Books

Books : reviews

Jean Manco.
Ancestral Journeys: the peopling of Europe from the frst venturers to the Vikings: revised edn.
Thames & Hudson. 2015

Who are the Europeans? Where did they come from? Ideas about our European ancestors are being transformed through archaeology, linguistics and the new genetic revolution, and the discovery of ancient DNA is dramatically changing our picture of prehistory.

This paradigm-shifting book paints a spirited portrait of a restless people that challenges our established ways of looking at Europe’s past. Now brought completely up to date with all the latest findings from the fast-moving fields of genetics, DNA and dating, Jean Manco’s highly readable account skilfully weaves multiple strands of evidence to produce a startling new history of Europe.

Jean Manco.
Blood of the Celts: the new ancestral story.
Thames & Hudson. 2015

New discoveries in genetics have overturned the dogma of decades about the Celts. Today Celtic languages cling to precarious life on the northwestern fringes of Europe. Delve into the pre-Roman past and we find Celtic spoken across the continent. The heritage of the Celts turns up from Portugal to Romania, from Scotland to Spain. Yet debate continues about who exactly were the Celts, where ultimately they came from, and whether the modern Celtic-speakers of the British Isles and Brittany are related to the Continental Celts we know from ancient history. So a fresh approach is needed. Blood of the Celts meets this challenge, pulling together evidence from genetics, archaeology, history and linguistics in an accessible ahd illuminating way.

Jean Manco, author of the pioneering and acclaimed genetic history of Europe, Ancestral Journeys, has here written a vivid and compelling account that takes the reader on a voyage of discovery from the origins of the ancient Celts to the modern CeltIc Revival. What emerges may seem startling. Earlier attempts to trace historical and prehistoric movements using only modern DNA from living people have been proved dramatically wrong by findings from ancient DNA.

Lovers of war, wine and song, the historical Celts strike us as a people with a great gusto for life. Yet they did not fear death, for they believed in an afterlife. Fate has granted them more kinds of immortality than they had in mind. As long as any Celtic language is still spoken, the linguistic chain from the ancient Celts remains unbroken. As long as the earliest Celts have living heirs, there is also an unbroken chain of DNA. Blood of the Celts will be essential reading for anyone interested in their Celtic ancestry and also for everyone fascinated by the Celts and their world.