The Celts: A Very Short Introduction

The Celts: A Very Short Introduction

Paperback Very Short Introductions

By (author) Barry Cunliffe

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 176 pages
  • Dimensions: 110mm x 170mm x 10mm | 141g
  • Publication date: 18 September 2003
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0192804189
  • ISBN 13: 9780192804181
  • Illustrations note: numerous halftones and maps
  • Sales rank: 112,140

Product description

Savage and bloodthirsty, or civilized and peaceable? The Celts have long been a subject of enormous fascination, speculation, and misunderstanding. From the ancient Romans to the present day, their real nature has been obscured by a tangled web of preconceived ideas and stereotypes. Barry Cunliffe seeks to reveal this fascinating people for the first time, using an impressive range of evidence, and exploring subjects such as trade, migration, and the evolution of Celtic traditions. Along the way, he exposes the way in which society's needs have shaped our visions of the Celts, and examines such colourful characters as St Patrick, Cu Chulainn, and Boudica. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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Author information

Barry Cunliffe is Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford. He has excavated widely in Western Europe and is currently working in Spain, Brittany, and Wessex. His research interests have recently focussed especially on the importance of the Atlantic sea routes to European prehistory and history. His books include The Celtic World, The Ancient Celts, Prehistoric Europe, Facing the Ocean, and The Extraordinary Voyage of Pytheas the Greek. He is a Trustee of the British Museum.

Review quote

"'It is a brilliant, articulate exposition of one of the most fascinating new ideas in archaeology.'"

Editorial reviews

One of the latest additions to OUP's 'Very Short Introduction' series, The Celts continues the series' success in producing informative, comprehensive and immensely readable guides to a huge variety of subjects. Each book in this series is written by an acknowledged expert in the field, and Cunliffe is no exception. He has published widely on Celtish history, and one cannot help but be impressed by the depth of knowledge he brings to this book: although his speciality is archaeology, he includes chapters on etymology and cultural history amongst others. Anyone wanting a guide to the mishmash of ideas and culture that is present-day 'celtishness' will not find what they want here - this is a serious but readable look at the historical facts. Cunliffe argues that our ideas of a Celtic heritage encompassing the Irish, Welsh, Scots and Bretons in fact reflect only small facets of a people that existed for many centuries over a geographical area that stretched into Eastern Europe and Spain. Cunliffe begins the book by recounting how he was contacted by an American alcoholic, who said that since reading one of Cunliffe's books he had realized that his alcoholism was attributable to his Scottish roots, and was therefore something to be celebrated! Celtic history is full of controversies, not least because - and Cunliffe is happy to admit this - the evidence for some of the claims he makes is very scarce. To his credit, the author allows that there are interpretations of the evidence other than the ones he suggests. Although some of the detailed historical evidence can become confusing at times for the lay reader, Cunliffe writes clearly and entertainingly. The Celts is to be recommended to anyone who enjoys a bit of cultural iconoclasm, and it serves as a fascinating introduction to a hotly debated part of history. (Kirkus UK)