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Under Another Sky: Journeys in Roman Britain Paperback – March 6, 2014

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Editorial Reviews


"Wonderfully written and full of unexpected facts. Higgins brings Roman Britain into the present." -- Richard Sennett "Beautifully crafted... The beauty of this book is not just in the elegant prose and the precision with which she skewers her myths. It is in the sympathy that she shows for the myth-makers, the men and woman who so very much wanted their very own Roman Britain." -- Peter Stothard The Times "Mesmerising... Sophisticated and passionate. She personalizes the story in a diaristic, almost poetic tone...her prose reminds me at times of W. G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn...similarly haunted by a sense of a past slipping away." -- Tim Whitmarsh Guardian "Smart and up-to-date, sensitive but hard-headed, impeccably researched but gloriously poetic. The layering of themes, moods and topics is staggering. There's nothing like quite it." -- Tom Holland, author of 'Rubicon' and 'Persian Fire' "Under Another Sky should be on every shelf in the UK. Part travelogue, part handbook and part revisionist history, it is a personal and vivid encounter with landscapes, artefacts and people... Beautifully considered and written." -- Ruth Padel New Statesman

About the Author

Charlotte Higgins was born in Stoke-on-Trent and studied Classics at Balliol College, Oxford. She is the Guardian's chief arts writer.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099552094
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099552093
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #397,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Paul Drexler on October 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Superb. Under Another Sky should be read by anyone with an interest in British history. Higgins combines leisurely country walks through Roman ruins with ruminations on the many different ways in which the English have thought about themselves and their own identity. Higgins, a fine classicist as well as a journalist, is well-equipped to lead us through this least-understood period of British history. Higgins writes in an engaging personal style, as she guides us through spectacularly situated ruins, colourful (and erotic) mosaics, Caesar's invasion and Arthurian legend. As Britain tries to redefine its own post-Empire identity, its Roman past begins to take on a deeper meaning. Is Britain to be a pan-European/global nation (as in Roman times, when its cities were more multi-ethnic than today), or an island redoubt, or mere congeries of English, Scots, and Welsh? Higgins guides us through these same issues in Roman times, with a light touch and an open mind. Under Another Sky is not traditional academic history (though Higgins is well-acquainted with all the sources), but for anyone interested in the British past, its countryside, and its culture, reading this book is like coming upon one of the buried treasures which seem to dot the English landscape.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M.A. Brown on October 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved this book. It is a beautifully written combination of history and travel book. Charlotte Higgins travels around Britain visiting Roman sites and telling the reader about their significance. However, she also comments on their condition and on contemporary and past responses to them in ways that raise provocative questions about the way we construct the past. Do not go to this for a conventional history of Roman Britain, but it's a must if you like informed and thought-provoking writing that both manages to impart a good deal of knowledge about Roman Britain and interrogates current attitudes to it..
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sue Kichenside on January 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Charlotte Higgins is a deft and charming guide to Roman Britain. Not only does she recount what these sites - sometimes no more than a few crumbling stones - have meant to people down the ages but she also explores how we in Britain preserve and protect (or not) our ancient heritage in this era of modern tourism. The chapter on Hadrian's Wall is alone worth the price of admission.

All this to say that Ms Higgins makes this fascinating history-cum-travelogue relevant to the reader today and she does so in an unstuffy, anecdotal way that is accessible to all.

Here she is talking about the mythical London Stone: "When I visited it, it was surrounded in its niche by cigarette ends* and discarded train tickets, and what seemed to be grains of wheat and a couple of almonds (as if in obscure offering)."

Here, at an imposing Roman ruin in Norfolk: "A large chunk of wall, in all its massy two-metre width, leaned out at a disconcerting angle from the main run, like a slice of cake ready to be levered on to a plate."

And here, talking of eminent archaeologist R. G. Collingwood who believed: "The past never truly went away; it lay `incapsulated' in the present." Which sums up this lovely book perfectly.

* In the book, the author uses a slang English word for 'cigarette' which exemplifies her informal style but the word evidently breaches Amazon review guidelines and the system won't allow me to use it.
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