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The Celtic World

Written by: The Great Courses
Length: 12 hrs and 52 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (18 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 43.80
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Publisher's Summary

Following the surge of interest and pride in Celtic identity since the 19th century, much of what we thought we knew about the Celts has been radically transformed. From the warriors who nearly defeated Julius Caesar to druids who, contrary to popular opinion, definitely did not worship at Stonehenge, get to know the real Celts.

In The Celtic World, discover the incredible story of the Celtic-speaking peoples, whose art, language, and culture once spread from Ireland to Austria. This series of 24 enlightening lectures explains the traditional historical view of who the Celts were, then contrasts it with brand-new evidence from DNA analysis and archeology that totally changes our perspective on where the Celts came from. European history and culture have been profoundly affected by the Celts, from the myth of King Arthur to the very map of the United Kingdom, where the English confronted the peoples of the "Celtic Fringe."

With a wealth of historical expertise, Professor Jennifer Paxton (PhD Harvard University), Director of the University Honors Program and Clinical Assistant Professor of History at The Catholic University of America, guides you through each topic related to Celtic history with approachability and ease as you unearth what we once thought it meant - and what it may actually mean - to be Celtic. Professor Paxton's engaging, often humorous delivery blends perfectly with the facts about the Celts to uncover surprising historical revelations. The ancient Celts are very much alive in the literary and artistic traditions that their descendants have both preserved and very deliberately revived. All facets of Celtic life, past and present, are addressed by Professor Paxton, who demonstrates a masterful knowledge and carefully separates fact from myth at every turn. Come along for a ride through history to discover your inner Celt.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2018 The Great Courses (P)2018 The Teaching Company, LLC

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I would have liked it to be more in depth.

I hope we will see other lectures covering the countries involved individually in the future.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2018-06-20

I wish this had a different title

I wish this had a different title, maybe "The History of Ireland and Friends". Professor Paxton clearly cares about the subject and reads very clearly, but I had to speed it up a little. The content was good, but not what I was looking for. Based on the title, I was hoping for more immersive daily life as a Celt. I have been to several Celtic historical sites and museums in Austria, but Hallstatt culture is only briefly discussed here. If you want the history of Irish kings and and a comparison of movies with real life, this may be for you. If you want to know more about living in the iron age, skip it. There is little about what regular people ate, wore or did with their typical day. I definitely appreciate the included, illustrated .PDF. Overall, this was okay but I preferred the much more comprehensive book, A Brief History of the Celts, by Peter Berresford Ellis.

75 of 79 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Marc
  • 2018-07-29

Focuses on what the lecturer is interested in

Giving the "story" only 2 stars here feels unfair - yet, I am trying to judge the overall impression I am left with after finishing the course. What the lecturer tells about is interesting and for the major part of it coherent. What irritates me is the VASTNESS of what she leaves out.
The course starts out with a very short hint at "the" Celtic realm not yet being well defined in geography, linguistics, ethnics or time. From almost the Arab "frontiers" over Spain, the (sorry:) English group of islands to France, Northern Germany and parts of Scandinavia "they" roamed, yet the lecturer exclusively focuses on what she is interested in: Everything King Arthur (which, of course, is unfair again - it's just clear that this is the topic she loves, so it takes up quite some space). I find it unfortunate to only hear about Ireland, Scotland, Wales over and over again - those Celtic heritages have been covered so often in such detail that I often thought "yes, heard that before, tell me something NEW".
What I would have LOVED to hear was more about that Spanish enclave. Where the Celtic (speaking) people moved (on the continent) and why. What interaction with (not-British-Island-related) peoples they had. What their mythological, political, sociological history was. In short: DETAILS, not the broad overview you can find everywhere in books, TV documentaries or the interweb.
On another point, I found it irritating that the lecturer kept contradicting herself. There have been quite a lot of - often small - points where I went "huh? Didn't she say something else just the other lecture?" A trivial example might be: She explains that the common belief is OUTDATED that "The Celtic" had been a Central-European "movement" that spread out and could be described as a homogenous area that was well defined and that you could reliably define an "area of origin". In the next lecture(s) she then says "let's now concentrate on the area that the Celtic originated from or that they lived in", basically saying the exact opposite of what she proposed before.
She seems to dislike Archeology - the chapter on "what is usable historical research" seems to dismiss the whole approach of "digging up dirt and basing assumptions on your findings" as nonsense. I am exaggerating here. Yet, over the following lectures, she often uses EXACTLY that "digging up dirt" as a PROOF of her theories ("this has been confirmed by archeological findings"), which sounds strange, after she put Linguistic and text-evidence based research over Archeology.

