Book Review: Roman Britain: A History from Beginning to End by Henry Freeman (Three Stars)


Book Review: Roman Britain: A History from Beginning to End by Henry Freeman

(Three Stars)

“Create history—History is what we think, say, and write about the evidence for the past.”

Its fifty-two-page length tells readers how much history they’re getting: little. An outline at best.

“The modern Celts are not the present representatives of a people who have existed continually for millennia, but constitute a true case of ‘ethnogenesis’—the birth of an ethnic identity—in early modern Europe.” Like several hyphen-American cultures. “Ethnicity is a cultural construct, and may have little to do with the ‘real’ historical background(s) of the individuals and sub-groups concerned.”

Several bibliographic essays about Roman-ness, Celt-ness, and Britain-ess. Little information is imparted, just lots of opinion about the lack of information and stacks of footnotes.

“This was due to the fact that …”

Needlessly wordy and opaque. With good editing, the story would have been more accessible, but much shorter. What, for example, does the following quote mean? “Creolization [of language], as a way to model these complex processes, allows us to reevaluate these images as the active material culture through which new social identities were forged.”

“Any attempt at an explanation of Celtic religion must at best be extremely speculative—a construction rather than a reconstruction.”

Recommended only for those who know nothing about Roman influence in and on the British Isles, but think they may be.

“It would seem that Rome’s tendrils did put out roots after all.”