclusion that those we know as Celts have never left and our ancestors were as diverse and adaptable as we are today. This is their civilisation and we are just part of its continuance and if we are really looking for the Celts then we need not look any further. It might have a different name now but ..

Yes buy this book love it and place it on your best sellers list and tell everyone about it - I am glad that I did and it has gone as onto my special book shelf where my favourite books are placed. Prof. Alice Roberts, you are my favourite Celtic Bard and thank you for such a wonderful book.

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