The Discovery of Middle Earth: Book summary and reviews of The Discovery of Middle Earth by Graham Robb

The Discovery of Middle Earth

Mapping the Lost World of the Celts

By Graham Robb

The Discovery of Middle Earth
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  • Published in USA  Nov 2013,
    448 pages.

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Book Summary

Fifty generations ago the cultural empire of the Celts stretched from the Black Sea to Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland. In six hundred years, the Celts had produced some of the finest artistic and scientific masterpieces of the ancient world. In 58 BC, Julius Caesar marched over the Alps, bringing slavery and genocide to western Europe. Within eight years the Celts of what is now France were utterly annihilated, and in another hundred years the Romans had overrun Britain. It is astonishing how little remains of this great civilization.

While planning a bicycling trip along the Heraklean Way, the ancient route from Portugal to the Alps, Graham Robb discovered a door to that forgotten world - a beautiful and precise pattern of towns and holy places based on astronomical and geometrical measurements: this was the three-dimensional "Middle Earth" of the Celts. As coordinates and coincidences revealed themselves across the continent, a map of the Celtic world emerged as a miraculously preserved archival document.

Robb - "one of the more unusual and appealing historians currently striding the planet" (New York Times) - here reveals the ancient secrets of the Celts, demonstrates the lasting influence of Druid science, and recharts the exploration of the world and the spread of Christianity. A pioneering history grounded in a real-life historical treasure hunt, The Discovery of Middle Earth offers nothing less than an entirely new understanding of the birth of modern Europe.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

BookBrowse Review
"The Discovery of Middle Earth by Graham Robbit is a very worthy book, and the enthusiasm of a scholar on the scent of an interesting new lead is endearing, but it takes a lot of effort for a lay reader to follow the argument. I think the publisher has been a bit deceiving in the book jacket description, which reads, 'While planning a bicycling trip along the Heraklean Way...Graham Robb made a discovery opening a door to that lost world.' This hints that there will be a narrative frame, like a bicycle trip, surrounding the scholarly discussion. There really isn't. There are a few good yarns sprinkled in but the vast number of ancient names and dates are daunting, as are the very technical maps included. In short, this is a book for serious autodidacts, scholars, and geography hobbyists - not for most general readers (and skimming and skipping don't help due to the high level of detail.) I am interested to read what experts have to say about Robb's findings as they are certainly intriguing but, as a lay-reader, I am unable to comment on their legitimacy."

Other Reviews
"Starred Review. 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 Pick of the Week

"This will appeal to specialists but could be too detailed for the general reader, who may grow frustrated by the somewhat cryptic information regarding solstice lines." - Library Journal

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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.

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