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Druids

A Very Short Introduction
Narrated by: Donald Corren
Length: 4 hrs and 30 mins
Categories: History, Ancient
3.5 out of 5 stars (19 ratings)

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Summary

The Druids have been known and discussed for at least 2,400 years, first by Greek writers and later by the Romans, who came in contact with them in Gaul and Britain. According to these sources, they were a learned caste who officiated in religious ceremonies, taught the ancient wisdoms, and were revered as philosophers. But few figures flit so elusively through history, and the Druids remain enigmatic and puzzling to this day.

In this Very Short Introduction, one of the leading authorities on British archaeology, Barry Cunliffe, takes the listener on a fast-paced look at the ever-fascinating story of the Druids, as seen in the context of the times and places in which they practiced. Sifting through the evidence, Cunliffe offers an expert's best guess as to what can be said and what can't be said about the Druids, discussing the origins of the Druids and the evidence for their beliefs and practices, why the nature of the druid caste changed quite dramatically over time, and how successive generations have seen them in very different ways.

In a hurry? Listen to more Very Short Introductions.
©2010 Barry Cunliffe (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jim
  • London
  • 03-09-11

Absolutley fascinating but very strange narration

An wonderfully engaging attempt to survey everything known about the druids including a look at the sources of our knowldge and the origins of a range of modern and recent myths thrown up by neo-pagans. Potentially demoralising if you're a wiccan. Gripping if you just want an insight into the origins of Western European culture. This would have easily been a five star but for the incredibly eccentric narration. Not being a welsh speaker I can't speak with absolute authority but even an Englishman knows that Eisteddfod isn't pronounced istedfart and only the Welsh tourist board would want Glamorgan to be pronounced glamour-gan. Despite all that this is a must for history fans

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Chris
  • Welwyn, United Kingdom
  • 23-08-11

Not recommended

All that becomes apparent from this work is that very little is known about the Druids. The text is padded out extensively with peripheral information not bearing on Druids directly. Having listened to this I am little more informed about Druids than I was before I started.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

as this is an introduction to Druids I was expecting a fairly easy listen explaining the basics of the Druid beliefs and way of life. I actually found it very hard going and wasn't able to finish the book. It is crammed full of dates, geography and detailed information about other religions and civilisations so much so that by chapter 4 I still knew almost nothing about druids. A better scholar than me may enjoy the minutiae of detail but I personally was lost.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Derek
  • NOTHAMPTON, NORTHAMPTONSHIRE, United Kingdom
  • 30-04-11

Barry's Druids

About time too ? The difinative history of the Druids, Barry,s no nonsence account puts to bed the rumers, heresay, and gossip that antiquarians of the past reliably informed us about the ancient Celtic preasthood. Throw away all your Druid fairy tails and keep this excellent history on your bedside / fireside table. You will never need another Druid book - ever !

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Vincent
  • Cumbria, England
  • 31-03-13

Please, Audio, will you give us MORE?

Great little book. I only regret that there are not more of Barry Cunliffe's books on Audio. "The Extraordinary voyage of Pytheas" which, I understand, from ancient sources, tries to reconstruct the voyage, of the 4th century B.C.E. Greek Pytheas, to the British Isles and beyond would make great listening and bring back into public consciousness that long forgotten "Age of Discovery"



Pytheus is mentioned in the present book. In fact the whole thing could be seen as an enticing introduction to topics about pre-history that he deals with in more detail elsewhere.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr
  • 01-02-19

A Missed Opportunity

I read & enjoyed the physical book of Barry Cunliffe's The Celts: A Very Short Introduction and I wanted to learn more about the Druids so I thought this book would also inform and entertain.

Sadly, no.

First the content : this was thin gruel. A good summary of the whole book would be "we don't know very much at all about the Druids". This would have saved me some money and several hours of my life.

Second the narrator: Oh Dear! I'm afraid I couldn't take him seriously after I heard his pronunciation of Pliny the Elder (think Ply-Knee). Then there were all the mangled British place-names and the butchered French and Latin. I could go on but life is too short.

Overall summary - pitiful.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A quick run through Druids.

Information, not to bad. Writing style , fair but very dry at times , lots of American pronounced words ( not necessarily a bad thing but I had to think what or who was meant )
Narration, fair, but has little inflection
Having said this it is a good introduction to the Druids that should set you on the correct path to deeper studies in this area.

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  • Marc
  • 24-07-11

Meets Expectations

I found this to be a very good read/listen. It delivered what it promised: a well written general overview that differentiated between evidence-based information and myth/lore.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • melecona
  • 23-06-11

Very Short Introductions is the best collection!!

Very Short Introductions is the best collection!! Please, we definitely need more from this series!!

Druids have fascinated popular imagination for over two thousand years. In recent years, they have enjoyed revived interest due largely to the emergence of various New Age and earth-based spiritual and religious movements. And yet, despite all the fascination with them, we still don't know much about who they were and what sorts of beliefs and practices they were involved in. This is primarily due to the fact that the pagan societies within which Druids operated did not leave any written records. Hence, all that we know about Druids stems from the physical archeological evidence they left behind, and the writings of outsiders.

This very short introduction tries to shed more light on Druids for the modern reader. It presents a fascinating history of the ancient world within which Druids operated. It shatters a few myths about Druids and reconfirms some other long held beliefs. In particular, even though it is unclear whether Druids themselves conducted human sacrifices, it is fairly well established that those were common in ancient pagan societies and that Druids at the very least condoned them. The book also gives a nice overview of the revival of the interest in Druids that started with the European romanticism roughly in the nineteenth century. Most of our images of Druids can actually be traced to that period, and it is amusing to note that many of the purportedly Druidic practices that some neopagan groups engage in were actually invented in this period.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Becky
  • 10-07-13

Not what I was expecting

What did you like about this audiobook?

I didn't appreciate that it wa titled Druids but only a few paragraphs were spared for the actual class of celtic society it mostly focused on the spred if romanization and history of Gallic celts

How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

Now I have to find more accurate and complete works on Druids very annoyed at the lack of information

Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

Yeah but not about the subject he was supposedly writing about it

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • William
  • 02-03-13

A well thought out and explanatory summery

This is a very well put together book.

Yes, it is short, but the author makes a good job of explaining who the Druids were and what their place is in history was. Be prepared to enlightened, frightened and entertained as this book take you on a journey that is both informative and entertaining.

Well done!

I highly recommend this book as an overview of some of the most mysterious people, in history.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 01-02-13

Good Introduction to Druid History

What did you love best about Druids?

Provided an in-depth review of Druid history

What was one of the most memorable moments of Druids?

The connection to Stone-Henge.

Have you listened to any of Donald Corren’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

N/A.

Any additional comments?

A great introduction to Druid history for a neophyte.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Janelle
  • 01-01-13

Great

I teach art history and just stumbled on this little gem. Well written and interesting

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Eden Dyer
  • 01-05-19

Weirdly passive aggressive and condescending

There is a lot of good information in here, but the author clearly dislikes neo pagans and has some sort of superiority complex going on. It was upsetting because it made it hard to internalize the good information in this book, because it was segmented with painful microagressions against neo pagans and modern druids, all of who I have no personal hatred towards.

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  • Patricia
  • 23-02-15

Too judgmental

What disappointed you about Druids?

The book begins on a note of correction to undue any learning I have done thus far on Druids. The only reason I came to this book was to get a clearer picture of the ideas presented in a book he would dismiss.

What was most disappointing about Barry Cunliffe’s story?

Druid history is wider than we can grasp from the history available but through investigation one can speculate what they may have been. So the stark cold assessment really turned me off.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful