Since their unexplained appearance in Europe over nine centuries ago, the gypsies have refused to fall in with conventional settled life. They remain a people whose culture and customs are beset with misunderstanding, and who cling to their distinct identity in the teeth of persistent rejection and pressure to conform. This book describes their history.
The book opens with an investigation of gypsy origins in India. The author then traces the gypsy migration from the early Middle Ages to the present, through the Middle East, Europe and the world. Throughout their known history they have been renowned for their music, metal working, fortune-telling, healing and horse-dealing; but from the outset they outraged the prejudices of the populations they encountered: they were enslaved, harrassed, outlawed and hunted. Yet against all the odds the gypsies have survived, preserving a distinctive heritage and culture that transcends national boundaries. How they did so is the compelling theme of this book.
This new paperback edition has been revised to take account of recent research and of the political changes in Eastern Europe, which have sadly been followed by a resurgence of Gypsy persecution in a number of countries.