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The Ancient Paths: Discovering the Lost Map of Celtic Europe Paperback – 3 July 2014

4.2 out of 5 stars 172 ratings

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Product description

Review

'remarkable . . . an overarching, wondrous reworking of history rooted in painstaking, if not obsessive, research. And if its fantastical connections and arcane details leave the reader reeling, perhaps that is merely a reflection of the astounding complexity and continuing mystery of a lost civilisation that Graham Robb has restored to its rightful place.' Philip Hoare, Literary Review

'a wonderful writer . . . No one else can make a bike ride through the French countryside so enthralling. No one else so relishes the odd corners of history.' Sunday Times

'Robb produces an elaborately detailed account of [Celtic] society and ideas . . . Those who enjoy a mixture of myth and archaeology, who admire a vivid metaphor and a fine turn of phrase, will find much in this book to enjoy.' New Statesman

'He is such a warm, gentle and generous writer, with no faux scholarly tosh or solitary ecstasy riffs [and] Robb's own calm eloquence is deeply persuasive . . . If Graham Robb has discovered that Ancient Gaul was arranged as a reflection of the universe, then that amazing discovery, and this heroically courageous publication of it, is a wonder and a marvel.' Adam Nicolson, Evening Standard

'The findings of Graham Robb, a biographer and historian, bring into question two millennia of thinking about Iron Age Britain and Europe and the stereotyped image of Celts as barbarous, superstitious tribes.' Daily Telegraph

‘Presenting one of the most astonishing, significant discoveries in recent memory, Robb, winner of the Duff Cooper Prize and Ondaatje Award for The Discovery of France, upends nearly everything we believe about the history―or, as he calls it, protohistory―of early Europe and its barbarous Celtic tribes and semimythical Druids. Popularly dismissed as superstitious, wizarding hermits, Robb demonstrates how the Druids were perhaps the most intellectually advanced thinkers of their age: scientists and mathematicians who, through an intimate knowledge of solstice lines, organized their towns and cities to mirror the paths of their Sun god, in turn creating the earliest accurate map of the world. In his characteristically approachable yet erudite manner, Robb examines how this network came to be and also how it vanished, trampled over by a belligerent Rome, which has previously received credit for civilizing Europe―though in Robb’s account, Caesar, at the helm, appears dim, unwitting, and frankly lucky, and the (often literally) deeply buried Celtic beliefs and innovations seem more relevant in modern Europe than previously assumed. Like the vast and intricate geographical latticework that Robb has uncovered, the book unfurls its secrets in an eerie, magnificent way―a remarkable, mesmerizing, and bottomless work.' Publishers Weekly, Starred Review and Pick of the Week

'One certainly has to admire the perseverance Robb has shown, not just researching in libraries and map rooms, but also following trails on the ground. Fifteen thousand miles on a bike, very often to places that no tourist or researcher has ever visited or even inquired about before . . . If you accept Robb's complex arguments, drawn from astronomy, philology, archaeology and history, you do indeed get a new view of an ancient civilisation . . . all those miles on the bike. All those archaeological discoveries pointed out. If nothing else, The Ancient Paths creates a new respect for the ancient Gauls, and the ancient Britons. Whatever Caesar may have said, they weren't all woad and moustaches.' Tom Shippey, Guardian

'an enthralling new history . . . 'Important if true' . . . rings loud in the ears as one reads the latest book by Graham Rob, a biographer and historian of distinction whose new work, if everything in it proves to be correct, will blow apart two millennia of thinking about Iron Age Britain and Europe and put several scientific discoveries back by centuries . . . it presents extraordinary conclusions in a deeply persuasive and uncompromising manner. What surfaces from these elegant pages - if true - is nothing less than a wonder of the ancient world: the first solid evidence of Druidic science and its accomplishments and the earliest accurate map of a continent . . . a book almost indecently stuffed with discoveries . . . suggestions follow thick and fast, backed by a mixture of close reading, mathematical construction and scholarly detective work . . . Robb manages his revelations with a showman's skill, modestly conscious that his book is unfurling a map of Iron Age Europe and Britain that has been inaccessible for millennia. Every page produces new solutions to old mysteries, some of them so audacious that the reader may laugh aloud . . . Beautifully written . . . It's a magnificent piece of historical conjecture, backed by a quizzical scholarly intellect and given a personal twist by experiment . . . watching its conclusions percolate through popular and academic history promises to be thrilling. Reading it is already an electrifying and uncanny experience: there is something gloriously unmodern about seeing a whole new perspective on history so comprehensively birthed in a single book. If true, very important indeed.' ― Daily Telegraph

'The Romans did a good job of writing their predecessors out of history . . . As the conquerors got to write the history, we have to rely on their account of what they found. But as Robb makes clear, they told only part of the story.' Observer

An ingenious and thoroughly gripping historical and archaeological bolt from the blue -- Books of the Year ― New Statesman

From the Back Cover

'An ingenious and thoroughly gripping historical and archaeological bolt from the blue.'
New Statesman, Books of the Year 2013

When Graham Robb made plans to cycle the route of the legendary Via Heraklea, he had no idea that his journey would change his understanding of pre-Roman Europe. The ancient path he followed took him deep into the civilization of the Celts, where his discoveries were so extraordinary that he spent years trying to disprove them.

Grounded in astronomy, philology, archaeology and history - not to mention 15,000 miles on a bicycle - this book presents nothing less than a new wonder of the ancient world.

'The Romans did a good job of writing their predecessors out of history . . . As Robb makes clear, they told only part of the story.'
Observer

'The findings of Graham Robb, a biographer and historian, bring into question two millennia of thinking about Iron Age Britain and Europe.'
Daily Telegraph

'Remarkable . . . an overarching, wondrous reworking of history.'
Philip Hoare, Literary Review

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Picador; First edition (3 July 2014)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 400 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0330531514
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0330531511
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 18 years and up
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 291 g
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 13 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.2 out of 5 stars 172 ratings

About the author

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Graham Robb, whose recent books include "The Discovery of France" and "Parisians," has published widely in French literature and history. His biographies of Balzac, Victor Hugo, and Rimbaud have won critical acclaim and were selected as New York Times Editor’s Choices for best books of the year. Robb lives in Oxford, England.

Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5
172 global ratings
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Top review from India

Reviewed in India on 22 July 2016

Top reviews from other countries

Ronnie
2.0 out of 5 stars Just about ok
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 October 2019
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9 people found this helpful
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The Angry Druid
5.0 out of 5 stars Putting the Gaulish Celtic civilisation back into history
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 29 April 2020
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6 people found this helpful
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GM8OTI
2.0 out of 5 stars Ley Lines revisited
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 March 2021
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3 people found this helpful
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Annie Dieu-Le-Veut
5.0 out of 5 stars A game-changer!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 9 October 2018
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7 people found this helpful
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The Chronicler
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent work, in research
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 February 2018
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5 people found this helpful
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