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The Celts: A History (Brief History)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  373 ratings  ·  27 reviews

Uncovering one of Europe's greatest civilizations

For centuries the Celts held sway in Europe. Even after their conquest by the Romans, their culture remained vigorous, ensuring that much of it endured to feed an endless fascination with Celtic history and myths, artwork and treasures.

Peter Berresford Ellis, a foremost authority on the Celtic peoples and their culture, pr

Paperback, Revised paperback edition, 235 pages
Published 2004 by Carroll & Graf (first published 1994)
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Books Set in Scotland
87th out of 522 books — 383 voters
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Scottish History
3rd out of 138 books — 33 voters

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CJ - So, you wanna play with magic?
Nov 13, 2008 CJ - So, you wanna play with magic? rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Ancient Celtic History
Informative as always. Especially loved the chapters on women, religion and ancient history. Good book to pick up if you are interested in Celtic History. Ellis' voice is informative and interesting and knowledgeable. Please note that is a Cultural Anthropological book and even to pare it down further, a Socially Cultural book. If you want something dry, based purely on fact and numbers then this book is not one you want to pick up. Also not recommended for those interested in only Insular Celti ...more
Sort of dry. I learned a lot, but it's like digesting pig iron. The author crams a lot of information into a short book (just over 200 pages). I often found my eyes glazing over as I re-read paragraphs filled with names I have no idea how to pronounce. Each chapter focuses on some aspect of Celtic civilization, so that makes things easier. And the chapters are short. But it's probably a story that needs to be told in a much longer book, and written with greater style.
A fascinating look at an ancient, influential, but overlooked European group that is ancestral to most Americans. Ellis is obviously a celtophile, attributing so much of what are considered Roman advances to ideas lifted from the long-fought and eventually conquered Celts. I gave this book to my son, who's in love with the Romans, knowing that it would add to his understanding of them.
Historians who talked about the Celts can be fit into three categories. The first category includes the Classical writers who wrote to demonize them, and the writers who wrote to show
how unsophisticated they are. The second category includes the people who wrote to show what a great society they were and how misunderstood they were and those include both modern and
classical writers. And the third and final category is the writers who were somewhat unbiased and these are very few. The author of
For such a small book (221 pages), and considering it had to skim through so much, it was chock-full of information. The author did a really good job of giving information about assorted Celtic tribes from all over Europe, rather then focusing on a specific area, such as Ireland. He compared and contrasted some of the major tribes, and then went in to some very interesting descriptions on what the Celts did, that the Romans end up being known for. Not a difficult or tedious read, rather enjoyabl ...more
A while ago I visited an excellent exhibition of 'Vikings' in Tongeren in Belgium. While checking out the museum shop I found this interesting book about the Celts. We are full of admiration for the Romans who were so ahead of things in a lot of areas. Well, to my surprise a lot of things the Romans did, came from the Celts and was adapted by the Romans. Now we know!

At the start of the first millennium BC, a civilisation which had developed from its Indo-European roots around the headwaters of t
Kate Robinson
I found myself surprisingly enthralled with this book. Despite the fact that it is littered with impossible to pronounce names, it is an entertaining portrait of a tribe of people that it turns out I knew nothing about. Certain chapters were more interesting than others, but on the whole well worth the read.
Abi Cadell
I found this book very interesting and enjoyable, though it's obvious that Peter Berresford Ellis is a great partisan of the Celts and rather biased. Having said that, it's a very easy to read book and an excellent introduction to the Celts.
A very good introduction to the Celts, easy to read and gives you a taste of the different members of society. Not really about the movement of the Celts across Europe or the time-line.
I loved this book! Lots of insights on the impact of the Celts on the early Christians, and the religious beliefs that were evident of the Celts.
Regina Hunter
One of the best ive read this year.
So Hakim
A quick survey of Celtic anthropology and history. Anybody interested about the Celts can do worse than starting with this book. There is simply a little bit of everything.

From written history to archaeology, to language and laws, even their religion and beliefs are thoroughly introduced. There is also discussion about the Celts' Proto-Indo-European root (which I found quite edifying).

