The Vikings

Overview

An archaeologist goes beyond the Vikings’ bloody reputation to search for the truth, in a new and groundbreaking historyAn archaeologist goes beyond the Vikings’ bloody reputation to search for the truth, in a new and groundbreaking history.The Vikings famously took no prisoners, relished cruel retribution, and prided themselves on their bloodthirsty skills as warriors. But their prowess in battle is only a small part of their story, which stretches from their Scandinavian origins to America in the West and as ...
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Overview

An archaeologist goes beyond the Vikings’ bloody reputation to search for the truth, in a new and groundbreaking historyAn archaeologist goes beyond the Vikings’ bloody reputation to search for the truth, in a new and groundbreaking history.The Vikings famously took no prisoners, relished cruel retribution, and prided themselves on their bloodthirsty skills as warriors. But their prowess in battle is only a small part of their story, which stretches from their Scandinavian origins to America in the West and as far as Baghdad in the East. As the Vikings did not write their own history, we have to discover it for ourselves; and that discovery, as Neil Oliver reveals, tells an extraordinary story of a people who, from the brink of destruction, reached a quarter of the way around the globe and built an empire that lasted nearly two hundred years.Drawing on the latest discoveries that have only recently come to light, Scottish archaeologist Neil Oliver goes on the trail of the real Vikings. Where did they emerge from? How did they really live? And just what drove them to embark on such extraordinary voyages of discovery over 1,000 years ago? The Vikings: A New History explores many of those questions for the first time in an epic story of one of the world's great empires of conquest.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/12/2013
Inextricably tied up with the history of others—Romans, Britons, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Picts, Gauls, and Gaels—the Vikings have long been portrayed through their contemporaries’ eyes. Not the scholarly type, the Vikings left only scant runes as their written record. Scottish archaeologist and historian Oliver takes clues from their contemporaries, burial remnants, and other cultural activities to tell their story. Instead of assuming the perspectives of the terrified writer of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, or Alcuin, or the Venerable Bede, or Tacitus, he takes the opposite point of view. And though one might question the objectivity of an author so clearly enamored with his subject, the result is a fascinating tale of explorers, chieftains, warlords, and a resourceful, stalwart people of immense seafaring prowess. Beginning before the sacking of Lindisfarne in C.E. 793, Oliver details their exploits from Kiev to Newfoundland, and the startling way they may have affected the Battle of Hastings in 1066—thereby changing the course of history—all of which makes for riveting reading. Though the book’s organization is somewhat choppy, anyone interested in finding out more about these real-life raiders will enjoy everything Oliver reveals. Agents: Eugenie Furness, Furniss-Lawton (UK); Sophie Laurimore, Factual Management (UK). (Oct)
Lonely Planet Traveler
“Looks beyond the clichéd impressions of hairy raiders to exhaustively explore their less well-documented maritime and agricultural innovations.”
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-01
Scottish archaeologist Oliver (A History of Scotland: Look Behind the Mist and Myth of Scottish History, 2009) explores the vast influence of the relatively short Viking Age. The Viking Age began with the raid on Lindisfarne in 793 and lasted until the Norman invasion in 1066. The Vikings invaded, and often stayed, in lands from Turkey, and possibly Persia, all the way to Greenland. The men sought land, escape from harsh rulers, adventure, power and, most importantly, riches. When the Vikings invaded, they demanded and got enormous sums of Danegeld, a tax raised to pay tribute to them. It is reported that Aethelred the Unready (or poorly advised) paid 48,000 pounds (in weight) of silver in what was pure blackmail. The round-bottom, oar-driven boats used by the Swedish Vikings could not survive in the rigors of the North Sea and beyond, but they were excellent for entering rivers that led to the Black Sea. It was the invention of the keel that loosed the Norwegians, along with the Danes, on the West. These larger sailboats allowed them into the North Sea and inexorably onward through Scotland, Ireland, England, France and into the Mediterranean. They affected the destinies of all they met, established the first true democracy in Iceland and, as an unintended result, even spread Christianity. Their conversion was purely pragmatic and political; they understood that Christian barbarism was more acceptable than that of the great heathen hordes. Oliver had few resources for this history: coinage, archaeology and written records. While the Vikings left no written records, their victims did. The author has studied his sources in depth and provides a great chronicle of these nation-shapers who stretched the limits of the known world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605984834
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 10/16/2013
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 290,348
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Neil Oliver is a Scottish archaeologist, historian, broadcaster, and writer. He is perhaps best known as the charismatic presenter of the award-winning documentary series Coast, as well as his two critically acclaimed landmark BBC history series, A History of Scotland and A History of Ancient Britain.He lives in Scotland.
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