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Publisher's Summary

WASPs finally get their due in this stimulating history by one of the world's leading geneticists. Saxons, Vikings, and Celts is the most illuminating book yet to be written about the genetic history of Britain and Ireland.

Through a systematic, 10-year DNA survey of more than 10,000 volunteers, Bryan Sykes has traced the true genetic makeup of British Islanders and their descendants. This historical travelogue and genetic tour of the fabled isles, which includes accounts of the Roman invasions and Norman conquests, takes listeners from the Pontnewydd cave in North Wales, where a 300,000-year-old tooth was discovered, to the resting place of "The Red Lady" of Paviland, whose anatomically modern body was dyed with ochre by her grieving relatives nearly 29,000 years ago.

A perfect work for anyone interested in the genealogy of England, Scotland, or Ireland, Saxons, Vikings, and Celts features a chapter specifically addressing the genetic makeup of those people in the United States who have descended from the British Isles.

©2006 Bryan Sykes (P)2006 Tantor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Makes history and myth come alive

Data is not understood in a vacuum, so the author first enchants the listener with the history and myths of the people of Great Britain and relates that to what his DNA analysis tells him. The story comes alive when he explains the history and myth of the British, and he writes better than almost anyone on those topics.

The author steps you through past attempts at understanding the genetics of the British and how DNA can be used to help deconvolve the problem.

He never lets the science or the data get in the way of telling a good narrative and at times the book was like listening to a beautiful song.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Good Listen

What made the experience of listening to Saxons, Vikings, and Celts the most enjoyable?

The story was easy to follow even if it was some what technical at time but the author made the best of the situation.

What did you like best about this story?

The out come of the story was the best part because it wasn't what I was expecting.

Which scene was your favorite?

My Favorite scene was the part where the author asked a man for a DNA sample and he says , "You don't want me for your study. I'm not form around here". So the author ask him where he was from and the man tells him and the autor has to ask the man where that is and it turns out to be like ten miles down the road.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating Listen

Some technical chapters were a little hard to listen to and would have been better read but overall this was a fascinating book that provided a whole new perspective on ancient British history.
It was well read, however, I would have preferred it to be read by an English narrator as the author's use of language was so obviously English in many instances it sounded odd read in an American accent.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Thesaurus taxing mind numbing travelog

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I'm not a fan of this narratiator to start with but in this particular recording his lilting emphasis on words/phrases becomes so faint at (many) times that words are entirely lost, especially if listening in a car, and this means many 'rewinds' to catch what was said.

What could Bryan Sykes have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

He could have talked about the genetics of Saxons, Vikings and Celts. Or better yet leave book as is and chang the title to something more like: Musings on the mystic beauty of the Isles, possible historic events and some suggestive supportive genetic data.

How could the performance have been better?

Technically the recording was fine - no dropped mics, etc.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Saxons, Vikings, and Celts?

Either most of it - we only get about eight sentences in the whole book that mention genetics specifically by region anyway - or better yet just change the title to reflect the true content of the book.

Any additional comments?

Out of about 300 books I have bought over the years from audible this is only the third that I would like my money back on (Disappearing Spoon & Michael Palins Around the World are the others). 'Spose one out of a hundred isnt so bad though.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Not what I thought

Narrator does a good job with this book. the content its self is not what I expected. For me it is quit boring.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Great content, maddening narration

Interesting content for anyone with ancestry in the Ireland and British isles. Good science paired with a historical perspective. The narrator is American, why? His style is suited more to a children's book with his overly dramatic emphasis, especially at the start- almost makes you want to stop listening. The style does not match the content. If you can bear the narration and the clunky, casual writing style, it's an interesting story of the spread of humans to the isles and beyond to the new world.

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Research methods vs conclusions.

A lot of the research methods were discussed, but I enjoyed the conclusions the most.

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

Please, more science - less academic politics

I really appreciate the science in Bryan Sykes books and admire greatly his work in genetics. The books I've listened to so far are about 1/4 science and 3/4 oneupmanship of Sykes over his fellow geneticists /or/ wanderings far from the topic. There should be more than enough genetic science and migration history to fill a large tome.

Please, create an abridged version that gets to and stays with the topic. Better, a compendium of Sykes' books that are all trimmed of emotional fat.

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

A flawed masterpiece marred by audio production

Any additional comments?

The audio production makes extensive use of some type of gated compression, which frequently renders the beginning words of numerous phrases throughout the recording inaudible. Other than that, this was an absolute joy to listen to!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Narration very difficult to understand.

The narrator clips off the end of words so often and so badly, it is frustrating to listen to.