An informative and comprehensive overview of the history of Celtic Eurasia. Cunliffe's status as a leading scholar in this field is well deserved. This volume exhibits the result of many years of work. The wealth and breadth, in both time and space, of the material preclude Cunliffe engaging in flowery rhetoric or idle speculations. Using archaeology as the basis for his presentation, he provides both textual and graphic information. The result is a thorough examination of the development and movements of the Celtic peoples. Their impact on the geopolitics of Europe is great, he reminds us. Place names, artistic styles, and numerous practical elements, many of which have been downplayed or ignored during the Christian centuries, remain as a legacy of their presence and influence.
Given the paucity of Celtic written records, Cunliffe begins with a early archaeological efforts and snippets of Greco-Roman observations. What the Celts thought of themselves must remain a mystery. Those observing them found a warrior society, highly sophisticated in that realm from both aggressive and defensive standpoints. Highly mobile, the Celts established societies from Western Asia to the British Isles. In their settlements, which became increasingly organized and administered over the centuries, they laid the foundations of many modern communities. Cunliffe's accounts of these settlements, particularly those in the Iberian peninsula is likely to offer fresh information for many students.
Cunliffe gives us overviews of the "barbarian" migrations and their impact on European society. The most important result of Celtic movements, of course, was the counter expansion of Rome. Celtic domination of the trans-Alpine region drew Rome into Europe proper. Rome's choice of land routes for armies instead of sea routes for trade meant occupation or dominance of Celtic holdings. These counterforces had far-reaching results in all areas of European life. Even religion, which was normally viewed tolerantly by Rome, came under assault when the Celtic Druids became the force organizing resistance to Roman rule. Cunliffe traces these interactions with a scholar's precision, relating it all in a crisp narration.
The author's long career in this field has provided him with a storehouse of resources. Aside from the fine bibliographic essay, he enhances the main text with excellent maps, illustrations and photographs, many in colour. These cultural images impart a graphic sense of how misleading the term "barbarian" is applied to these people. Their rich heritage, eroded by Rome and virtually eliminated by Christianity is revived by Cunliffe's superb recounting of their world. This book is valuable at many levels and well worth the investment. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]