My Online Prose Portfolio

"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer


The Origins of the English People

By Beram Saklatvala
Barnes & Noble Books, 192 pp, 1969

I came across this little gem while browsing through the non-fiction stacks of the local library. I know, I know, who browses in non-fiction? I do, and usually find something interesting.

Like this book.

If you are of English background, and even if you aren't, you will enjoy this book. The author traces the Angles and Saxons from their origins in continental Europe, how they arrived on the English island and slowly merged to become Anglo-Saxons. 

He also discusses the importance of the Roman occupation. Roman soldiers and settlers came to England, and many stayed. These Romans came from all over the known world, including Syria and Egypt. So, even if you have a pure English background, you may still have a distant Egyptian or Syrian ancestor. I think that's cool.

He discusses the impact of the Viking invasions, how Wessex and her kings, including my hero Alfred the Great, held off the Norse armies, and finally the arrival of the Normans. During this time of invasion and occupation by foreign-speaking people, the Anglo-Saxons endured, absorbing traits, customs, words, and traditions of the foreign people, giving these hardy people the strength and flexibility to continue as a distinct culture, with a language that eventually spread all across the world.

The author traces the ancient roots of our own form of government, such as the rule of law, government by consent, and the growth of a body of advisers to the king, what we would now call a Cabinet. 

If you want to understand your own background, or why the British and to a lesser extent American governments do what they do, read this book.

Back to Book Reviews