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Norse Warfare: The Unconventional Battle Strategies of the Ancient Vikings [Kindle Edition]

Martina Sprague
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Until the early 1000s, waves of strange and ferocious warriors from the barren northlands swept into Britain and Western Europe. Plundering and pillaging, they left devastation in their wake. Trembling victims never knew when they would strike next. The Vikings fought for personal glory, material wealth and a longing for adventure and freedom. This book tackles the myth of the Vikings, their unconventional methods of warfare, cunning strategies and boldly innovative ship building techniques. The author casts a scholarly eye and a fresh light onto these fiercely independent people.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Martina Sprague was born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden. Interested in military and combat sciences since childhood, she holds a Master of Arts in Military History from Norwich University. She is the author of Sweden: An Illustrated History, also published by Hippocrene Books, and resides in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Product Details

  • File Size: 5508 KB
  • Print Length: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Hippocrene Books (December 3, 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0030DFBW6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #749,613 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 58 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Title DOES NOT match contents! October 3, 2008
I thought I would get a book with a lot more. Instead, I get a book that basically says Vikings used longships and that made them awesome.

I expected military history on the order of Dunnigan or Massie, but instead I got in-depth analysis such as Vikings drank beer before battle to get over their fear.

I only gave it two stars because it has some nice pictures of ships and weapons, although you could easily get the same ones elsewhere.

Stay away from this book. Its lightweight and has nothing new or interesting to say.
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58 of 80 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dissappointing to say the least. December 1, 2008
This book is extremely bad. Not only does the author not mention essential elements of Viking stratgey, such as the Hersyrs, the shield wall or the Swynfilking formation, but she says that the Vikings fought from ships in naval battles, for which there is absolutely no evidence. Worst of all, she assumes that the Jomsvikings existed, when much archaeological evidence, and most Viking historians, agree that they were mythical. Neither does she consider in any detail the Housecarls or the Byzantine Varangian Guard, both of which were important components of the Viking war machine. She also says very little about the circular fortifications of the Vikings discovered in several cities in Scandinavia, or the Vikings mastery of seigecraft. And, although she does quote primary sources, she does so without discussing the implications of them, and her selection of quotable material relates little to her topic. Altogether a purile and amateurish job of research from an author who, because she holds an MA, should know better.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nice title, shame about the book January 21, 2012
By Chris
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book could have been written 50 years ago. It is just paraphrasing of sagas and older history books despite including newer books in a reference list ?!. It includes some howlers for a bit of light relief but in general is a a drag to read. Spellings are wrong and statements such as 'a tall man, well skilled at arms was best suited for triumph in war'.Hmmph.'A mail shirt would take longer than a year to construct..'Hmph again. Whole chapters are given over to discussing mythical characters from medieval sagas, such as Rollo and the Jomsvikings. Nuff said. Better to buy 'Vikinger I krig' by Kim Hjardar and Vegard Vike[...]
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24 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Written from a Tactician's Point of View March 25, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
An excellent survey of Norse tactics, written from the point of view of someone who understands martial tactics. As a historian, special operations tactical analyst, and former Navy SEAL, I found the book to be a useful secondary source in writing a history of pirate hunting. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting History Lesson on the Vikings. April 7, 2011
By Philip
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Who knew that vikings dominated europe between 600 and 1100 AD ?

The Vikings for their brutality had a surprisingly evolved democratic system and women had equality.

The idea of fighting for money, not land made them an ellusive target. No one was interested [from europe] in battling them on their own turf, because there was nothing to gain, whilst the Vikings had everything to gain - riches and land.

Eventually their undoing was when they settled in the lands they conquered. Whilst mobile, they were deadly. When settled they were useless.

It seemed like parts of the book, re-hashed old stories from previous chapters.

