The Druids: A History by Ronald Hutton
Back when this book was being publicized just before it came out I was itching to get it. I even pre-ordered it, because I had read all of Ronald Hutton’s books and I knew the kind of scholarly study that goes into them. I couldn’t wait for the day it arrived and when it did, I dropped all the other books that I was reading and started to read it.
What first struck me was the introduction. It seems that this book was written with people who thought that his other books were “too hard” for them to read. So the book was made “simple”. He also said that another book was forthcoming with academic people in mind and more information then this book. I didn’t like that. I had expected that this book would be like his other books, full of scholarly information and proofs, still it was fun to read at times and had some good information.
Then I was hit by the way he had divided his book. The division was not based on chronological divisions but rather on “types of druids”. As a result you had information that was recycled in every chapter. Not everything was recycled of course and some chapters had new information that the other chapters didn’t, still it got me a little bored.
There was also the fact that he ignored written works by the Celts that came after Christianity, and while I agree that not everything written about the Druids after Christianity came is accurate, it is not a basis to ignore it completely.
Still the book does go into the history of the Druids that came after the 1700s to the present which is ignored by most of the well respected authors in the druid field or if not ignored marginalized. That in my eyes was a redeeming quality.
If you are a beginner in the field of Druidry then please do not read this book until you have read the others by Miranda Green, Peter Ellis, and Barry Cunliffe. If you would rather read a book on Druids which is up to the standards of Hutton’s older books then get his new one (which I will be reviewing as soon as I finish it).