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A Brief History of the Vikings: The Last Pagans or the First Modern Europeans? (Brief History Series) Paperback – October 14, 2005

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About the Author

Jonathan Clements is the author, co-author or translator of over thirty books, including Pirate King, The Moon in the Pines and Confucius. He divides his time between Finland and England.

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Product Details

  • Series: Brief History Series
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Running Press (October 14, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786715995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786715992
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,221,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr Jonathan Clements is the author of many books on East Asian history, including biographies of emperors and empresses, statesmen and warriors, foreign visitors and outcast rebels. His works have been translated into over a dozen languages, including French, Spanish, Korean and Dutch. His biographies of the First Emperor of China and Empress Wu have both been published in Chinese.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Kalle on November 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
Using personal histories and the biographies of leading figures, this book humanises the Viking world. In places, it often reads more like a historical novel, albeit one with scrupulous references to original sagas and archaeology. It is particularly good on the Vikings' encounters outside the usual stories, with interesting notes on their dealings with the Muslim world, particularly the effect of the Zanj Rebellion in what is now Iraq on the white slave trade in Northern Europe, and the influence of the influx of silver from Benjahir in Afghanistan. The narrative also manages a broad historical perspective, beginning with the departure of the Roman legions from Britain, and taking the impact of Scandinavians on North America all the way up to the year 2000. Highly recommended.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By SirMike607 on April 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
I had always been casually interested in Viking history, and while browsing at my local bookstore, this book seemed to provide an easy-to-read introduction to the Vikings. It definitely lived up to its potential. The author conducts a wide survey of the Vikings and their voyages from Greenland and North America all the way to the Middle East and the Black Sea. The text is entertaining and the author writes with a dry sarcasm that I found to be comedic. The only negative was that it was sometimes difficult to keep up with all the different names of various Scandinavian rulers and raiders. Overall, highly recommended for casual Viking enthusiasts.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Ruth Lawler on July 23, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author's conversational style and sense of humor make this book easy and enjoyable to read. Adding recent DNA evidence cements up areas concerning which peoples settled the various parts of Britain and the world. Viking history has been told in many books, yet this one adds new slants to old history. In concluding, the author reminds us that we might respond as lawlessly as the "barbarian" Vikings in similar hardship conditions, their warmer climate, and without our modern supports of government, welfare and insurance. Indeed, he says, other people now exploit the resources of distant lands for us.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Karl B. Fields on November 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
Having visited Viking sites in Norway and read about their trading expeditions into Russia and Turkey, I was curious to learn more about these adventurers of the Middle Ages. I think the author does an excellent job of writing an informative history with some degree of humorous story telling. While it is easy to get lost in the similar names and the violent exploits of different Viking leaders, the reader will be struck by the wide spread influence these raiders had on civilisations in Asia, Europe and the Americas.

Those of us who have European relatives should not be surprised if we find a little Viking DNA in our genome! This is an enjoyable book that provides a great introduction to Scandinavian history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Douglas E. Libert on January 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
The term "viking" age is described in this book as a period of history from about 850AD to 1100AD when Scandanavian countries were able to heavily influence European-Romano type countries.The same Scandanavian territories also extended their influence into Russia and the Black Sea Area.The countries described in the book are kings of Denmark,Finnland,Sweden,Norway.The book primarily deals with folklore,history,and the politics of this time period and it is presented in a hard to put down style.
There aren't long descriptions on how the vikings built their boats or winded details on their jewelery(or whom they may have stolen it from). Some of these fierce characters literally jump out of the pages,swords blazing.The Scandanavians countries did not take a backseat to any other culture in regard to their portion of history. After reading this book maybe the term "viking"needs to be downplayed and "Scandanavians" should be used instead.
The hardcore "vikings" by about 1100AD or so begin to disappear as they adapt to and influence other cultures to form new political blocs in Europe and the east.They blended into the european power bloc well.First however they showed they were an influence to be reckoned with. A share of the world's riches and the status that goes with it make them easy to assimilate. There appears no hardcore fanatacism or ideologies in their beliefs according to the book. Thor rapidly disappears except on the fourth day of the week(Thorsday)and the vikings accept christianity without much fuss.They want to blend in and made gracious subjects and later gracious hosts.
Occasionally during this period, however there were some thrashings handed out by "Vikings" and also handed to them. Some of these episodes are covered in a brief and attention grabbing way.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stella K. Brese on February 9, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are truly interested in Viking Culture this is one of the best books to get you started on for me what has been a lifelong journey.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. K. Overton on December 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The title says it all - an easy read for background of the Viking people/culture and history. I read it, my husband (Irish) read it and I have passed it on to a nephew for a taste of where we come from, what stock makes up a part of our blood. Being Scandinavian doesn't just mean lutefisk and lefse and pickled herring when we're feeling nostalgic and this book opened my eyes to how extensively the Vikings did influence the world. I would highly recommend this volume as a beginner's tool to learn more about the past.
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