I've read the Sun Tzu and he probably would have identified with their tactics.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit superficial, but still a decent read February 9, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
My background is in Medieval History, so the Viking period was just a little 'before my time'. I knew enough about the main points to be comfortable reading this book, and it was still unfamiliar enough for me to learn from it as well. I did feel that this wasn't absolutely top-drawer scholarship, but neither was it poor (or just plain bad) research. I think the best way to describe this is that it's written for the layman rather than for the (serious) student of history. My two main gripes are that the title is somewhat misleading - this is more an overview of Viking culture with an emphasis on the military aspect and the use of the longship; and that the examples/citations given in the descriptions are not given chronologically. Frequently the author will cite numerous examples of a certain type of behavior or action from various times during the Viking age (with dates) but not list them in chronological order. I found that somewhat jarring, though I suppose there's no right or wrong way for this kind of list. Overall, I found the book to be quite interesting, just scholarly enough for me to feel that I was learning some valid data about a time I wasn't really familiar with, and yet the writing was accessible enough to make it an easy and enjoyable read.

Note on Kindle fomatting: Very poor. Not bad enough to make it unreadable, but definitely bad enough to slow you down. The main culprit seems to be a lot of extra spaces in the middle of words. The really bad part is that a lot of the words or phrases where this occurs are in Norse, so you don't know what they SHOULD be. Sometimes there's a space between every letter of a word, other times there's just one space in the middle of a word. Definitely a proofing/editing nightmare.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not great April 2, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Worthwhile compilation in some ways. However, the book could be stated in a short sentence - The Viking ships, single combat style and fearless acceptance of death made them adversaries that were outside the defenses of the existing civilized kingdoms.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars not exactly what I was looking for but a good resource
I was looking for actual tactics used by Vikings and the way there boats were made. Although I didn't get that it was a very informative on who did what and where.
Published 20 months ago by Joel Snyder II
5.0 out of 5 stars good simole to read book
this a great book for easier understanding. it gives a histor of the people the warrior came from as well as a tactical point of view. Read more
Published 21 months ago by psycho headhunter
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Great book, really enjoying it. This book is well written, clear and filled with lots of interesting information about the Norse. Recommended.
Published on August 2, 2012 by mike
3.0 out of 5 stars plenty of quotes
This book quotes a lot of original sources, rune stones, Adam of Bremen, Anglo Saxon Chronicles, sagas, skalds, etc. Read more
Published on March 4, 2012 by Bydand
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good information on Norse history
I was able to download this when it was free.

You get a number of mini-biographies of various Norse leaders.

Information on Viking culture and habits. Read more
Published on May 16, 2011 by Jetpack
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok but misleading title
Note: I am reviewing based on a skim rather then a close read. While that might not seem fair to readers, I think it is acceptable as long as I frankly admit it. Read more
Published on December 2, 2010 by Jason S. Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Swift, prompt service
The prompt service I received from this vendor was remarkable. Within a week of placing my order, it arrived at my house. I'm very impressed.
Published on June 8, 2010 by Brian L. Higbee
2.0 out of 5 stars Useless retread
As one of the other reviewers has said, the title of this book is a misnomer. It is really nothing more than a hodge-podge of Viking era political and cultural history, structured... Read more
Published on July 26, 2009 by Catherine Raymond
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More About the Author

Martina Sprague is a military historian, martial artist, and aviation enthusiast. Her recent book, For God, Gold, and Glory: A History of Military Service and Man's Search for Power, Wealth, and Adventure is of interest to military and social historians, as well as armchair warriors dreaming of the glory that "mischance" prevented them from obtaining. It has been said that wars are fought for God (and country), gold (power and wealth), and glory (honor and heroism). Beneath these identifiers are several subcategories that explain the reasons why governments send troops to war, and why men and increasingly more women voluntarily enlist in the armed forces and fight for their country (or for somebody else's). For God, Gold, and Glory sheds light on those individuals who commit their lives to armed service for reasons related to patriotism, financial gain, adventure, and heroism.

Also of interest might be a new book series titled "A 59-Minute Perspective," each book meant to be read in just under an hour. There are many prisms through which one can view warfare in America and the rest of the world. Rather than examining specific battles or simply giving the reader a rundown of events for memorization, this series of books focuses on the underlying military, social, and political factors that shaped warfare and drove the development of military traditions at home and abroad. The books are suitable for history interested readers looking for thought provoking topics, but not having a lot of time; and for teachers preparing the class for critical thinking about historical events, and how they have come to affect current affairs.

For more information about these exciting new studies, please visit Martina's Web site:

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