The author took pains explaining academic consensus on each topic. For a book geared toward popular audience, t
The Celtic people are one of the oldest breeds in history, so their story is a lengthy one. Thankfully, Ellis' Brief History sums it up neatly without going into an overwhelming amount of detail. He summarizes pretty much every topic needed for a complete introduction - ranging from the role of women to war practices - as well as discussing the historiography involved in his information sources (which is essential considering that the Celts were a largely oral culure during the pre-Christian era ...more
A very enjoyable read.
Ellis presents a great deal of information in a short book without being overwhelming. Pleasantly packaged in a manner that is neither too dry or lacking in dignity.
There is a lot to chew on that I had not considered. The sheer scope of the celtic world is simply amazing (while most of us only think in terms of insular celts and Asterix).

My only misgivings about the information in the book is that the author gives SO much credit, and SO much defense to the celtic side of is
Lauren Albert

Concise and informative look at the early Celts. It is fact- rather than narrative-based history but the facts are often fascinating and (for me) surprising. Especially surprising to me were the links he showed between the Celts and South Asian cultures—both Indo-European, of course. Some other interesting facts that I learned—Roman roads were usually built on earlier Celtic roads which because they were constructed using wood, did not last the test of archaeological time. The Celts also began m
Aurah Sage
It is certainly a brief history. I don't know how accurate it is, though what I remember from it I've seen backed up by other sources. And it was interesting enough.
It was a good jumping-off point. Thanks to this book I've been reading more in depth about the history of the Celts.
interesting but slow reading with too many facts dates names and places crammed in. i have read previously on the celts and irish mythology so for someone who hasn't so much backround then this book would probably even be a harder read and one I would not recommend as a starter book on this subject. The book however is not so long and does cover some interesting subjects and topics. The authors evident interest in his work also comes across well.
This book does what it promises: gives a brief overview of all aspects of Celtic life. It combines information from multiple discliplines: archeology, history, linguistics, to give you as broad a view as possible. Sometimes it's a bit too detailed for the casual reader, but a good and complete overview from someone who obviously knows what he's talking about. The only thing that baffles me is the last chapter, entitled 'Early Celtic History'. In part it's a rehash of earlier chapters, in part it ...more
James Welfare
Enjoyable introductory history. Gives enough detail and mentions enough sites, dates and classical sources to feel complete but doesn't go into excessive detail. Easily read with an intelligent style, sometimes changes subject rather suddenly but I suppose that is part and parcel of being a "brief" history. Plenty of information buy also whetted my appetite for more Celtic history
I listened to this book. It was very interesting. I always thought of the Celts as a subset of Irish culture but a lot of the Celt history included Galatia (current Belgium, Netherlands, Germany) and their great defeat of the Romans. It was a detailed look at the history, culture, wars, and lives of the Celts. Very good read and enlightening.
I am only giving this 2 stars because it did have very interesting facts and info in it, but that's it. This book was so hard for me to get through and as a history lover I am a little frustrated with that. This book might have been better if the author didn't try to shove so much information at you in only 200 pages. It just doesn't work.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Interesting but too dry. Good starter point on what to google next though.
This might make your eyes dry up and bleed out of boredom if you're not a historian. If you are interested in history and want a nice introduction to the Celts, this would be it.
وسام الدين محمد
I am never red an interesting historical book like that before. The Celts are the most mysterious people in history and this book try to make an interpretation for their history.
James Edgar
Good read, and the writer clarifies that the Celts have been misunderstood for ages -- all because of the Roman writers making deliberate errors.
Caron Bright
one of the better celtic books if you are just curious.
Vicki added it
May 02, 2015
Ann Caitilin McCarthy
Ann Caitilin McCarthy marked it as to-read
Apr 23, 2015
Kathleen Burnette
Kathleen Burnette marked it as to-read
Apr 22, 2015
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Peter Berresford Ellis (born 10 March 1943) is a historian, literary biographer, and novelist who has published over 90 books to date either under his own name or his pseudonyms Peter Tremayne and Peter MacAlan. He has also published 95 short stories. His non-fiction books, articles and academic papers have made him acknowledged as an authority on Celtic history and culture. Under Peter Tremayne, ...more
More about Peter Berresford Ellis...

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