The Celts: A Very Short Introduction

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Author: Barry Cunliffe
ISBN: 0192804189

The term ‘Celtic’ is enormously evocative; but the images it evokes are highly diverse and confusing. What exactly do we mean by ‘Celtic’, and who, past and present, can reasonably be called ‘Celts’? Part of the problem is that ‘Celtic’ is a term with many meanings.

In this densely packed little book, Barry Cunliffe explores evidence for the myriad of tribes and cultures that have been associated with term ‘Celt’ from the time the term was applied by the Greeks to their neighbours, through the nationalist movements of the 1700s and ending with the modern day adoption by various groups. Mr Cunliffe sifts through the fields of archaeology, history, literature for the latest research into the cultural identity of the ‘Celts’.

I liked this little book a lot. Packed full of information with helpful maps, though I admit to printing off one or two extra from the net, so that you could see the areas being discussed. The tone of the book was accesssible; a degree in archaeology, literature, anthropology, history or languages was not required in order to make sense of what was being presented. Mr Cunliffe did offer a limited bibliography with the qualification that the bibliographies of the books mentioned will provide more food for thought. All in all, this book provides what it says on the cover. I’m off to read Mr Cunliffe’s more extensive book: “The Ancient Celts”.

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