In short: Content-wise this is mainly, if not almost only, about the Ireland/Scotland/Wales part of Celtic history, a good part of the lectures is spent on English history (independent from its relevance to the topic "Celtic World"). You do NOT get an impression of what the lecturer calls the modern view of where and when the Celtic peoples lived but are limited to somewhat stereotype England-centric History lessons. At this, the course is quite good, well presented and captivating. Just don't expect too much "new".

(Technical note: Again, the audio quality, although mostly good, lacks professional editing. Often the sound "fades" when the lecturer seems to move her head to one side, not talking towards the microphone consistently. A simple pre-fetching EQ pass and moderate compression would have helped. It's OK if you listen through headphones on in quiet surroundings, but less so in distractive environment.)

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • kyle martin
  • 2018-09-11

Holy linguistics, Batman!

This course is much less about the “Celtic World,” than it is about tracing the linguistic history of Celtic-speaking people. I love mythology, history, and archeological studies... but I found this course somewhat lacking. No tails of Cuchulain, the Mabinogion, or many other significant cultural historical references. Must say, disappointed.

21 of 23 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jolene
  • 2018-06-17

It's Celtic

In my most honest assessment, I would have given this course 3 1/2 stars overall if it was possible to do so. Paxton appears to be very knowledgeable on the subject matter, but does meander at times through the material, which can be somewhat distracting for the listener. For those interested in the ancient Celts, particularly those wishing to know more about the regions of Gaul, N. Italy, Switzerland, Germany and even Galatia, this is not the class for you. While it does briefly discuss Caesar's conquest and related topics- these issues remain very underdeveloped. This course focuses on Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Brittany and Cornwall, with a fair amount of discussion about Galicia (Spain), all of which is interesting, but rather focused on those regions.

44 of 51 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ric Peralta
  • Whittier, CA United States
  • 2018-06-09

Incredibly informative and entertaining

I am part Scottish and have long been fascinated by the complexities of the ancient Celtic world, as well as the remnants of this ancient culture in the modern British Isles.

This Great Course Lecture series was incredibly illuminating. Beautifully treated by the professor, I can't recommend this enough if you have even a passing interest in the history of the British Isles and/or Celtic/Gaelic culture.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Rooftop
  • 2018-07-19

Poorly Structured, mediocre performance.

The Subject is of course interesting, but this course cannot decide if it is for neophytes or experts. IT is overly broad in some places, and in other places it spends time refuting obscure scholarly points of view. In the end is wastes a lot of time, and becomes a scant overview. It would do better to decide who this is for, and choose a narrower version of this topic.

Structure is also an issue. Dr Paxton, has a verbal tick, where she points out the overall structure of her lecture, over, and over, and over. I began to twitch every time I heard her refection one subject, and then spend time explaining when she would talk about it. We get its a lecture. If you reference something, we assume you're going to talk about it. You dont need to tell me when.

Anyways, I wouldnt recommend this lecture. Overly long, both too specific and non specific, and wastefully structured.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-08-20

First half is dull and pedantic

Prof made potentially interesting info boring in an attempt to impress us how scholarly and academic she is. The last third was interesting when she dropped the pedantic attitude and had fun with the material. I bought the course because I was interested in the early origins and theories regarding Celts.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mary
  • WESTERLO, NY, United States
  • 2018-04-24

I like the subject, like the Prof! Well don!!!

The music is wonderful, the history is enthralling. Many things from literature were made clear. I learned a lot. Thank you!

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • JACQUE JOHNSON
  • 2018-12-05

Excellent!

This is a book of the in depth knowledge related to the history of the Cetic history. I plan to read it again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Christini Banini
  • Michigan
  • 2018-08-17

Loved it!

There was so much information to take in and I can't wait to listen to it again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful