Prehistoric Times and the Men of the Channel Islands – Joseph Sinel

On a whim I decided that this would be a good book to read, purely for the joys of random knowledge,  and the title told me exactly what I would be learning about.

Just from the cover alone I was already conjuring up vast tracts of time, movements of people and water, as well as all the associated bits of bone, tools and burn marks on rocks.

I wasn’t disappointed.  The reader is treated to a short preface where Sinel   romantises over epochs and the long journey taken by both humans and landscape.  He does this in a pleasingly poetic fashion by tracing the history of a  humble tree.

Being written in the early part of the 20th century a few terms are explained for the lay person, these terms I believe will be generally understood, or at least familiar to the modern reader.  Clarifications are all well and good if the rest of the text is up to it, and Sinel’s writing is clear and always interesting, he is both knowledgeable and enthuisastic about his subjects and it makes the book a joy to read.

Our journey goes all the way back to the land bridge,  the subsequent flooding and retreating of waters, a look at the wildlife and plants over time, a breakdown of classifications of different eras and sub eras of ages, and the occupations of the islands.

The back of the book also contains maps, photos, artwork, and details of excavations to add extra depth for the reading experience.  It may a little thing but it helps forge a connection and a sense of wanderlust in pursuit of the spirit of antiquity these islands possess.

The control over the area of the Channel Islands by both sea and humans becomes mildly hypnotic after a while, which is another plus point for an unexpectedly pleasurable read.  This is history done right and I loved it.

19 Replies to “Prehistoric Times and the Men of the Channel Islands – Joseph Sinel”

    1. And yet I never feel that I read widely enough. It is always great to come across something obscure but with the potential to be a fascinating read, and then it turns out to be just so. I still pine for the copy of Post-War reconstuction of Australia that I never got around to reading.

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        1. Fiction seems to take up too much of my time, I am hoping to do some more non fiction books as well. Science is bloody great, if its not space , it’s Evolution that interests me usually, but am always open to anything else that I can get my hands on.

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          1. That’s what I read. Isaac Asimov books on physics are outdated but just right for us novices. Stephen Jay Gould’s stuff on evolution. Hawking. Many of the greats are good writers too.

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            1. It’s high time that science was something I got back into. I shall try to get into more this year, as well as every other subject I can get my hands on.

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  1. History provides a good breather from fiction, especially when the topic in question is one that is this diverse and extensive. Never read anything on the subject and I feel this could be a good start.

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    1. I didn’t know an awful lot about the Channel Islands, most of the things I know permeated from the news or TV so this really gave me a lot to discover, and of course after reading the prehiostory, there is so much recorded history to enjoy afterwards, as well.

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        1. Well Ishall most likely hunt more books out, I reviewed a book by Henry Wimbush last year which was a series of watercolours of the islands, that is worth a look too.

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    1. One of the selling points of this blog is (I hope) that no one knows what books will be coming up, I like to keep it unpredictable. This book is very readable and short as well, which keeps it ticking along nicely.

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  2. This sounds great, and similar in terms of the land bridge and subsequent drowning to the book I read about the Isles of Scilly a while back.

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    1. Now that sounds like another venture that would be educational and exciting. There is something about island history that is so fascinating.

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    1. Diving into so much random stuff, I don’t expect to find too many gems but its those successful ones that keep me hunting for more. I have a couple of books on the last ice age that are nearing the top of my list, nearing the top this week, at least.

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